Kill Rock Stars: Artists First And Always
Label owner Portia Sabin weighs in on the big questions..
What are the core beliefs of Kill Rock Stars?
That supporting amazing musicians is worth taking risks, both financially and emotionally.
What are 3 KRS releases you’d give someone who’d never heard of KRS?
Our output has been so eclectic that I’d have to give them a comp… actually several comps! We always used to want to showcase the best of what was out there at any given time whether the artist was on KRS or not, so to begin with they’d have to listen to the “Kill Rock Stars” comp from 1991. I think that album is really a piece of history, since it has Bratmobile, Unwound, Mecca Normal, Nirvana, Heavens to Betsy, the Melvins, 7 Year Bitch, etc. Then in 2002 we put out “Fields and Streams”, which has songs by bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Aislers Set, The Mooney Suzuki, and an amazing cover by Neko Case. Then our 2006 comp “The Sound the Hare Heard” featured singer-songwriters and has people like Sufjan Stevens, Laura Veirs, Thao Nguyen, and Wooden Wand. That album also has some of the most beautiful art of all time, in my opinion.
It’s hard not to want to give Elliott Smith’s “Either/Or” and Sleater-Kinney’s “Dig Me Out” to someone who had never heard of the label, because those albums are just straight up masterpieces. In terms of great albums that not that many people have heard, I’d suggest Two Ton Boa’s self-titled ep, which I really love, the Quix*o*tic album “Mortal Mirror”, and Numbers’ “Now You Are This”. We’ll be dripping some of those out to subscribers for sure!
At 21 years, what has KRS has learned that is of note?
Probably that people still make great music, even as times and trends change. Sometimes people get really stuck in the past and say “it was better in my day”, and for a label that’s been around as long as we have there’s always the danger of basically becoming a museum to the year 1994. But we consciously decided not to do that, to keep looking forward, and I think that has been a good move. I still listen to demos and I’m always so excited when I hear a band doing something new and fresh, it helps keep my passion for music burning.
What can fans expect from your service?
A wide range of great stuff, some blasts from the past and a bunch of the new music we have coming up. Special prizes, various goodies. We want everyone who subscribes to have fun with this!
Turbo Recordings: A Northern Story
We asked Thomas Sontag, the A&R and “Vibe Chief” of the Turbo family a few questions.
What are 3 releases you’d give someone who’d never heard of Turbo and you wanted to get excited.
The problem is that Turbo has released so much music, so I’ll have to cheat and choose a couple of comps…
Omnidance - The definitive guide to the label’s history up to 2009. Some massive tracks from Proxy, ZZT’s masterpiece “Lower State of Consciousness”, and notable appearances from legends like Jesper Dahlback, Jori Hulkkonen, and DMX Krew. A little Tiga, Boys Noize and Chromeo in there for good measure too. Don’t ever say I don’t care about good measure.
New Jack Techno - The most concise musical statement we’ve made in years, and possibly the creation of a genre. This comp marks more than a new direction for us, but has helped launched a whole new crop of talent: Gingy & Bordello, Clouds, Locked Groove, Nautiluss, and more.
Duke Dumont - For Club Play Only - Cheating a bit here as well as this is a series of EPs. We’ve just done the second one which features “The Giver”, which was surely one of the biggest house records of the year, so we’ve read in Beatport Magazine. His next EP is going to be amazing as well. Duke has been one of my favourite remixers and producers for a while, and it’s great to see him come into his own with massive records that hit the sweet spot for playable jacking house bombs. I think every serious artist should strive towards “playable” as an ideal.
What is it about Canadians and good music?
