Soundbites: No Fun Intended Launches; the Takács Quartet Bring Ravel to Middlebury | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Soundbites: No Fun Intended Launches; the Takács Quartet Bring Ravel to Middlebury

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Published April 13, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated April 15, 2022 at 3:06 p.m.


Andy Kershaw - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Andy Kershaw

There was a time when signing to a record label was the be-all and end-all for musicians. Those monolithic corporations were a white whale for struggling artists: both the object of obsession and, simultaneously, revulsion. Everyone knew stories of record labels screwing over artists but also understood that there was no "making it" without those entities.

Those days are long gone. Streaming broke apart the old world as musicians began self-publishing, and once-storied labels either folded or were swallowed up by bigger conglomerates.

I don't know many musicians who wept for the death of the big-label system, to be honest. Still, self-publishing music to streaming sites such as Spotify or Apple Music has plenty of limitations, particularly if you're trying to reach a bigger audience.

Andy Kershaw just might have the answer to this conundrum. Kershaw moved to Burlington from California's Bay Area three years ago with a background in promoting dance music and working with indie labels. He cofounded West Coast labels 3AM Devices and As You Like It recordings, the latter of which focused on San Francisco and Oakland artists. As Kershaw got acclimatized to his new home, he saw the need for something similar in the Queen City.

"I was trying to figure out where my place might be in the music scene here," Kershaw told me by phone. "There's this great base for dance music in Burlington, with DJ Taka spinning weekly at Radio Bean and Justin Remillard doing Sunday Night Mass shows. But I didn't see that unifying thing yet, that structure to bring it all together."

With that in mind, Kershaw founded No Fun Intended, a record label with a mission to promote local dance music.

"Our primary goal is to shine a light on Burlington artists and get our dance music heard on a global scale," said Kershaw.

By signing with No Fun Intended, local musicians and producers are promoted in what Kershaw calls "traditional label fashion." The label distributes through Paradise Worldwide, a global network that publishes tracks to dance-specific stores such as Beatport, Juno Download and Traxsource, as well as mainstream sites such as Spotify. No Fun Intended only signs artists for individual tracks, not albums.

"There's a lot of focus on self-releasing these days, which I absolutely get," Kershaw explained. "But I honestly think a collective approach can elevate Burlington dance music in a different, better way now. We have an opportunity to really coalesce our scene into something stronger."

The label will release music every month, starting this Friday, April 15, when No Fun Intended officially launches. The first track features Kershaw himself, as NDK, collaborating with producer Nordheiim. The song, called "ANAL.OG," is for analog lovers, and it's "a statement on ... artistry being used as content for social media feeds," Kershaw said.

To celebrate the track's release and the label launch, Kershaw kicks off a new monthly series this Friday at Burlington's Radio Bean called No Fun Fridays. He'll showcase a different No Fun Intended release each month, starting with "ANAL.OG." The shows start at 9 p.m. with opening sets from DJ Scott Carlson and continues with cuts by the month's featured artists. Future installments of the series will include tracks and performances by local producers, such as Vetica, Genderdeath and Montréal's Toltech.

"I just felt that Burlington really needed a dedicated, monthly dance party," Kershaw asserted. "When I made my pitch to [Radio Bean owner] Lee Anderson, he immediately went for it."

Vetica - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Vetica

Kershaw also hopes to strengthen the bond between Burlington and Montréal's EDM scenes.

"I was honestly shocked to see how little artistic back-and-forth exists between the cities," Kershaw said. "When I lived in the Bay Area, there was so much musical connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles, or Portland and Seattle — and those cities are a lot further away than Burlington is from Montréal. It's interesting to see what the international border has done to prevent what usually happens organically."

The fact that the border has been closed for most of the last two years surely doesn't help.

He hopes to bring in Montréal artists on No Fun Intended, as well as have Canadian producers remix Burlington artists' tracks and vice versa. Originally from Boston, Kershaw wants the label's sphere eventually to include all of New England and the province of Québec but to keep its primary focus on Burlington.

"This city always tends to punch above its weight," Kershaw said. "When my friends from other, bigger cities visit, they're always a little surprised by how much of a scene we have for a place with less than 50,000 people. It's actually really similar to what I saw in Oakland and San Fran: There's a lot of hungry producers who need an outlet for their work. That's why I'm here."

To preview some of No Fun Intended's tracks, as well as the No Fun Podcast, head over to soundcloud.com/no_fun_intended.

Strings Attached

Takács Quartet - COURTESY OF AMANDA TIPTON
  • Courtesy Of Amanda Tipton
  • Takács Quartet

The Middlebury College Performing Arts Series comes to a close for the season on Friday, April 22, with quite a show. Called "one of the world's greatest string quartets" by no less than the New York Times, the Takács Quartet returns to the Olin C. Robison Concert Hall at the Mahaney Arts Center as part of the quartet's remarkable 47th season since forming in 1975.

The award-winning group, originally founded by Gábor Takács-Nagy in Budapest, is fresh from another Gramophone Classical Music Award in the Chamber category for the 2019 album Elgar & Beach: Piano Quintets, featuring pianist Garrick Ohlsson.

For the Middlebury show, the quartet will perform composer Maurice Ravel's String Quartet in F Major. Also on the bill is French musician Julien Labro, who will perform selected solo works for bandoneon and accordion. Labro will then join the Takács Quartet for a performance of three newly commissioned pieces, including one by rock band the National's Bryce Dessner titled "Circles," Brazilian composer Clarice Assad's "Clash" and Labro's own "Meditation #1."

Tickets are available at middlebury.edu/arts. The show will also be available for streaming and will remain online for a 48-hour window after the performance.