Merge Records has been behind some of the independent world’s most popular releases from bands like Spoon, Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, Waxahatchee, and of course, Superchunk since 1989. We hear about the label’s beginnings from co-founder Laura Ballance (Superchunk), and are joined again by MC Taylor of Merge band Hiss Golden Messenger.
Since 2003, Chicago-based independent record label Numero Group has been celebrating the obscure, the rare, and the long-forgotten through their meticulously crafted reissues and compilations. On this episode, we highlight the label with co-founder Ken Shipley and discuss the ways they’ve creatively adapted to major industry changes, always seeming to stay one step ahead of the game. We also hear from Andre Gibson of disco group Universal Togetherness Band. The prolific act was rediscovered over thirty years after their breakup by Numero Group.
One of the most exciting labels in Portland, OR, is also one of its youngest. EYRST Records was founded in 2014 by artist Neill Von Tally and Martell Webster. Since then, the label has filled its roster with promising artists, including acts like The Last Artful, Dodgr and Myke Bogan who have gained national acclaim. We talk with Neill Von Tally and artist Blossom about being part of an indie label and Portland’s local music scene.
2010 was arguably one of the hardest years for the music industry, but that didn’t stop manager and publicist Jessi Frick from starting an independent record label with her father, Ken Hector. Since then, Father/Daughter has released acclaimed albums by Pure Bathing Culture, Diet Cig, Vagabon, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, and more. The label has also gained a reputation for being fiercely artist-friendly. Jessi joins us to talk shop and we hear from Shamir Bailey, who just released ‘Revelations’ through the label.
In 1985, Mark Robinson sent a letter to Ian MacKaye asking about how to press vinyl records. The year earlier, he founded Teen-Beat Records in Arlington, Virginia. Initially, only one copy of each release existed. Now, the label has over 200 releases under its belt and has shaped the D.C. independent music scene alongside MacKaye’s punk label Dischord. Both Mark and Ian join us on this episode to talk Teen-Beat, D.C., and more.
What does it mean when an artist or label calls itself independent? Instead of defining independence as “not major,” this episode discusses what independence in music really means. Portia travels to Australia for an Indie-Con panel with Matthew Rogers (UNFD/WIN Council Member), Sebastian Chase (MGM), Chris Maund (Mushroom Group of Labels), Merida Sussex (Stolen Recordings), and Guy Blackman (Chapter Music). Then, she speaks with A2IM CEO Richard Burgess about his recent Billboard article responding to their definition of “Indie Power Players.”