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Gabor Csupo of the Los Angeles animation studio Klasky-Csupo, which is currently preparing a Rugrats feature film, is a well-known figure in the cartoon world. But it turns out there's a musical side to the man as well, not least because of the fantastically edgy Duckman series. Csupo, a keyboard player from way back, who fled Hungary in 1975 with nothing but some clothes and his record collection, also runs two music labels, founded in 1995. Tone Casualties specializes in the darker side of ambient/industrial music; Casual Tonalities plumbs the same genres, but with a lighter, more lyrical and vocal-oriented slant. The biggest names and best sellers on the labels include Holger Czukay, Paul Schutze and Drew Neumann (composer of the Aeon Flux soundtrack), and if you've never heard of them, well, that's part of what it's all about.

"I'm a big music and art lover, and I wanted to combine the two," says Csupo, 45, who also has a disc of his own out, Zombient Music. "I'm giving musicians who otherwise might not get the exposure a chance to express themselves. People are experimenting, sometimes even when they don't know what they're doing."

Csupo is serious about this music, so much so that he believes ambient/computer-based music "is the classical music of the next century." His labels do get some retail distribution, but he's more excited about the growing mail order business via the Web. So is this music good to animate to? "It's very visual, good for short films, but it's not happy music," he says. "So it doesn't go well with funny cartoons."

Seen here is Klasky-Csupo cover art for a Casual Tonalities CD from Japanese

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