So, after a good half-life in the creative-person's universe, I went and did a fool-ass thing, with no excuses, no cheeky, childlike enthusiasm to blame, and all better judgment weighed heavily against it—I started a record label ("...a joke, that started the whole world laughing.")
Prison Tatt Records joined the marketplace officially late last week, with its first release available for order; "Calling All Creeps," a single-sided LP by Brooklyn duo Grasshopper. (Ltd. to 100 pcs.; $17 postpaid within the U.S.A.; $21 North America; $25 world. Contact by private message for wholesale/distro pricing.) paypal i.d. firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm proud to say, among other feats, that I hit the street with Grasshopper's first release on vinyl, thanks to my own thoughtful planning,* the poor decision-making of another, once-visionary recording imprint, and most of all the teeming talents of Josh and Jesse, who, upon my initial approach (to release a monophonic live recording of them made on my phone), said, "oh, you like that, well check out THIS!"—and "...Creeps" was born.
There was, in all honesty, some heartfelt, spontaneous, not-so-calculated elements to this move as well. Through my good friend Steven (you may know him as Witchbeam, the visionary/designer, driving human force of the Temple of Pei, or as 1/2 of the electronic music duo Telecult Powers, who also have a Prison Tatt release in the works) I started spending hang time in Brooklyn again after a good 10-year break, meeting musicians, and getting hip to an extremely vibrant and deep musical universe, one that bubbled just under the surface of Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Bushwick's taco-truck matted-coiffure coolness. These were real talents, with amazing innovations to offer, and Steven was my spirit guide on this musical vision quest, and I'm eternally grateful to him for opening that door, and pointing me, ever so gently, like an Albert Hofman of enjoyable sounds.
After several months of listening and observing (and presenting some of these artists live on my WFMU radio program, which had been named after a solo CDr I released in 2007; that name also adorns this blog), my passion extended to a real need to be someone who would bring some of this great music to the public, my original intent being to release on single-sided LP vinyl only (a format I love), though the release schedule now includes some 300-run silver CD titles as well.
Back to the planning* bit, I thought, "what is my personal aesthetic, what am I trying to convey, and who are the artists that will enable me to project this vision effectively, and also sell more than a handful of pieces in the process?" I like things inky, obscured, thought-provoking—I don't ever want to spoon-feed the "message" to anyone. I wanted Prison Tatt Records (the name of which is meant to convey many things btw, including a sizeable lampooning of faux tough-guy, too-cool-for-school hipsterdom so prevalent in underground music, as well as more serious notions, like an enhanced awareness and support of the plight of the American prisoner) to express my tastes in a similar fashion to this blog, and the My Castle of Quiet radio show, but honed down to an even finer point, if that's possible. Horror films, anger and nihilism, notions of self-destruction and despair, and the mind-fuck that is escapism by way of one's most-favored musical sounds, were all on the table.
And so, a long story made relatively short, Grasshopper seemed the natural choice to help bring Prison Tatt Records' initial blast to the world. They brought the scary, the enveloping darkness, but they also had a healthy sense of humor about themselves and their art, and seemed to make no uncertainty that their aim (one of them, at least) was to create choice head-music, trance you out, take you away, and maybe even screw with your notions of aesthetics and general music-scene propriety a little bit in the process.
Other artists with whom I've made verbal or written commitments, and who probably won't mind my leaking the info that Prison Tatt releases loom in their future, include T.O.M.B., Telecult Powers, OPPONENTS, KILT, and Husere Grav. There are other releases in the works as well, but I'm too superstitious to even breathe the names at this point.