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Behind the Scene Features Interviews

Introducing Blues Funeral Recordings and PostWax: An Interview With Jadd Shickler

We’re stoked to be the first band out on Blues Funeral. Jadd is super dedicated, and we thoroughly feel that he understands what we are and what we want to do. And we are really looking forward to our contribution to the PostWax series next year. That will be something very special for sure, and Jadd had a lot to do with how cool it turned out. – Martin W, Domkraft
We are honored to be working with Blues Funeral Recordings and to be included on their upcoming PostWax series. Jadd’s commitment to highlighting diversity in the heavy music genres immediately felt right for our release. DAXMA’s music draws on the innovations of many terrific artists who preceeded us, but we also feel our own sound isn’t easily pigeonholed into a single musical genre. What is great about working with Jadd is he really supports and encourages the musicians he works with to be the musicians they want to be.
Vinyl has always been a special way to collect and listen to music.  The vinyl Jadd has pressed with MER is absolutely gorgeous and we look forward to all the releases in the PostWax series! Our thanks to both you (Clayton) and Jadd for being such huge supporters of DAXMA, and we cannot wait to share our next musical chapter with everyone! – Daxma
Elder has always worked on a large scale making double LPs (with the exception of one EP, also a special release) so when we were asked to do something completely out of the box, we were interested off the bat. We’ll be taking a different approach for our release, hoping to capture an energy that we haven’t used in our recordings before. This material will certainly be different than anything fans have heard from Elder! – Nick DiSalvo, Elder
Jadd and I have known each other since… 1997 I think. I remember sending that first Lowrider demo to the then unestablished MeteorCity, not hoping for much. After all, it was for a compilation that would feature some of the people that made me first pick up a guitar. Since that day that Jadd replied, and said we were on the compilation, and that our track “Texas pt 1 & 2” pretty much blew him away – we’ve been tight. We have stayed that way over the years, and when we started playing with Lowrider again a couple of years back, the discussions about future collaborations kicked off. Jadd had this dream of a new label, and even more so a dream of reinventing the record and how one could work with it. A gazillion emails, texts and face time calls later we chiseled the outlines for what would become Blues Funeral Recordings and the heavily curated subscription service PostWax, where we collaborate to bring people the music and artwork WE would be blown away by ourselves. Almost 2 years later, we are soon ready to unveil PostWax and Blues Funeral Recordings to the world, and I for one can’t fucking WAIT. There’s so much exciting stuff baked into this thing, I can’t wait to tell people. – Peder, Songwriter/singer/bassist of Lowrider & Creative for PostWax/Blues Funeral Recordings

As our loyal Vault Hunters are likely aware, this is the place where I’d ordinarily write some kind of lengthy intro that orients readers to the subject of the interview that will follow. However, the interview that follows does such a thorough job of that in and of itself that I feel like anything I’d say here would be superfluous. Who Jadd is, how I know Jadd, what Jadd’s up to these days…it’s all covered in the interview that follows. So I’m going to limit my prefatory comments here to…just the facts, ma’am.

You can find Blues Funeral Recordings on Facebook here, and online here.

PostWax doesn’t have a Facebook page of its own, but can be found at the Blues Funeral website.

Blues Funeral’s first release, Domkraft’s sophomore album Flood, will be available on October 19, and can be preordered here.

And without any further ado…here’s my conversation with Jadd.

Indy Metal Vault: Hey, dude – thanks for the interview. So I’m thinking it was roughly a year ago when our virtual paths first crossed when you sent me the promo for Daxma’s The Head Which Becomes the Skull. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history. It seems like you’ve been kinda busy since then – working with Magnetic Eye Records, writing some of the most attention-grabbing PR emails in the game with Red Lead Media, and now you’re set to launch your own label, Blues Funeral Recordings, and a subscription-based vinyl series called PostWax. I’m tempted to start off here by asking whether your wife remembers what you look like at this point, but I’ll resist. Instead, let me start by asking this: Blues Funeral isn’t your first label. You co-founded MeteorCity in 1998 and ran that for a decade before selling it. Then at some point you turned into Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part III– just when you thought you were out…they pull you back in. What made you decide you wanted to put yourself through the whole running a label thing again?

Jadd Shickler: First off, let me quickly say thanks for talking to me, and thanks also for that recap. It feels satisfying that what got me here takes more than one sentence to sum up.  And let me also say that my wife is incredibly understanding and supportive.

Look, here’s the thing:  I LOVED running MeteorCity.  Putting out music I believed in, being an entrepreneur, having the freedom to follow my instincts and make artistic and business decisions based on my own experience and gut… hell yes to all of that.  But what got mentally exhausting after nine years was feeling like I wasn’t doing enough.

