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Label Profile: Semata Productions


From the time Ricardo Donoso arrived in Boston from Brazil to study music, he’s been a force to be reckoned with. I first became aware of him, when he started organizing improv, jazz, and noise shows at the old Chickering Piano Factory in the South End, featuring a broad array of musicians from the city’s noise, free jazz, and improv scenes. It was out of this series that his label, Semata Productions, was born.

At first, Donoso used the label much as he did the series: to showcase local artists, but the label’s roster has since grown to encompass a wider geographical swath of artists (including folks like Sweden’s Alvars Orkester) — though it still has a distinctly Boston focus. Semata has also grown stylistically, reflecting Donoso’s far-ranging musical tastes, which include 12-tone metal, noise, minimalism, and techno (check out his new solo album for an example of that).

Ricardo will be be my guest on RF on Thursday, September 29 to play music from label’s catalog.

First Semata release

The Epicureans introducing CDr.

Most recent Semata release

Scuba Death, Demon Seed LP

How did you first become interested in experimental music? How is that related to your decision to move to Boston? I’ve heard the two are closely related.

They are. I was listening to a lot of music and playing all kinds of stuff during high school and just beginning to explore composition and electronics. I made the decision to move to Boston in order to attend music school. The scene around here is quite remarkable, which was a big motivator when it came to staying.

Semata began as a concert series, correct? Could you talk about how that started?

I’ve been using the name Semata since 2004, and yes it began as a concert production alias. Way before I had the space at the Piano Craft, I would throw some shows at the zeitqiest once in a while with college friends, most of which revolved around heavy free jazz and noise. It was a kind of an inside joke to label the flyers with Semata Productions, between my Brazilian friends and I (some of whom I was at school with) - from then on i just stuck with that, due to the ambiguity surrounding it.

What, in turn, prompted you to start the label?

The label seemed to be a natural next step at the time. I was also interested in releasing my music and having control to do it all as I pleased. I also wanted to expose some of the music we were hosting at the shows, lots of killer local stuff that needed more exposure.

What is the significance of the name?

The name is a well-guarded secret. It has meaning in multiple languages, and depending on the enunciation of the word can mean very different things. It also works as a acronym.

How would you describe Semata’s musical aesthetic and how has it changed since it started?

The musical aesthetic is all over the place, but I think all releases and forthcoming releases share some common threads. My main concern is originality, people who have their own voice, take risks and are constantly evolving their sound — thats what I’m into publishing. The landscape hasn’t changed much I would say since the inception, even though the first two releases could be called ‘improv’ records, to me, they are noise records. I only put out music that i really love, and that i think needs to be heard by more people.

Is there a release that you consider the quintessential Semata release?

Not yet.

What’s been the biggest change since you began the label?

We’re planning a lot more vinyl editions, and coming up with the resources for that can be exhausting. Luckily, the biggest change is my man Lee Tindall has been basically running the label with me for some time now. He basically takes care of art/layout stuff but also provides insurmountable help with all facets of the label, that has been a amazing resource for the label.

What releases do you currently have in the pipeline?

Lots planned for end of year next year. Some tapes coming out in a few weeks (delays at the plant), including: Alvars Orkester, Belarisk, Pierrot Lunaire then another batch late in the year with KFW, Family Battle Snake, another Berlin based composer, Transitoire, and then LP’s by KPLR, Sewer Election, and Dungeon Acid.


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