I think there’s a big geographical component. We’ve got an extreme climate with 4-6 months of freezing temperatures, it definitely keeps people busy working inside for a big chunk of the year, and I think that has a lot to do with creative output in general. Basically, we become miserable recluses. Also, we’re close enough to everything to get all the influences and to reach the world stage. Then I think there are also some financial considerations… Montreal especially is still pretty cheap so it supports the artistic/pretentious vagrant lifestyle, especially music, which subsists a lot better than other arts because of its tie to the omnipresent business of nightlife and nightlife-related concerns. Almost everyone I know in Montreal works or has worked in nightlife, which is shocking because I’m so well-rounded. On top of that, the Canadian government still gives A LOT of money to help artists record, promote and generally establish themselves, or even to “just have fun with it”.
Your brother is Tiga, tell us a crazy story about growing up together.
I’m almost seven years younger than Tiga so when he was getting serious about DJing, opening the record store and throwing raves I was still really young… like 11. Most kids in my grade were only listening to like Pearl Jam and I had Altern-8 tapes, and the ideal of raves to look up to.
While it didn’t seem crazy at the time, in retrospect it was kind of nuts what happened as a result of that influence. I started going to raves really young, just catching the tail end of the really dope parties in Montreal before things shifted over to clubs. I was a very young 14, really tiny and pre-pubescent and I went with this friend of mine who was a 6’4” basketball player. We ate mushrooms on the shuttle bus and went to see Tiga play a Halloween party called Realm. I didn’t even go say hi to Tiga at the party or even figure out or care where the DJ booth was. He was playing trance back then and I tripped hard, dancing all night long, sniffing a friendly girl’s vicks inhaler, and feeling very cool even though I was sweating wearing my bros rainbow sjobeck tuque that I borrowed. I LOVED it. Because of the age difference, I think it took a while before he realized how much I had picked up and knew about the music. Eventually I started working part time at his record store when I was 17. Sorry, none of this is sounding that crazy, but somehow everything we do together seems entirely un-crazy to me.
You started a subscription service before, why move to drip?
We had initially planned to offer things like guest-list services and more of a direct, ‘club-house’ kind of interaction with subscribers, but unfortunately we never managed to realize all our web dreams. There’s nothing more bittersweet than a web dream just escape your grasp. Having a partner that can work on the technical solutions means a lot, and we have a lot of faith in the stuff that Ghostly do, and feel close to the roster of labels signed on so far. I think it’s helpful for us to crew up, share some ideas, and build a platform that works for all our individual brands. That’s what crewin’ up is all about, right?
What can fans expect from your drip.fm service?
I’ve got a lot of ideas I think our fans - and particularly would-be producers - will be excited about. We’ll definitely be reserving a lot of exclusive content… bonus remixes, photos, videos, artist features, passwords to nowhere, and stuff like that. Some bigger ideas are in the works, but it’s probably best to get the basic service rolling before getting ahead of ourselves. I will say this: printable bathrobe stencils.
“For our first exclusive giveaway on Drip.fm, we decided to prove we’re not in the business of horsing around. Rather than present you with an old rejected remix of a track you don’t even like, we’re giving you a brand new bomb from Turbo superstars Clouds.
This is really happening. More than you bargained for. Maybe more than you deserve. Please enjoy with an appropriate amount of awe and humility.”
Join Club Turbo Today!
Six Degrees: Globe-Spanning Musical Adventures
Six Degrees is a San Francisco based label founded by Pat Berry and Bob Duskis in 1996. With a history in bringing global music to American shores, their motto of “Everything is closer than you think” is aptly fitting.
Starting out as part of the illustrious Island Records, Six Degrees ventured into independent territory and have found success with international acts like Algerian-born and San Francisco based Cheb i Sabbah, French duo The Dø, Malians Issa Bagayoga and Vieux Farka Toure, Brazilians Bebel Gilberto and Céu, Egyptian-born and London based Natacha Atlas, and Iranian artist Azam Ali.
We asked Bob Duskis a little about what makes the label what it is.
Q. What was the first release on the label and why?
Oddly enough, our first release was a Hanukkah compilation called Festival Of Light. Before we founded Six Degrees, Pat & I had been working at Windham Hill records, where we released a number of non traditional holiday records that sold really well. We noticed however that everything was geared towards Christmas and there were no Hanukkah records that were even remotely cool, so we set out to fill that niche. Festival Of Light had a really diverse line up that included everyone from John Zorn to Don Byron to Peter Himmelman and it wound up being quite successful.