Along the way, I somehow got the idea that it was my responsibility to make these bands…maybe not famous, but to expose them to the majority of the heavy-music listening world.  It got to the point where not being able to make Solace or The Atomic Bitchwax as well-known as ISIS or Mastodon or The Sword felt like I was letting them down. And I was carrying that around like a weight during the last year or two running MeteorCity.  So when the chance to sell presented itself, it was like, hey, I can walk away debt-free and someone new who gets the music will be coming to this with fresh enthusiasm, that’s gotta be a good thing for everyone, right?  I figured the bands would benefit, and there was an appeal to being able to stop beating myself up over not making Wino and Solace and Bitchwax and Blind Dog into rock-stars.

I went through with the sale and got out, and immediately there was this unexpectedly huge void in my sense of who I was.  I mean, I started MeteorCity with my best friend at the age of 23, right out of college, and it was there through my 20s and into my 30s. But suddenly I was 33 and no longer the head of a record label, no longer in the music business, no longer connected to this huge scene and community around the world.  So who was I? It was bizarre, a completely blindsiding hit to my sense of identity.

So I kind of casted around for a while, trying to decide what else I might want to do, but these business ideas and the entrepreneurial yearning was always there, I just didn’t know how to hear what it was telling me.  All I knew was that something was missing and I didn’t know what it was.

Anyway, trying to condense this down, I met my wife during this period, and a couple years in she discovered this really interesting music-social startup in Seattle called Rockstar Motel.  We were living in Albuquerque, and I was in the process of solidifying my total lack of interest in a future in corporate hospitality management.  After putting the nail in that coffin, I just asked her if she wanted to give Seattle a try. I’d had Seattle in my heart for ages, by the way:  Grunge broke while I was in high school and Alice in Chains and Soundgarden had always been major touchstone bands for me, plus I’d visited Seattle at least eight times over the years, both to see close friends and for music reasons, like my first band recording an album with Jack Endino up there. So my wife and I pretty much went, hell, why not?  And picked up and moved to Seattle with just what we could fit in the car.  I sent two bags of gourmet coffee and a dozen cupcakes with famous rock band logos printed in sugar to that music startup to introduce myself, and then showed up at their offices once we’d gotten settled in Seattle, and offered myself up as someone with ten years of music biz experience who wanted to get involved with what they were doing.

Ultimately, that startup didn’t really go anywhere. Their concept was a bit uncertain and they kept pivoting in new directions and getting further and further from what I thought was cool about them in the first place.  So eventually I bowed out, but not after starting to reach back out and make contact again with some of my music biz connections.

Being in Seattle energized the part of me that wanted to feel connected to the music world again. I hung out with Endino a few times, discovered some new bands, met with Megan from Sub-Pop and the guy who runs the Good to Die label, and basically just started putting it out to the universe that I was up for reconnecting with music as more than just a fan.

I started doing some blog writing for The Ripple Effect, and that was what really re-connected me with the stoner rock scene. I kept at it even after my wife and I ended up moving back to Albuquerque to handle some personal and family stuff.  Ultimately, the writing got me in touch with Magnetic Eye Records when I heard Elephant Tree’s debut album and was so floored by it that I wanted to cover them.  The label’s owner Mike figured out who I was and the MeteorCity connection, and pretty much just invited me to jump in and join up with him to see if I could help in whatever ways my own experience overlapped with Magnetic Eye’s needs… and it turned out there were a lot of ways for me to contribute.

So… yeah, that was a much longer answer than I’m sure you wanted, but I guess the point of all that as it relates to your question is, my love for the music and my entrepreneurial impulse never went away. And working with Magnetic Eye allowed me to rediscover how much I loved being part of this worldwide scene that I’ve been in and around really since it started.

IMV: There is a sort of…appropriateness? cosmic harmony? kismet? in starting a new label 20 years after your first attempt. Aside from the nice, round numbers, though, why did you feel like 2018 was the right time to give it another try?

JS: Well, okay, I actually had the beginnings of the idea for PostWax, the subscription series, in mid to late 2015.  It took a while to kind of simmer in my brain, and then really started to turn into something in 2016 when I was talking through it with Peder Bergstrand, who some folks may recognize as the voice and bass behind first-wave Swedish stoner rock band Lowrider. Peder is a world-class designer and video creator, and bouncing stuff around with him helped the PostWax idea coalesce into something real.  But we didn’t want to rush it.  And while we were trying not to rush it, I got on board with Magnetic Eye, and for a while that helped satisfy the creative urge and entrepreneurial outlet.

