Newsflash: It’s not easy being in a band, and it’s not easy running a record label in 2014. Some of the more gutsy (also more passionate, more determined) New Yorkers among us take on both — the ultimate hustle. Here’s a look at who’s doing it best and the record labels they’ve spawned.
When James Murphy spoke-sang, “Yeah, I’m losing my edge” in the debut single for then-underground NYC dance band LCD Soundsystem, a small corner of the world changed forever. It started in the clubs but quickly spread across the globe, helped in no small part by the parallel growth of his label DFA Records — which excelled at producing similarly disaffected, danceable (and distinctly electronic) singles. Co-founded with Jonathan Galkin and producer Tim Goldsworthy, DFA became the little label that could, releasing dozens of influential artists from the likes of Hercules & Love Affair and The Juan MacLean all the way to Eric Copeland.
Without much fanfare over the last three years, Parquet Courts‘ Andrew Savage and Future Punx‘ Chris Pickering have been churning out a steady stream of locally sourced LPs, 7”s and cassettes under the Dull Tools umbrella. Bands like Eaters, Yuppies, Beth Israel and PC Worship use Savage’s and Pickering’s own DT outputs as signposts — Denton After Sunset from Savage’s former band Teenage Cool Kids, Brooklyn’s collective favorite Light Up Gold by Parquet Courts (it’s since been reissued on What’s Your Rupture?), and Future Punx’ debut 7” — falling somewhere on the wavelength of fumbling folk-pop, slurred punk, and cheeky post-punk. It’s all quite fun.
Orchid Tapes was originally an invention of necessity: musician Warren Hildebrand was looking to release an album for his own band, Foxes in Fiction, and made up his own label to get it done. Named for a Deerhunter song that he admired — “Tape Hiss Orchid” — the label became a surprise vehicle of success when Hildebrand’s record exploded on the Internet, even scoring a front-page review on Pitchfork. It wasn’t long after that he began connecting with other musicians via his Myspace page and started releasing their records as well. “It felt good meeting a group of other sad weirdos that recorded music from home that I felt like I genuinely connected with,” he told Caterwaul magazine in an interview.
Operating out of a slick-but-modest storefront in Williamsburg, Fool’s Gold is small — founded and run by DJs A-Track and Nick Catchdubs — but mighty. In it’s almost decade-long lifespan, it’s introduced us to Big Deal artists like Kid Cudi and Duck Sauce, not to mention releasing a string of albums from the likes of Danny Brown and Kid Sister.