Wildarms frontman and music journalist Duncan Cooper curated a mix of favorites, rarities and pleasures from the esteemed house label, Naked Music. Ahead of the February 5 release of his Wildarms' Clear Eyes EP; Duncan, Cascine's Sandra Croft and Impose's Sjimon Gompers recall their memories of discovering the SF/NYC imprint at the turn of the millennium.
This is an aspirational mix, a mix of the music I wish I could make but know I'm not yet clever enough to pull off. Naked Music always got down to the bone of it: What is a song when it's naked? What's a track sound like when it's got nothing to hide? Well it sounds like the lushest, loungiest of lounge, apparently. Club music for the couch. It's impossible to feel lonely to Naked Music. As a label, they had the look, with those funky nude drawings, and they had their sound figured out to a T. And even if that sound isn't for everyone, for that person it is for—for me, obviously—hearing that shit is like getting wine drunk on a warm night and, though sometimes the whole city's construction seems to be about stopping this from happening, leaning back and seeing the stars.
Sandra Croft, Cascine
My obsession with Naked Music started in the long hot endless Toronto summer of 2001. Staying up all night and driving (while someone else did the actual driving) around the city, going deeper into this new strain of velvet house music I’d just started to get obsessed with. Here’s the thing: I don’t have a driving license, so unlike all other dreams in life, it still hasn’t been ruined. I have this idea of what driving at night listening to music should be like, and that’s what Naked Music was made for. It’s all about escapism. I’d recently discovered Ben Watt’s Lazy Dog mix, and on it, fallen in love with Lisa Shaw’s Always, a smooth soul jam that melted butter. In the year that followed I tracked down and bought every single record I could get my hands on from Naked Music, each one imagining the magic and mystery in empty roads and the deserted city in those hours between the sun going down and coming up again. Blue Six, Petalpusher, Gaelle, Aquanote, and especially the Nude Dimensions and Carte Blanche series – I still have them all, right here on my shelf. The sound of Naked Music painted this blissed-out future that I was sure always just around the corner. The Canadian winter would never return and we’d drive out to the Beaches anytime we wanted, get high and just get lost in Miguel Mig’s silky production. That never happened, but what did end up happening was those records wove themselves permanently into my life. Many years on from that day I have yet to discover another label that that put out music that was so confident, so assured, so evocative in its sound. When I met Jeff (our label boss at Cascine) and we both discovered we shared a love for Naked Music, it only made even more sense. To this day, more than ever, it is the bedrock of all the music I truly love and it has subconsciously become everything we reach for with our own label.
Sjimon Gompers, Week In Pop
My introduction to the Naked Music label was during the spring of 2000 where as a radio programmer for KAZU 90.3 FM I became enticed by the colorful pop art compilation promos and progressive lounge-lush grooves. Our music director was heavy into the electro atmospheric directions of the time where the endless pool life realms of Blue Six, Aquanote, Miguel Migs, swam laps of leisure around respective contemporaries from the labels Om, Ubiquity and Blue Note’s latent millennial acid jazz indulgences. Outside of the station, the SFxNYC label was sound tracking those intimate spaces spent driving back from afternoons spent in Big Sur and providing the best sensational post-show after party mixes set to chill.
The stripped beauty of Naked was their wave washes of calm, peaceful tides for a weird and wild time for music and the industry post Y2K. Having seen the demise of the indie dinosaurs of the 70s/80s in the 90s, I watched as the majors began doling out the Virgin-V2-vanity-indie-imprints as the college radio markets studied their weekly CMJ bibles to follow in KCRW’s footsteps to compete for the commercial audience’s listenership. But as our mornings became eclectic, so were the hot spring-drum & beat serenities undulating in those coastal airwaves from the voluminous series of Nude Dimensions, Bare Essentials, Carte Blanche with The Pearl and Beautiful Tomorrow on perpetual plays and repeat from morning to midnight.
Wildarms Naked Music Mix Tracklisting:
Blue Six, “Real As Anything”
Naked Music, “Samba Contigo”
Cpen, “Silver Surfer”
Blue Six, “A Woman of the Sea”
Blue Six, “Pure”
Blue Six, “Beautiful Tomorrow”
Aquanote, “Her Name Was Truly”
Miguel Migs, “Brand New Day”
Trentemøller, “Le Champagne”
Lovetronic, “You Are Love”
Blue Six, “Music and Wine (Conga Lounge Mix)”
Blue Six, “Bittersweet”
Lisa Shaw, “Always”
Miguel Migs, “Happiness Is Free”
Miguel Migs, “Spiritual (Distant)”
Miguel Migs, “Tengo Sed (Ron Trent Drum Mix)”
Gaelle, “Repetition (Deadleg Remix)”
Aquanote, “One Wish”
Naked Music, “Prelude”
The Wildarms Clear Eyes EP will be available February 5 from Cascine.