Jonny Greenwood Launches Classical Music Label

In addition to his role in a rock band as Radiohead’s lead guitarist, Jonny Greenwood is a big contemporary classical composer. Just last week, he debuted a new work for strings at a BBC Proms concert that he himself curated. And today, he has some more news: he’s starting a label for classical music.

As he explains in a statement on Octatonic Records’ new website:

“This year, I’m launching a new record label, called Octatonic Records.

I’ve decided to start documenting the musicians I encounter in the contemporary classical world. Since doing my first soundtrack, I’ve become friends with lots of these remarkable musicians, as well as more familiar with the music they play. It’s a whole world out there.

I’m only recording soloists, or small groups, and as it’s my party, including in the releases some of my own small ideas that have never been recorded, like ’88’ (for solo piano), and ‘Miniatures from Water’ for piano, violin, string drone and tanpura.

My intention is to capture them playing the pieces they love, both contemporary and ancient, and release the recordings on vinyl and streaming services, as regularly as I can. The first two releases should include music by Bach, Messiaen and Michael Gordon, and we have plans to record some Steve Reich in our next session.

The sessions we’ve already had with some of these friends have been glorious – any excuse to hear them play – but more importantly, I want to produce a great, intimate recording, that captures the music in a way that does justice to their talent, and the composers they chose.

I stand in awe of classically trained UK musicians: a 20-something carrying a cello case will always be more impressive than someone with a guitar. It’s just harder to do. It takes more commitment, and the sounds they make are so limitless – for all that the instruments they play are ‘traditional’.

I hope these recordings encourage more people to see live classical music, and to take an interest in the featured artists. And, whilst a recording can only ever be an approximation of the real thing, I’m going to work hard to produce recordings that encourage you to see this music as something vital and passionate.”

Limited pressings of the label’s first two releases, featuring Bach’s Partita No.2 in D Minor, Michael Gordon’s “Industry”, and “Three Miniatures From Water,” are available for pre-order now.