By Scott Christensen, June 23, 2017 —
Inner Ocean Records is a Calgary record label that mainly releases lo-fi and experimental hip-hop music. The label, which began in 2012, recently released Bless Vol. 1 — the proceeds of which will be donated to help Syrian civilians during the ongoing civil war.
Cory Giordano began the label as a way to release and catalog his own music.
“I was doing a lot more of my own music and I was releasing with other little labels at the time and some of them would up and disappear on you,” Giordano says. “I did it as a side project for three years and it’s only been [about] a year and a half that I’ve been like, ‘I think I can push this and do it as more of a full-time gig.’”
Although the label now primarily releases hip-hop, Inner Ocean began with a focus on experimental music. It wasn’t until Victoria lo-fi hip-hop artist bsd.u submitted an album that Inner Ocean shifted towards the genre. However, Giordano says the label is always evolving, noting that Inner Ocean may not always focus on hip-hop either.
“I’m always looking at other things and trying to expand the sound,” he says, “I think we’ve kind of got pinned as a lo-fi hip-hop thing — we have a lot more in there than just lo-fi hip-hop — that’s sort of just the trending genre.”
Giordano hopes to use music as a medium for activism with Bless Vol. 1 — a two-tape set with 111 lo-fi tracks, amounting to nearly four hours of music. He was inspired by the documentary White Helmets.
“The portrayal in this video is that they would save anyone’s life, whether that person buried under the rubble was a terrorist, or a civilian, or whoever, they were just going to help people,” Giordano says. “So the idea was that the money was going to help train these people — buying them supplies like first aid kits, helmets, defibrillators, ropes and headlamps — the money should just be going to helping these people save people.”
All proceeds from the release will go to the White Helmets in Syria.
Despite the fact that Inner Ocean Records is run out of Giordano’s home, the label has an eclectic online presence. Giordano says that with the right tools, anyone can create music.
“Inner Ocean, for its entirety, has been mostly people from all over the world contributing music, so it’s been this really cool online community, but in terms of Inner Ocean on the ground, it’s been very non-existent,” he says. “I’ve been pushing it a little bit more in the past year so I think it would be nice to develop that a little bit more and have Inner Ocean showcase or showcase other artists that aren’t on the label and be able to take that to some other cities.”
Bless Vol. 1 is available online.