Need To Know: Sacred Bones

Photos by Austin McAllister
Photos by Austin McAllister

Need To Know is a  series spotlighting Brooklyn-based record labels. Today we meet Sacred Bones, founded by Caleb Braaten.

Seven years ago, Caleb Braaten founded Sacred Bones in response to some friends who wanted to put out a record. “My friends had a record they wanted to put out, they didn’t know where to do it and I thought, ‘I could probably figure that out,'” he explains. 140-or-so releases later, the rest is history. Since that first 7″, Sacred Bones has gone on to make a formidable name for themselves, releasing (and re-issuing) some of the best in punk, experimental noise, synth-heavy power ballads, and much, much more. They’ve also expanded from a side gig operating out of a record store basement to a warehouse in northern Greenpoint, where the small, but dedicated team work, surrounded by piles and piles of vinyl. (Not to mention at least one crystal ball.)

Yesterday, we stopped by their office to talk records, Guns’N’Roses, and to get a glimpse behind the curtain. More after the jump.


Year Originated: 2007

Number of Releases So Far: I guess we are closing in on 140 or so? Crazy.




What’s Sacred Bones origin story? It seems to have grown from cult famous to one of the defining labels of the city in such a short amount of time. 

That’s very nice of you to say, thanks! The label’s beginnings are quite modest. It started out of the basement of Academy Records.  My friends had a record they wanted to put out, they didn’t know where to do it and I thought, “I could probably figure that out.” I had a lot of help from my friends to figure it out. From there I just kept finding new music that would blow my mind. There were/are just so many talented people out there making amazing music. So the releases just piled up and amazing opportunities kept presenting themselves.  Pushing ourselves as hard as we can and working with artists who share a similar work ethic is, in my opinion, the reason we have been able to achieve any sort of success.

Aesthetic consideration seems to play a huge part in your work — the cover art/design of each record are considered, thoughtful, and consistent. What was your thinking behind that? Does one person design them all? 

David Correll is the head of Sacred Bones Design. He’s been on board since the very first record. He and I work together on general concepts but he’s the one that makes it all come to life.


You’ve released great new music, but also uncovered/reissued incredible old records. What’s your process for discovering music? 

The best way I’ve found to discover music is word of mouth. Going to record stores, getting recommendations for the staff, etc. We are always talking about music whether we are “at work” or not. So we are always interested in hearing new things, whether they are old or new.

Things are changing in the industry these days, but Sacred Bones seems to have persevered, if not thrived. Any particular advice to give other fledgling indie labels? 

If you don’t love doing it, don’t do it. It’s a hard business.


Upcoming releases we should look out for? 

We always have a lot of things in the works. We are extremely excited about the newest LPs from Cult of Youth and Pharmakon. We are also releasing the debut EP for this amazing punk band from Austin called Institute. All three of those records will be out this fall. Keep your ears peeled.

Any new music recs (in general)? 

We’ve been listening to Guns N’ Roses Appetite For Destruction a lot. It’s pretty much a perfect record.




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