So there I am, working for Magnetic Eye, PostWax is supposedly in the works but moving extremely slowly, and then this past March a band whose name I won’t say approaches me and basically goes, “Hey, we’re ready to do our new album and don’t really like the offers we’ve gotten from these labels, do you want to put out our record?”

So I thought, hmm…I wonder how easy it would be, knowing what I know and having the connections I have, to pull together a new label to do this record with these guys. And as I thought about that, I realized this year is the 20-year anniversary of the Welcome to MeteorCity compilation, the first thing my first label ever did, so it felt like there was kind of a cosmic lining-up of things that made the timing right to do my own thing again.

I spent a couple days and had a couple conversations and basically came up with Blues Funeral Recordings to do this band’s record. I leveraged contacts that went back to the early 2000s with MeteorCity and others that were brand new, but I basically got things set up for distribution in North America, the UK, Sweden, and a solid prospect for Germany and the rest of Europe, got an account set up with a CD and vinyl manufacturer, all with no catalog and no sales history other than my name and track record of other stuff I’d done.  I spent a few weeks doing all this logistical stuff including the contract work, some preliminary copywriting, buying the domain name, getting incorporated, everything to put the new label in a great position to launch, and I was feeling really optimistic and ready…

And at the last minute, the band dropped out. Okay, well, they didn’t drop out exactly, but they got an offer from another label four days before they were set to go into the studio. Four days! We’d been through weeks of contract discussions and were basically done, and then suddenly they told me that if I wanted to match this new offer, I could, otherwise they wanted to go with the other label.

So number one, it was a great offer and even if I did try to match it, I would’ve been putting myself in a really risky financial position before the new label was even off the ground.  And number two, the whole thing just felt crummy. I don’t think they were trying to be shady or dishonest, but the idea that they were the ones who came to me with the project and then would even look at an offer from another label just days before going into the studio was just off-putting.  My Dad summed it up perfectly – he asked me how I was ever supposed to trust anything else they said, and he had a point.

So I walked away from that. By then it was late April and I went, look what I’ve been able to do, pulling together all these connections and pieces to launch a new label, and I don’t have a record to put out!  But I figured out pretty quickly what made sense to do instead.

IMV: Before we move into talking about the new ventures, though, let’s talk about MeteorCity for a second. Some of our readers may not be aware, but you were a pretty notable figure in stoner/doom circles back when the Internet was in its infancy, streaming wasn’t really a thing, and labels played a much larger role in the discovery and dissemination of music from newer bands. Can you give those unfamiliar with the label a sense of who MeteorCity was and the sorts of bands you worked with?

JS: MeteorCity basically came about in late 1997 and early 1998. It was a label run by me and my best friend, and we put out music based around our love of Kyuss and other heavy bands that kind of hit a similar vibe… massive, chunky riffs, the spaciousness, the swing and the grooves. Well, actually, first we started an online store called All That’s Heavy that focused purely on finding and selling music that would appeal to people who loved Kyuss.  Then we started our own label to put out even more of it in conjunction with running the All That’s Heavy store.

The name MeteorCity came from this huge meteor crater that’s about five hours west of Albuquerque, just off the interstate in the Arizona desert. I always loved the name and thought it sounded cosmic and huge and conjured this sense of a distant, futuristic place.

Our first release was a compilation of bands called Welcome to MeteorCity, where we introduced bands like The Atomic Bitchwax, Dozer, Lowrider, Sixty Watt Shaman, Los Natas, sHeavy, Fatso Jetson, Celestial Season… we weren’t the first label to release every band on that comp, but with the name and the artwork being an obvious nod to Kyuss’ Welcome to Sky Valley, not to mention the sonic thread connecting a lot of the music on there, we were making a pretty clear statement of what we were about.

Then our next release was a pair of EPs as a split release between Nebula, which had three ex-members of Fu Manchu, and Lowrider, who we basically felt was the best band we’d come across during the submission process for the comp.  That Nebula/Lowrider double EP just blew people’s minds, and really set this standard for the quality of everything we’d do.  And then we followed with another split, this one the first EP from Swedish band Dozer along with the first EP from Unida, the new band from John Garcia of Kyuss.  That pretty much clinched our instant reputation at a time when labels like Rise Above, Southern Lord, and Tee Pee were all getting started, we were right there with them.

So yeah, we got a lot of momentum fast and early. And remember, there was an Internet, but there was no streaming, no download stores, pre-torrent, pre-Napster even. When we started, there were CDs and records and people figuring out how to search for stuff online…and people who went looking for Kyuss pretty quickly found us.