Q. Talk about the success of Bebel Gilberto, I remember discovering your label with her debut album.
Bebel came to us as part of a North American licensing deal that we had with the great Brussels based indie label, Crammed Discs. Early on in Six Degrees’ development, I found out that Crammed was starting a Brazilian imprint called Ziriguiboom and it seemed to fit perfectly into what we were trying to do with Six Degrees. I reached out to folks I knew at Crammed and we quickly made a deal where Six Degrees became the exclusive North American licensee for everything that came out on Ziriguiboom. A few months into the deal, they sent us an early mix of Bebel’s Tanto Tempo record and Pat and I immediately knew it was something special that had great potential.
Q. Which aspect of what you do as a label gets you most excited on any given day?
For me, the most exciting part of the job is working with incredibly talented artists from around the planet. Some of our roster have been with us since we started and they feel almost like family. On the other hand, there is a great thrill in discovering and working with new artists as well. There are many things that are deeply damaged about the music business these days but in my opinion, there is no shortage of fantastic new music coming from all corners of the globe. I am constantly amazed & surprised by the sounds coming into my inbox on a daily basis.
Q. Name 3 Six Degrees records you’d say are crucial listening for a new fan?
Hard to pick just three- but if you put my feet to the fire:
Cheb i Sabbah’s Shri Durga is a real classic of South Asian fusion that I would highly recommend to anyone.
Ceu’s Vagarosa mixes Brazilian music with Dub, Reggae and Hip Hop in a way that is entirely unique and enticing.
Shrift’s Lost In A Moment is one of my all time favorite releases. It mixes really gorgeous ambient textures with the goose bump inducing vocals of Nina Miranda who sings in both English & Portuguese.
Q. Why are you looking forward to starting a subscription service for Six Degrees?
I think this is an exciting new model for independent labels and the record business in general. I think it’s a great way for fans to get a lot of value for their money while directly supporting their favorite labels.
Check out Six Degrees’ drip.fm service which is chock full of subscription exclusives, classic, and new releases.
Polyvinyl Record Co.: 15 years of magic
Matt Lunsford is the co-founder of Polyvinyl Record Co., a Champaign, IL based label with over 15 years of history, representing artists such as Japandroids, of Montreal, Deerhoof, Xiu Xiu, Vivian Girls, Saturday Looks Good To Me, and many more bands of merit.
Q. Tell us about the name, always assumed it was about vinyl, but wanted to check.
Yep. We started Polyvinyl putting out fanzines and 7”s in the mid 90s (CD era…vinyl was on the decline then) but we were looking for a great name and Polyvinyl was perfect. We were surprised that no one else had grabbed the name.
Q. What was the release that made you realize that you were a “real label” and could keep this going?
Probably when we’d released the debut Rainer Maria album and Braid’s “Frame and Canvas” back to back in early 1998. Those bands were such a great fit for us…hard working mentality, constant touring. And people appreciated those attributes. Both bands toured relentlessly and people loved those records!
Q. Which aspect of what you do as a label gets you most excited on any given day?
Two things: 1) helping our bands grow. Whether its a small victory or a huge one, it’s great to help facilitate things that help our bands keep making music. 2) even after all these years, its still so exciting when new records come from the manufacturing plant.
Q. Name 3 Polyvinyl records you’d say are crucial listening for a new fan?
and i’ll also give you three of our all-time most “surprisingly awesome records you may have never heard of”
Q. Why are you looking forward to starting a subscription service for Polyvinyl?
It creates a pipeline directly from us here at PV to folks who want to hear what our bands are doing. No complicated mechanisms, no remembering release dates or searching, just us putting music into the drip and it going directly to our fans.
Wav.Pool: A record club from a group of NYC’s best
The cultural imagination of dance music includes NYC to such a degree that the two are mutually exclusive.
