Mailing Lists, Physical Media, Podcasts / Mixes / Playlists, Website

I’ve been talking to several different label owners and radio hosts over the last few weeks. General theme of how do we lift up everyone in this genre of music – which for me is ambient and techno – the more minimal, atmospheric, dub leaning type of techno. Here’s a brief summary of some of those conversations as well as some specific thoughts and plans I have.

Mailing Lists

A label / artist / host NEEDS a mailing list. Everyone agrees there is more response from fans via email than social media. Social media is great but build your mailing list and provide them with useful information without over-saturating. I went out and looked at a lot of the mailing lists I subscribe to and they are almost all Mailchimp. I plan to create a Mailchimp account and make it very easy to sign up on this site. I also plan to keep the messages short and sweet and to the point. Otherwise, I fear I’ll lose people’s interest and they’ll unsubscribe.

The Kids These Days – Physical Media

When I think of most of the people under 30 I work with – or my nieces and nephews – etc… everyone streams. I don’t see any of them excited about buying a CD or a DVD movie. Most all of them stream from Spotify, Apple, Pandora, Netflix, Amazon, Youtube. Most don’t bother downloading anymore, what’s the point when everything is instantly available somewhere? Yes – I know there are very strong supporters of physical formats – and many Ambient fans are fond of CD’s and many Techno fans of Vinyl. I’m seeing lots of vinyl kickstarters out there and seeing some beautiful vinyl releases. I know in the past it was very cost prohibitive, and hopefully that’s changed a bit since the vinyl resurgence. I don’t think vinyl or CD is truly right for Relaxed Machinery at least at this time. I’ll stick with digital only.

Podcasts / Mixes / Playlists

I’ve also been thinking about alternative ways to find ears. I’m all about getting the music in front of people so they can hear it! With Relaxed Machinery Phase I and with AtmoWorks before that – people who did mixes really helped get the word out there to introduce new people to the music we were releasing. I will of course continue to provide promo to all of the people doing mixes and reviews and all that. But, can I do some of that myself? I thought about a podcast and quickly realized that’s one heck of a legal nightmare in licensing. However, mixes on a platform like Mixcloud – where I already listen to a ton of mixes – that has possibilities. Creating playlists on Apple and Spotify? That has possibilities. I’m still exploring this – but I’d love to do a fairly regular series of great music from many other artists and labels mixed in with the music coming out on Relaxed Machinery. Platforms like Mixcloud, Apple, Spotify all pay the artists in some fashion or other – even if it’s not as good as a direct sale, it’s something. This also ties in my belief in helping everyone.


So key… and so in disarray right now. I’m searching for the right wordpress template and then I’ll start building. My goal is to make it ridiculously easy to find our releases (both new and old), our artists, and key things like the mailing list and about the label.

Ok – that’s enough for now. Got some thoughts or comments? Hit me up at jrkoch5 [at] gmail


Time for an update!

I’ve had a couple of people reach out to me about releasing something in 2018.  Awesome.   Great to hear from old friends!

The new Relaxed Machinery will be a centralized label meaning it won’t be “self release… together” as we did the first 6 years.   I’m pulling it in and streamlining.   As always, the goal is to be a friendly partnership between rM and the artists.

I don’t think I’m going to keep the “cover art templates” like we did every year in the past.   Steve did such a cool job with those, but I think I’m going to keep it simple and have full edge to edge cover art for each album.

Standard releases will be digital on Bandcamp and distributed to digital outlets for sale / streaming.   However, special releases may be in different formats.

THE COG IS NOT GOING AWAY!   A lot of people have commented that I need to keep the cog – I never planned to drop it.  My posts and testing tagline just haven’t shown it.  It will evolve a bit, but that’s a long way from complete.

Taglines.  I still love the original tagline:   organic .: ambient :. techno

However, it feels limiting to me so I’ve been pondering it the last few weeks.  I floated a joke around the other day…

Yes!  I was kidding, but it was darn fun.  I’m a fan of old Godzilla movies.  🙂

A little more serious version – but still not the right thing… it’s a bit wordy but it explores all the aspects I see the label representing.  Ignore the font and background image:

“Adventured in…” reminds me of the old 1950’s radio show X Minus One intro:

Countdown for blastoff… X minus five, four, three, two, X minus one… Fire! [Rocket launch SFX] From the far horizons of the unknown come transcribed tales of new dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future; adventures in which you’ll live in a million could-be years on a thousand may-be worlds. The National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Street & Smith, publishers of Astounding Science Fictionpresents… X Minus One

“Cinematic Vistas” represents the soundtrack music that truly inspired my love of music that I found out to be later called “ambient”.   And then “Deep Kinetics” represents the movement and the beats.

