Labels We Love: Efficient Space (Melbourne)

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Join us 2-5pm today at In Sheep’s Clothing NYC for a listening session dedicated to Efficient Space!

Few labels command our attention as consistently and completely as Michael Kucyk’s Melbourne-based Efficient Space. From the seminal Sky Girl compilation to the absolutely essential reissue of Steve Hiett’s elusive Down On the Road By the Beach to YL Hooi’s recent post-dub experiments to Time is Away’s 2023 bar-raiser Searchlight Moonbeam, each release arrives like a gift, sparking new obsessions and opening up pathways into lost or uncharted worlds of sound.

Launched in 2015, Efficient Space emerged from Kucyk’s long-running cult radio show and music blog Noise in My Head expanding on the project’s “freeform sonic excursions” with a more focused presentation of archival projects rooted in Australia’s DIY music scenes. “I feel compelled to champion the underdog,” says Kucyk in an interview for Carhartt WIP. “Whether that be people who consciously made music in the shadows to an audience of none, or circumstantially had no means to navigate the industry. Some of this music was just too ahead of its time to be understood and appreciated.”

Beyond its loner folk, dream pop, and post-punk releases, the label also has a club and dub underbelly that reflects Australia’s rich history of soundsystem culture. Personal favorites include Blazer Sound System and CS & Kreme’s split 10″ Tanka Riddim / Crushed Cream and Andras and Instant Peterson’s ’90s Australian dance music compilation 3AM Spares.

Today, we’ll be dedicating our Monday afternoon listening session to all things Efficient Space. Below, check an interview with Michael Kucyk covering the label’s beginnings, favorite compilations, under-appreciated Australian music scenes, and more!

What is your earliest memory of music?

My mum driving around the burbs listening to Elton John and Micheal Bolton cassettes.

Your background is in radio and you also previously ran an amazing music blog called Noise in My Head. How did Efficient Space come to be from the foundations set by these earlier projects?

Noise In My Head routinely broadcasted over 13 years, initially on Melbourne community station 3RRR FM and then on NTS. Launching the label seemed like a logical extension – we had an engaged audience and were already in talks with prospective artists about deadstock and archives.

The blog-style website you mention actually ghosted recently. After a $22 invoice that was hiding in my junk mail past its due date, my host cancelled their service and without warning, deleted the 8 years of mixes, tracklists, blurbs and flyers. I was devastated for a minute before accepting that nothing lasts forever. At least the last 100 shows are still available on NTS.




Can you describe the ethos/approach behind the label?

To amplify marginal works, honour artists’ stories and present something new to the open minded.

Efficient Space also presents events including the Independent Music Exchange and Ace Hotel Sydney series. Can you talk about these projects and how they relate to the label’s work as a whole?

The Independent Music Exchange was an idea my then-studio neighbors Butter Sessions and I had been trying to get off the ground for years. It was essentially a two-day market that congregated all of the quiet achieving imprints that don’t really identify with the larger industry. 56 labels set up shop including Finders Keepers, Surprise Chef’s College of Knowledge, The Roundtable, Good Morning Tapes, HTRK’s N&J Blueberries, Left Ear Records and Research. It was such a positive community-building experience. Here’s hoping we can make it an annual happening.

Ace Hotel Sydney kindly offered us a quarterly event series after we curated their 320-piece in-house vinyl library. So far we’ve hosted live performances from John Carroll Kirby and 5AM (in their second ever show), and DJ sets from Trevor Jackson, Chee Shimizu, Jeff Dread and e fishpool. The hotel is refreshingly on the level and it’s been an amazing platform to unlock free events that might not happen in Sydney otherwise. I’m still bugging out on Chee Shimizu’s listening session. It was levitational.

Chee Shimizu & Michael Kucyk, Ace Hotel Sydney

The label has a focus (though not exclusively) on music recorded in Australia. A lot of this stuff seems pretty unknown to international audiences. What are some Australian music scenes / sounds that you’re particularly interested in or think more people should know about?

The folk involved with the Clifton Hill Community Music Centre – e.g. Philip Brophy, David Chesworth and Ros Bandt – have been pretty fundamental to the label. Likewise with the Sydney dub scene that gave us Jeff Dread, Andy Rantzen, Sheriff Lindo, Atone and Ali Omar. Some of that crew also had links with Clan Analogue, an interstate electronic collective that boasted Ian Andrews (aka The Horse He’s Sick and Hypnoblob) and influential femme-tech duo B(if)tek in their membership network.

Clifton Hill Community Music Centre






Sky Girl is now quite widely regarded as one of the great compilations of the last decade. What are some of your personal favorite compilations / ones that have inspired you?

I’ll forever be indebted to Julien Dechery and DJ Sundae for Sky Girl. I was really chuffed that it drew comparisons to Personal Space (Electronic Soul 1974 – 1984). Similarly Numero Group’s Louis Wayne Moody High had cool incidental synergy with Ghost Riders. The two volumes of Can’t Stop It on Chapter Music are essentially the bible for Australian post-punk. I often reflect on how much of a heroic feat it would have been to research and license Volume 1 with the internet being in its infancy at the time. From across the pond, Strangelove’s Kiwi Animals comp captured the ‘80s art rock/pagan folk/DIY scene in Aotearoa, leaving me inspired and admittedly envious.




I recently house-sat for a good friend who had worked at Soul Jazz’s Australian distributor in the label’s golden era and had all the catalogue classics – the Studio One sets, New York Noise, Tropicália, In the Beginning There Was Rhythm, Acid: Can You Jack?, New Thing! etc. It was great revisiting those. You could take some of them for granted as beginners guides now but they were huge foundations of knowledge when they came out.

What is coming up next for the label?

Next is actually a compilation of loner folk, spiritual believers and high schoolers curated by our mastering engineer Mikey Young. The release date is still to be confirmed but I did ship ISC an approved test pressing to preview at the listening session.

I’m really psyched to soon be releasing more contemporary artists. First up is the new album for Th Blisks which is essentially Troth + Yuta Matsumura. It sounds like they’re taking cues from Sarah Records, blunted hip hop breaks, industrial, melodica dub and procession songs in tandem, while totally on their own trip.

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