In recent years, NYC has seen the dance music scene grow in myriad directions, perhaps no more strongly than the increased appreciation of the echoes of disco, house, and techno into it’s own perfect blend. Anchored by radio shows like Beats In Space and shepherded by a strong connection of weekly club nights and events like Let’s Play House, the sound continues to thrive.
One of those practitioners, Marcos Cabral, has been at it for sometime. We first met Marcos in NYC back in 2006 at some dank bar and became very keen on his DJ sets. Since then we’ve remained in touch and when we showed him drip.fm, he told us about this idea for a digital record pool, not dissimilar to the classic NYC DJ pools or yore, representing the NYC community.
Q. Soooooo……what is Wav.Pool?
A. Wav.pool is the digital version of the DJ music pools started by David Manucso, Steve D’Aquisto, and Vince Aletti in NYC during the 70’s.
While Mancuso and Co. focused on providing DJ’s with promotional music, Wav.pool also wants to provide that service to the general public.
Q. What NYC labels are included in Wav.Pool.
Q. What makes this better than stealing your music?
A. Along with providing all new releases in the wav. file format on a continuous basis, we will also have magazine/blog-like content. This will include; DJ mixes, videos, interviews, news, discounted event tickets, and other exclusive bonuses.
Q. What do you hope to achieve with Wav.Pool?
A. One stop shopping for NYC electronic dance music. Of course there are many more here in the city, but I think this will be a good start with some sort of virtual meeting place.
Q. What are some key releases from the Wav.Pool family that we’ll be able to see in drip.fm?
- Fantastic Man - It’s Essential - Let’s Play House
- Marcos Cabral - It’s On You (Haunted Club Dub) - Hamilton Dance Records
- Svengalisghost - Deep Into Memory - L.I.E.S.
- Andy Ash - Get Loose - On The Prowl
- DJ Druzz vs. Omega Mus - Apeman (Monty Luke Remix) - Throne Of Blood
We’re excited to launch our first label group and to see what they’ll do with it. Check out Wav.Pool on drip.fm
Luaka Bop: Digging deep, so you don’t have to.
A pivotal force for over 20 years, New York City’s Luaka Bop has remained relevant by doing what it does, releasing music of unique quality, chosen with care and pride.
The lovechild of Yale Evelev and David Byrne, Luaka Bop was hugely responsible in the world music resurgence, and perhaps the most necessary label in the rediscovery of the music of Brazil.
Recent days have found newer signings like Bright Moments, Delicate Steve and Janka Nabay, and the upcoming release of the legendary Tim Maia, adding to a heralded catalog that includes the likes of Tom Zé, Cornershop, Shuggie Otis, and Jim White.
On Drip, Yale comments: “Well we never knew who our customer was and that was fine for a label of our size that is so all artistically over the map. But isn’t it great that the biggest thing in the world created the potential to have this most personal direct relationship. People bemoan the loss of phone calls and letters as in some way loosing some of our humanity. Something like Drip creates a different type but still quite human relationship.”
Pro-Tip!: Four key moments in Luaka Bop history by Yale Evelev:
- David Byrne finding a Tom Zé record in the samba section of a Brazilian record store and buying it because it didn’t look like any other samba album in there.
- Shuggie Otis throwing chairs backstage at Luaka Bop employee Jeff Kaye when 98% of the people walked out of his sold out show at the Fillmore.
- Os Mutantes getting back together after the release of our Best Of.
- Tim Maia’s family agreeing, after 10 years of saying no, to allow us to release a compilation of his 1970’s material in October, 2012.
Introducing…Dead Oceans Sounds
The thought that great music - and the story of the labels who champion it - represents the ideas and ideals of the moment is what inspired the creation of drip.fm.
Dead Oceans is just that kind of label, playing home to a stable of diverse and unique acts such as Bear In Heaven, Yeasayer, Akron/Family, and The Tallest Man On Earth, A Place To Bury Strangers, Gauntlet Hair and the classic Califone.
