Right now is a great time for Touch. Hildur Guðnadóttir got everyone talking as the critically-acclaimed composer for Joker (2019). She is one of several notable artists who are a part of Touch, a collaborative music management company that goes beyond what it means to be a “record label.” The late, Oscar-nominated Jóhann Jóhannsson, also from the Touch family, is hailed as one of the great modern composers of today. And now there’s Claire M Singer, whose sound combines classical and electronic to form a unique ambiance within her music. We were excited to chat with Touch’s co-founder Mike Harding about the label behind so much sync-worthy artistry.
Quietus once described Touch as “defiantly not a record label,” to which Harding wholeheartedly agreed,
“The very term “record label” we find very restricting; we see ourselves more as a publishing imprint, an art project, whereby our curatorial and editorial skills are as equally important as the selection of artists with whom we choose to work (and who choose to work with us).”
Harding expressed a fundamental need to connect with artists he represents on a deep level,
“It’s a collaboration involving photography, design, aspects of management, publishing and releasing records, books, and any other suitable media. We’ve worked closely with many established artists and like to think we have been partly instrumental in helping shape their careers.”
It’s true that Touch has a history of helping to shape their artists’ careers. The avant-garde label began in 1982, at one point working closely with renowned composer Jóhann Jóhannsson in the early 2000s. The London-company released Jóhannsson’s very first album “Englabörn,” created for a play of the same name, in 2002 to critical acclaim. Jóhannsson’s 2nd album “Virthulega Forsetar” was released by Touch just a few years after, making it clear Jóhannsson was a name to watch. The skilled composer, along with several award nominations, won a Golden Globe for his work in Theory of Everything before his passing in February 2018.
After Touch worked with Hildur Guðnadóttir on 4 masterful albums between 2010 and 2014, the cellist and composer said to have been “passed the musical torch” from Jóhannsson, was recently featured in The Revenant, and in HBO’s Chernobyl and Trapped, and The Handmaid’s Tale.
This brings us to Claire M Singer, a Touch artist to watch. Her classical foundation—influenced by cerebral, futuristic, technical sounds—lives within a similar world of both Hildur Guðnadóttir and Jóhann Jóhannsson. Her project Fairge debuted via Touch in 2017. Just one year later she was tasked with scoring the music for the film Tell It To The Bees, starring Anna Paquin.
Her work in the Annabel Jankel film won the Festival Castell de Peralada Award this past August. As with her predecessors, we will likely see Singer’s work synced in upcoming films and shows.
With decades in the business and having worked with artists who’ve been featured on world-renowned film and TV, Harding was kind enough to share a bit of advice for up-and-coming composers hoping to follow in those footsteps. We’ll leave you with his words:
It’s a very difficult time for all creative people and a very crowded marketplace. The essential thing is to develop your own sound, your own signature. This can take a long time, often years, but without it you will just be one of the herd. Invest in yourself and always ask yourself the most difficult questions — you will find out what (the answers) are!
Secondly, work hard to understand the formats you are composing for and what the different approaches are. Making an album is a very different prospect from composing for film or TV, of course. Try to get advice from seasoned operatives within this field. Develop a relationship with someone who has worked in this area and has expertise. Touch has a mentorship program which encourages such things. Look for other individuals or organizations who have a similar set up.
Want to hear some of their music?