Operating under a poetical “no genre” philosophy, Leaving Records has played a continuous and vital role as a vanguard tastemaker imprint, while simultaneously acting as an outlet for some of Los Angeles’ most inventive musical minds. From authoritative neck-bending beatscene classics to neoteric and astral new age compositions, the label has achieved a complex and alluring mastery over its DIY aesthetic and sound, allowing it to further amplify its reach with each passing year.
Established and operated by the radiant and genial meditation maverick, Matthew McQueen (a.k.a Matthewdavid), Leaving Records started off as an experimental cassette-based art project between himself and the talented visual artist/ longtime friend, Jesse Moretti, in 2008. Seduced by the early beatscene in LA and the promise of sunny skies and desert landscapes, Matthew moved from Florida to Southern California where he picked up internships at Plug Research and the reputable underground radio station, Dublab. It was there that he befriended some of LA’s most notorious DJs and producers. “My bosses asked if they could share my music with people at Dublab; I was making a weird amalgam of stuff at the time,” explained McQueen during a sit down at the Stones Throw office in Highland Park. “Lots of demos, weird collage tape experiments, freak-folk and hip-hop... I didn’t have any reservations about my music, so they started sharing with artists like Jimmy Tambarello (a.k.a Dntel) and Flying Lotus. They were totally interested and wanted to be friends.”
Matthew's comprehensive and modern bohemian sound quickly became a trusted source of inspiration for many of the artists that he had formed close relationships with. Over time, Matthewdavid’s sonic escapades served as a notable point of reference for artists such as Ras G, Teebs, Shlohmo, Nosaj Thing, Mono/Poly, Knxwledge, and countless others. Flying Lotus even sampled an early track of McQueen's, titled "Tallahassee Tapes," for the cut “Golden Diva” from his seminal sophomore album Los Angeles. “I was always the weirdo showing them freaky stuff and trying to inspire them to take a more experimental direction with their music,” McQueen explains, “To this day it is a really great position to be in.”
With a constant stream of gifted and undiscovered artists coming through Dublab each passing day, McQueen was given the opportunity to develop what was once an art project into a full-fledged cassette-focused label that would soon establish itself as Los Angeles’ most treasured experimental music brand. “Becoming friends with all those artists through Dublab and discovering music that didn’t really have an outlet... we would simply confront them with an honest approach while allowing them to kind of experiment with us as a label in this art release oriented way.” Working with cassettes was affordable and would lend itself comfortably to McQueen and Moretti’s preferred visual aesthetic, which was in part born out of an appreciation for the experimental noise and punk underground scene back in Tallahassee (where they both went to college).
The packaging, assembly, and artwork of Leaving Records’ tapes are a vital part of the its alluring nature. While almost all music is available digitally (a huge portion of which can be downloaded for free via Leavingrecords.com), the label has consistently depleted its physical stock due to a high demand for these enticingly tangible and personal pieces of art. In 2013, the label signed a promotional and distribution agreement with the weighty and illustrious Stones Throw Records. Both labels now operate under the same roof and the union has proven to be an exquisitely symbiotic relationship. “It’s a blessing to have Stones Throw as a distribution partner…like a big blessing. The guys in the dungeon help me ship stuff out and Stones Throw helps me make vinyl now which is huge.”
When it comes to Matthewdavid’s current sound, the artist has found solace and resolve in his ineffably serene Matthewdavid’s Mindflight project. Having just released his Trust The Guide and Glide album in late March, under his ethereally-focused Mindflight moniker, he has taken his remedial and tonal music to new heights. The accessible nature of his modern new age sound has captured the imagination of wide-eyed Leaving fans from around the globe. “This is an outlet for open minds,” explains McQueen when discussing his label’s approach to unity and gap-bridging. “I feel like a kid or a person or a music fan who is unrehearsed with experimental, ambient, new age but really is into the more beat scene stuff on Leaving, can discover and can be open to the other genres and styles within the repertoire. If you are a Leaving Records follower, you are kind of signed up for whatever.”
Leaving Records’ musical output continues to refuse classification, and with well over 100 releases under its belt, the imprint’s extensive discography is as strong as it has ever been. We asked Matthew to pick out 10 releases from Leaving Records that played a crucial role in the development of his music label.
Check out 10 essential releases from Leaving Records—as chosen by Matthewdavid—by navigating to the following pages.