Dead Oceans is part of a troika of labels of the Secretly Canadian (Jens Lekman, Antony and The Johnsons) brotherhood, along with Jagjaguwar (Bon Iver, Sharon Van Etten). Based in Bloomington, Indiana DO reads as an almanac of independent music’s modern diversity, with sojourns alongside the realms of electronic, folk and straightforward rock.
Phil Waldorf, Dead Oceans co-founder says “We’re excited to offer a subscription service through drip.fm, so that fans of select artists we work with will be introduced to others in the Dead Oceans family with ease. It’s a fantastic platform for discovery, and not all listeners consume in the same way. drip.fm is a new and exciting way for music to reach fans.”
Detroit’s Planet E Select
Founded in Detroit by the legendary Carl Craig in 1991, Planet E Communications has been integral in the launch and development of artists such as Moodymann, Recloose, Kenny Larkin, and numerous others, and also plays home to the many aliases of Carl Craig himself, from 69 to Paperclip People.
An innovator in all respects, Carl and his label have been known for blurring the boundaries between music and technology, and has experimented with the subscription platform in the past, which made for a perfect fit for the classic Detroit label.
On a personal level, our enthusiasm for Planet E is deep. Since the co-founders of Drip.fm grew up in the Detroit suburbs, the music of Planet E has been a consistent influence. Co-Founder Sam Valenti’s first exposure to Carl’s music, apart from hearing the records on late night Detroit radio, was when Carl visited his high school for a live surround sound performance.
Planet E will be seeing more exclusives and classic releases through Planet E Select. Label Manager Monty Luke says, “Drip is fantastic. Carl is really excited about it and what it represents, which is a direct-link to fans of Planet-E. Very much looking forward to pushing the envelope with the service and offering all kinds of exclusive goodies.”
Domino Recording Company > Domino Drip
We’re excited as all get out to welcome Domino Recording Company. Founded
in 1993 by Laurence Bell and Jacqui Rice, the label plays home to
artists like Real Estate, Cass Mccombs, Hot Chip, Franz Ferdinand,
Arctic Monkeys, Max Tundra, The Kills, Dirty Projectors and living
legends like Robert Wyatt.
We first fell in love with Domino as an international conduit for many
of the best bands in the 90s, but it was their creative expansion in
the last 10 years that have blown fans away, bringing on the likes of
Four Tet, Animal Collective and Junior Boys.
Domino Drip (all info here) won’t be limited to just its latest releases. Look out for new, classic and unreleased tracks from their family of labels, too. Double Six (home to John Cale, Spiritualized, Twin Sister), Weird World (How To Dress Well, Peaking Lights, Washed Out), and Ribbon Music (the indomitable John Maus, Lower Dens and Black Dice) will all be pitching in to help Domino Drip keep the best new music playing in your cans.
Kurt Lane, head of all things Digital at Domino says: “We’re really excited about the potential to create a community around the Domino family of labels and we believe that Domino Drip provides the most rewarding way to listen to and digest the music we love.”
Enjoy Domino and support nearly 20 years of independence and progress.
The Gold Mine
Join us in welcoming the newest member of the drip.fm family: Fool’s Gold Records!
The Goldmine serves as a complement to Fool’s Gold’s physical store in Brooklyn. In the Goldmine, members join a community where the perks include bonuses they can’t get in iTunes. Fool’s Gold co-founder Nick Catchdubs explains their drip’s philosophy,
“It’s really about having a relationship with your fans, identifying them and giving them things to be excited about.”
Expect (besides every new Fool’s Gold release) access to Fool’s Gold events, discounts at their online and physical store, back catalog selections, and whatever else Nick and A-Trak dream up. As Nick says,
“I want us to be the good housekeeping seal of approval for this generation. If you see the Fool’s Gold logo on something you know what your in for — even if you don’t necessarily know what it’s about, you know its going to be cool and interesting. ”