As our tastes expanded, we got away from the Kyuss-worship, and were able to sign amazing bands like Solace, Blind Dog, The Mushroom River Band, we even did the first worldwide release from Truckfighters, who went on to be one of the biggest stoner-fuzz bands to come out of Sweden. And The Atomic Bitchwax, of course, who really are kind of an institution at this point, we did three records from them. I managed to get Wino from The Obsessed to do a record with us from his new band Spirit Caravan, the funny part being that I didn’t even know The Obsessed at all back then. I wasn’t a doom guy, I was a Kyuss guy, but a great dude name Mike Knecht from a little D.C. area label called Game Two Records said something to me about Wino that just made me go after him, and we got this fantastic Spirit Caravan EP and went on to have a very solid relationship. MeteorCity ended up doing releases from three of his bands, including a re-issue of The Obsessed’s Lunar Womb.

Basically, we came into being right when both stoner rock and connecting on the Internet were becoming things, if that makes sense.  I’m just old enough that I have a clear memory of starting to use the Internet in 1996 and 97, and that’s when the ability to find and connect with people in different countries over something as eclectic as a band like Kyuss created the ability to launch a community and a business no matter where you were, because it didn’t rely on location. Pretty much right from the time we were getting started with All That’s Heavy and MeteorCity, people were figuring out that hey, there were A LOT of people who were bummed as hell when Kyuss broke up, and a lot of others who were inspired to go form bands of their own.  And we became pretty much the first place for a ton of them to find this communal place to converge.  So I was the right age at the right time figuring out the right technology and a fan of the right band for everything to come together.

IMV: You’re not the first label owner I’ve talked to, and you’re not even the first one I’ve talked to who’s launched a second label (that would be Rachel of Graven Earth and Rapid Fire Records). However you are the first who launched a second label with the benefit of 20 years’ worth of hindsight, so instead of asking a variation of the ‘what do you know now that you wish you’d known back then?’ question, I can ask you straight-up: what sorts of lessons are you bringing forward from your time doing MeteorCity—and, for that matter, working with Magnetic Eye for the last couple of years—and applying as you’ve prepared for Blues Funeral’s launch?

JS: Well, the first one goes back to what I was saying about the self-inflicted guilt I already mentioned… now that I have some perspective, I see how ludicrous it was for me to put all of that on myself.  I mean, when MeteorCity started, there were two of us, and after about six years, my partner bowed out and then it was just me. Where did I get the ridiculous idea that these bands’ careers and success were all on me, and that I was somehow failing them if fame and fortune didn’t fall in their laps? It’s like I had assigned myself all the duties of a major label, which have hundreds of staff members and still usually fail to turn bands into rock stars, except I had none of their resources or money.  So yeah, it took a couple of years away from the industry to realize how stupid that was.  Now I can approach things with an entirely different point of view, that I’m just going to utilize what I know and the resources I’ve got to help share this music with as many people as possible, period.  I’m going to be more careful about planning, keeping an eye on costs, margins, that sort of thing, but mainly I’m not going to beat myself up if a band fails to become the next Royal Blood or Queens of the Stone Age on my watch.

I’m also never going to put out anything again based on the belief that it might sell. Let me tell you, I learned that lesson during the MeteorCity years, and I’m a little embarrassed that it took like four tries before I really learned it thoroughly. Adding on to what I said earlier about coming back to working for and running record labels again, that’s one great thing that I have to help me this time around…I was able to try a bunch of stuff with MeteorCity and screw up numerous times, then get out and regroup to eventually try again, this time having that experience to reflect on.

So yeah, it was a real game-changer to figure out that my instinct for quality music was actually a much better measure of what was good for the label than any expectation of a record’s sales potential.

Think of it like this:  when I reflect on the best decisions I made with MeteorCity, number one on the list is always working with Solace. Now, I never made a profit on the records I put out with Solace. I spent way more on that band than I ever made, but decades later, if I’m gonna go back and listen to something I put out, chances are about one in three that I’m gonna listen to Solace. In comparison, putting out stuff like Orquesta del Desierto or the Hermano record, I was looking at the musicians involved and thinking, “people will see this lineup and want to get this,” and I put those records out based on that argument, not because I loved the music. No big surprise, Orquesta del Desierto and even Hermano underperformed sales-wise, and on top of that, I’m personally not going back and listening to those records.  They weren’t bad, I’m not slamming them in terms of being well-written or well-done, I’m slamming myself for not sticking to a philosophy of only putting out records that personally move me, and instead letting myself be persuaded by other factors. There will be no more making choices like that!

I probably have more solid lessons I could share, but I’d eventually like to talk about the present and future of what we’re doing, haha.