However, it’s just too long!

My wife and I have been bouncing this around and we may have a good idea on how to make this tagline be a better description of the label and of each release.

More on that in a future post.


Leaning this way, leaning that…

I’m strongly leaning towards centralizing the releases and being a “proper label” in the sense of dropping the  “self release… together” concept from our first 6 years.   What this means is all releases would flow through the label and not be self released by each artist.  Of course, the artist retains all rights to their music in the long term.  I may wish for ‘x’ amount of exclusivity first though.

I’ve started the process of changing the website.  Yep – this is as basic of a WordPress Theme as humanly possible to use.  It’ll work for the near term.

I’m looking for a new tagline…  “organic .: ambient :. techno” just doesn’t feel right any longer.  This won’t be easy.   🙂

Cover art – I’m thinking of not doing templates for the front covers any longer.  The verdict is way out on this one…  a long time to decide.  Parts of me loves having an immediate cohesive artwork theme – and part of me wants the cover art to be specifically for each album and not have the label image get in the way.  We’ll see!

Until next time…



More relaunch thoughts…

More thoughts on the relaunch. Had a good conversation with a friend on whether I should release everything as a label or continue how all previous albums werereleased in the “self release… together” mode – where the artist uploads or gets cdr’s made and then keeps 100% of their profit.

The least “fun” thing for me during my AtmoWorks co-owning years was tracking the money. John (Vir) always paid the artists from my reports, and handled the taxes end, but just doing the reporting was a pain. But! Is it worth it as a label going forward? The label did do a ton of work for each release and Steve, Geoff and I volunteered our time to make each release the best possible. Lots of time to ponder that one.

As you noticed from last week’s post – I’m planning more short 30 minutes give or take releases instead of long form 60 – 90 minute ones. I do plan to be fully digital. I don’t see a major point of doing physical releases except for special projects. Yes, there will be some long form albums – just depends on the project, artist, etc…

On my own music… which I do plan to have something of mine be the first release for relaunch… I have all the cabling and power yet to go – as well as the setup of the pedal board. Heidi (my wife!) and I bought some PVC pipe to route wires through in the closet. Have to experiment with that. Good idea of Heidi’s! The closet is in pretty much permanent setup now.

Thanks for reading – any comments or questions are very welcome!

John / Relaxed Machinery

Hey there! Long time no see!

Quick note to say I’m slowly coming out of hibernation.   I tore down my studio and rebuilt it again.  It’s looking great.  I’m feeling excited about recording music again.  I’m feeling excited about launching Relaxed Machinery into Phase 2 of it’s life.

The new Relaxed Machinery will focus on shorter releases – think of them more like EP’s or 12″ singles.   Beginning to think about new logo and branding. This will all take time.  But, I will start posting here regularly.


ton progress 4 day holiday. pla - johnkochnorthrup | ello

Thank you. Going on hiatus.

I’ve thought a long time about whether to take a break from Relaxed Machinery. The time has come. I need to recharge my batteries. rM will be on hiatus for the rest of 2016.

We launched rM in January 2010 with a Steve Brand release… and it’s fitting that we close this phase of Relaxed Machinery with another Steve Brand release – The Path of the Heart.

55 Album Releases. An amazing array of artists from around the world. Support from a wide variety of radio hosts, reviewers, podcasters, and fans. How could I ask for more? This has been a wonderful six years.

Relaxed Machinery has been co-run this entire time by Steve Brand – and I’d love for you to support his music going forward at

Geoff Small joined rM shortly after launch, and has done so much for the label. He relaunched earthMANTRA and it’s already a stellar label again.

Thanks also to Joel Sutton, who’s been maintaining this site for years now. He’s the best.

Thanks to everyone that ever listened. Please support the artists wherever they release.

John Koch-Northrup

Steve Brand new release and premiere!

The premiere was fantastic, thank you, SomaFM!  Check out Steve's new album at:

Steve Brand's latest release "The Path of the Heart" debuts on SOMA FM's Drone Zone this Wednesday 5/18 and releases officially on Friday the 20th! CD versions are available for pre-order now on Steve's Bandcamp page at

Join us in chat on Wednesday night during the debut at - either join now, or on the day of the premiere we'll open up chat for everyone to log in even if you're not a member.  Check back here for the link.



Premiere on SomaFM – Kloob – Solid Foundations

We are so thrilled to once again have a our new album premiered on SomaFM Drone Zone!   SomaFM has been such a huge help to us over the years.

