After celebrating their fifth anniversary earlier this year, and taking a brief hiatus from hosting and curating events, Noctilux Collective is primed to explore new territory with their releases, collaborations and shows. Founder Michael Benz took some time to tell Freq. about where Noctilux collective has been and where its label of the same name is headed.

“Right now we’re in a bit of a limbo with shows,” says Benz, “that’s why we’re putting a lot more emphasis on the label, just because we have to figure out what we’re going to do now and how we’re going to approach it.”

After a departure from their usual home at Habitat Living Sound and a bit of a sabbatical from shows following the hectic summer season, Benz has taken time to put his focus on a new direction.

“We’re basically reformatting the label, to be a little more inclusive of a lot more demographics than just our own.” Benz explains Noctilux is eager to expand beyond the borders of Calgary to collaborate with “people that he’s met along the way,” from places like the West Coast, both stateside and on Canadian soil. They’re also looking at exploring new musical ground beyond the type of bass music the label has become known for, referencing the post-dubstep akin to Swamp 81 or Madam X, or as he puts it, “stuff that kind of bridges the gap between house and techno and bass music but it’s tried and true.”

“It’s very challenging take on [bass music] and it fits within our scope of what we’d like to do.” In previous interviews, Benz uses “challenging” as a blanket term to describe the sounds enveloped by Noctilux, and the same holds true with what he currently has on his radar. The collective’s most recent releases certainly showcase both the forward-thinking, bass-music-centric ethos of the label as well as its openmindedness in incorporating the musical satellites that orbit bass music in general.

For example, Ting’s “Jelly Doughnuts” is a hybrid banger well suited to Ivy Lab or Shades fans, while Weston (previously featured on Noctilux) with his proper dub savviness put forth a jazzy, horn-laden beauty titled “Worlds.” Both tunes are from a new project for Noctilux entitled Diamonds in the Rough—essentially a steadily released stream of singles.

“So basically, we can put those out a lot faster,” says Benz, “like we can put them out once a week. They’ve had a lot of really good traction right off the get go and I’m really happy with them so far.”

Noctilux operates as a free-sharing or complimentary business, and Benz says that it’s an endeavor that more often than not actually costs money to operate, but that they do it as a way to give back to hardworking producers in the scene and out of pure personal enjoyment.

“Noctilux is an entry point and a point to grow within Calgary,” explains Benz. “It’s an important piece of the underground music scene. It allows for the challenging, creative and ambitious artists in bass music to express themselves how they see fit.

“And if we can package together a really sick release for these guys and get this onto 200, 300 people’s computers—that’s great, that’s exactly what we want to do.”

Furthermore, Benz also says that while they are very much a digital label, a physical format release, particularly vinyl, could be something that happens within the next year. One idea he’s had, similar to the punk and hardcore he grew up on, is a 10-inch split album, with different artists on each side.

“I loved all that culture of punk music and hardcore from way back in the day and that seems to be a very interesting avenue that we’d probably like to explore. And kind of what I have in the back of my head right now is that kind of scenario.”

True to form for this true Calgarian underground entrepreneur, Benz has a lot on his plate and a lot cooking up in the back of his mind for the near future. Recent shows during Alberta Electronic Music Conference included Nomine and Spectrasoul. Benz says they are working on new releases from Calgary producers and are looking forward to future releases from artists who have been quietly working hard under the radar.

Calgary remains a hub for creative expression and Benz is passionately committed to providing an outlet with which to showcase the label’s unique vision. Noctilux shall forge on into their next five years and continually be a vessel for underground sonic exploration.

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By: Paul Rodgers

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