Efficient Space’s Michael Kucyk on the Independent Music Exchange – “We’re Doing Things for the Sake of Music”

Independent Music Exchange
Michael Kucyk, Corey Kikos & Maryos Syawish | Credit: Chip Mooney

This month’s Independent Music Exchange (IME) was conceived by Efficient Space label head Michael Kucyk and Sleep D’s Maryos Syawish and Corey Kikos. When they’re not making scene-defining techno and deep house, Syawish and Kikos run the Butter Sessions label, and Syawish works with Alessandra Peach on the equally excellent Research Records.

IME is a two-day indie record label market happening in conjunction with the inaugural The Eighty-Six festival in Melbourne’s inner north. IME will set up at Masaya Reception on Stott St, Thornbury, for two days, bringing together nearly 60 independent and predominantly local labels in a free, all-ages environment.

Independent Music Exchange: Saturday, 28th & Sunday, 29th October

Small, grassroots labels such as Music In Exile, Dinosaur City, Altered States Tapes, Cool Death and Spoilsport will be represented alongside more established indies like Domino, Remote Control and Cooking Vinyl Australia.

Efficient Space, whose catalogue includes reissues of Karen Marks and Waak Waak Djungi and contemporary releases by YL Hooi and Wilson Tanner, will be there too, and so will Butter Sessions and Research Records.

Ahead of the inuagural event – which gives local music fans the chance to pick up a wide variety of vinyl, cassettes, zines, test pressings, posters, warehouse finds, signed items and exclusive merch – Music Feeds spoke to Michael Kucyk about what distinguishes an indie label from a major, and how the IME is bringing together a community of music enthusiasts and indie diehards.

Credit: Chip Mooney

Music Feeds: When did you figure out independent labels were something you could trust?

Michael Kucyk: I think since discovering Triple R in high school, which is some twenty-plus years ago. That connected me with a whole constellation of independent music that I was just never aware of.

Then I actually worked for Mushroom Music [Publishing] for eight years, straight out of university – or halfway through uni. So I had a pretty fortunate insight into a company that was independent from all perspectives. Merchandise, publishing, multiple record labels, booking agencies, all done with a pretty independent spirit.

Then I did A&R for Modular, which was quasi-independent. Like, I worked for the owner [of Modular], but it had major label ownership. I think through that experience – no shade on Modular – but by the time I got spat out of that, it was just like, “I don’t really want to be part of anything that has a foot in the major world.”

I was like, this is my lane, and I’ve learned all these things – this is what I want to do now and these are the people I want to be around.

MF: What was the big turnoff about working for a major?

Michael: Being made coldly redundant. And feeling like you were a pawn in a large legal battle. Basically, feeling totally dispensable and of no value whatsoever by people who might as well be bankers.

MF: Efficient Space is a relatively new label – is it ten years?

Michael: Eight years old this year. We work from this 11-bedroom house in Carlton. So, Butter Sessions are downstairs. I share my office with the couple who do Research Records. They did the first records for Mildlife, they do Big Yawn, they do Glass Beams. So, I guess we kind of have this unstructured co-op. I distribute both of those labels and we trade a lot of experiences, manufacturing details, dos and don’ts.

We also do a seasonal garage sale pop-up shop. IME is basically trying to magnify that on a scale that we haven’t seen before, band together a whole bunch of labels that probably don’t get industry support.

There’s the SXSWs and Indie-Cons and BIGSOUNDs, but I still feel like there’s a whole microcosm of labels that never get the call-up for those things. So we’re trying to facilitate an event that’s by us, for us, because god knows we’ve all got a lot of crossover fanbases.

I’m excited. A lot of these labels are one-, two-bit operations, really taking a lot of risk, don’t have a lot of financial backing. So it’s nice to get everyone under one roof and just start talking.

MF: So, in contrast to working at a major label where the focus is on nothing but commerce, is running an indie label – for you – about working with artists you love, releasing good music and building a community?

Michael: Yeah – I did a document where I was just writing all the key artists on each label and it was actually amazing to see how many artists had simultaneous-released on multiple labels. I feel like there’s a certain comradery, there’s a certain level of non-competition that doesn’t exist in the other end of the spectrum.

Major labels will sign an artist for a multiple album deal for an unknown term and they’re solely at the mercy of that label. We’re doing things for the sake of art, for the sake of music. It’s not that restrictive.

Independent Music Exchange 2023

Saturday, 28th & Sunday, 29th October – Masaya Reception, Thornbury VIC

  • Albert’s Basement
  • Altered States Tapes
  • Animals Dancing
  • Anti Fade
  • Bedroom Suck
  • Blossom Rot
  • Butter Sessions
  • Chapter Music
  • Cheersquad
  • College Of Knowledge
  • Companion
  • Cooking Vinyl Australia
  • Cool Death
  • Dinosaur City
  • Domestic La La
  • Domino
  • Dot Dash
  • Efficient Space
  • Elations
  • Equinox
  • Feral Media
  • Finders Keepers
  • Fresh Hold
  • Good Company
  • Good Morning Tapes
  • Holiday Maker
  • Hopestreet
  • Hospital Hill
  • It
  • KGLW [King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard]
  • La Sape
  • Left Ear
  • Lost and Lonesome
  • Love Above
  • Love Police
  • Lulus Sonic Disc Club
  • Music In Exile
  • N&J Blueberries [HTRK]
  • Northside
  • ONO
  • Our Golden Friend
  • Pointer
  • Poison City
  • Ramble
  • Remote Control
  • Research
  • Rice Is Nice
  • Sorcerer
  • Southern Exposure
  • Spoilsport
  • The Roundtable
  • Tiny Town
  • UNFD
  • Vessel
  • Wax’o Paradiso
  • Wax Museum

The Independent Music Exchange runs from 10am-5pm on Saturday, 28th October as part of The Eighty-Six’s Saturday Saturday program (ticket allocation exhausted) and Sunday, 29th October (no ticket required).

Further Reading

All of the Events Happening as Part of The Eighty-Six’s Super Saturday

Theo Parrish, Unknown T & More Added To Melbourne Fest The Eighty-Six

King Stingray and Genesis Owusu Win Big at 2023 AIR Awards

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