This Friday, March 4 at Noon Pacific Time on

A quick way to find out what time it is in your part of the world is to type into google:   “noon pacific time in Barcelona” and put your city there.

Result:   12:00 PM Thursday, Pacific Time (PT) is 9:00 PM Thursday, in Barcelona, Spain

Dani is back with his 2nd release on Relaxed Machinery:   Kloob – Solid Foundations.   It’s an excellent album of ambient music with Dani focusing in on his favorite topics of interest: metaphysics, attraction, emotions management, extraterrestrial life, astral projection and personal development.


Chat during the Premiere for Steve Brand’s new album

steve songs from unknown banner

We’re thrilled here at Relaxed Machinery (rM) to present a new album from Steve Brand – Songs From Unknown Territory!  The album is released on Steve’s Pioneer Light label.

We’ll be listening to the album on Soma FM Drone Zone on Friday, Oct 2, at 5 pm Pacific Time.

We’ll also be chatting during the show on hipchat.  Two ways to chat…

Sign up for Relaxed Machinery Chat: Relaxed Machinery Hipchat Signup

Or as a guest:  Guest Access to Chat

Important (but annoying!) – last time we were overrun by spammers and trolls via guest chat and I had to disable it. Please sign up as a member for the chat and that way you won’t get dropped from chat if by some off chance it happens again.  We’ve had the chat for about 6 months and that’s the first time.  I hope it doesn’t repeat!

More about Steve  

Steve has been co-running rM since the beginning. His ideas and influence are all over the label.  We wouldn’t be rM without the combined ideas of Steve, Geoff Small, and me (John Koch-Northrup).

More about Songs From Unknown Territory

steve songs from unknown coverThe first sketches for “Unknown Territory…” were originally begun in 09.11.11, parallel to several other projects. At the time, I had the intuitive sense that large changes were about to occur, although I had no real idea of the who-what-where-how of it all. This group of songs is imbued with that sense of mystery, uneasy anticipation, anxious discovery, hope, longing and even nostalgia for the once familiar. While creating these pieces, I had the mental picture of vast landscapes, long-abandoned homesteads leaning on hillsides, rough roads dwindling to foot trails finally leading to uninhabited vistas, ancient handmade maps indicating the edge of the known world portraying vaguely rendered mythical landscapes and inhabitants of the regions beyond. I would say a story is told in the unfolding of the tracks, from the darkly anthemic opening of “Song From Unknown Territories,” followed by the mid-section, “Some Are Things Of Substance, Some Are Not” expressing the longing for familiar faces and shores, ending with the closing scenes of “Beyond The Edge Of A Flat Earth.”

Composed entirely of pads, bells, whistles and voices, “…Unknown Territory” times in at about 75 minutes and will be released on CDr in a full color bi-fold digipack and as hi-res downloads.


steve songs from unknownTrack List:
song from unknown territory 11:22
when i’ve left behind all that i was 12:12
some are things of substance, some are not 14:57
the pause just before the great exhalation 12:12
beyond the edge of a flat earth 12:12


“song from unknown territory”

how fortunate am i
orange sliver moon
window seat with rabbit
cricket just outside my window
making faces at birds
glow from the trees
cicada mustache

images of the best life

terribly intimate things
i choose to share with the world
(via social media)

i was never good at pretending
that I didn’t know things I know
in order to console others

lace curtains
crumbled down old place
window looking out on holler
coins in a jar buried at the foot of the tree
leaving old homes behind

there out in the scrub
among the brambles and cocklebur
beyond the edge of a flat earth
two wild cats jump my fence and play

leaving the hive
how fortunate am i

released 25 September 2015

Massergy Premiere – Friday 5 pm Pacific


somafm rm massergy 9 17 2015

Join us tomorrow for the premiere of the new album by Massergy – A Novel Sense of Calm on SomaFM Drone Zone!

There will be a live chat during the premiere with Massergy there to answer questions. It’s always a great time! Details for the chat will be on the label website:

You can listen to the album today if you’d like!

Massergy’s new ambient album is a tribute to the passing of his younger brother. He recorded this album:

+ entirely outdoors in a nature preserve
+ at night with just a headlamp
+ no sequencing, no software, no post-effects
+ the only in-studio changes were volume levels

This is passion. This is dedication. In the outdoors, Massergy can reach that ‘zone’ musicians strive for. This album was recorded year round – he mentioned he was bundled up like a mountain climber in the winter and barely dressed during the summer months.

Ignoring “how” it was recorded… the album itself is beautiful and to my ears… stunning. Massergy is new to Relaxed Machinery and I’m so happy we brought him on board!