IMV: And I swear I’m going to ask a direct question about Blues Funeral eventually, but PostWax sounds waaaay too fucking cool to not ask about it first. The short version is that you’re doing a monthly vinyl subscription service. Give me (and our readers) the long version – what’s your sales pitch? Why would I want to sign up for it? Are you going to do digital releases of the material as well?

JS: Okay, well, going back to talking about Blues Funeral coming into existence this year, it all connects.  There I was, newly formed label structure in place, complete with distribution and a sweet logo courtesy of Peder, but no releases planned.  But then I thought, why not make PostWax the main offering of Blues Funeral?

I came up with the idea for PostWax as I said, back in 2015. I was thinking about music discovery, and mix tapes, and collectibles, and I had this idea for a series of releases that all fit a certain musical aesthetic.  I was honestly thinking of myself, like wouldn’t it be cool if there was something where I could sign up and just sit back and wait to have records from a bunch of killer heavy bands delivered right to me, I would totally sign up for something like that. And I was a comic collector for a good chunk of my life, so I was imagining deluxe, high-end collectible packaging that kind of brought all the records in the series together so it would feel like a cohesive volume of music even if the bands didn’t have any real connection…

So last April when I was figuring out what to do with Blues Funeral, my brain went back to PostWax, and I figured, everything I just set up for Blues Funeral, all this infrastructure, I was gonna need for PostWax anyway.  So it was a simple decision to fold PostWax in under the Blues Funeral label and have it be the main thing the new label would be responsible for. With that decision made, Peder and I buckled down and started trying to nail down a lot of what we’d been working on for PostWax but with more urgency.

What we laid out is that PostWax is a series of releases on 12-inch LP, with exclusive subscriber editions featuring mind-blowing art and next-level design available only to subscribers. Down the road, we’ll offer digital versions and more standard versions for the retail market, but the subscriber editions are like nothing else out there, and they’re only available as part of the annual subscription.

So PostWax records are cool, stand-alone releases that exist outside a band’s normal album cycle, because they’ll almost always be from bands we aren’t signing.  They’re special one-offs that are basically whatever the bands want to do, because we’re just inviting amazing bands and giving them the freedom to go in whatever direction they want. So it’ll be crazy experiments, updated versions of old songs, unexpected collaborations, weird covers, and who knows what else, just these crazy and cool little packages from some bands you might know and love and other bands you’ll be discovering for the first time.

For the first year, 2019, we’ve got confirmed PostWax releases coming from Elder, Spotlights, Daxma, Besvärjelsen, Lowrider, and Domkraft with a cameo from Mark Lanegan, plus one more band left to confirm.  And when I said mind-blowing art, by the way, I’m talking about hand-crafted art pieces from insane visual artists that will accompany each record, not to mention the most sophisticated packaging design you can imagine for record sleeves. We definitely leveraged Peder’s design experience and my comic-collecting background for what we’re doing here.

For anyone who’s been listening and collecting long enough, one somewhat relevant touchstone would be the Sub-Pop Singles Club, where you get these exclusive outings from cool bands. Another are the old Man’s Ruin Records releases, back when they put out a string of unbelievable stuff on these limited collectible 10-inches like Fu Manchu, The Heads, Entombed, Nebula, Orange Goblin, Acid King, Electric Wizard, Church of Misery, Dozer, but then you’d get an oddball like Hangnail and it was just as killer as the rest even though they didn’t have the name recognition.

What’s different here is the taste and curation. I love the idea of someone whose musical instincts and judgement I trust inviting me to subscribe to a series of releases from bands he or she will handpick. And having them delivered to me in an exclusive format, it’s a no-brainer.  I mean, I’m the target market for PostWax. The chance to sign up and get a year’s worth of new records that includes brand new stuff from Elder, Lowrider and Spotlights, plus getting turned on to new bands like Daxma and Besvärjelsen?  I wouldn’t hesitate. And Mark Lanegan? Are you kidding me? If I weren’t putting this out myself, I’d be signing up to get it. It’s gonna be epic.

IMV: I’m guessing the name Blues Funeral was inspired by the Mark Lanegan album of the same name. How would you say that choice of name reflects the aesthetic of the label? I’ve seen the list of bands you’re working with, and it doesn’t exactly seem like you’re going to be specializing in stoned sadboi jams.

JS: Well, here’s the thing: I’m the first to admit that I’m not always great at naming things. And you’ll recall at the time I had like three days to give the band-that-won’t-be-named an answer as to whether I’d put out their record, so I had to come up with something fast.

Lanegan is pretty much my favorite singer, and five and a half years ago I was listening to his Blues Funeralalbum every morning at 5:30am on the way to my job as a food and beverage manager at the Hyatt. It was this little bit of hope and inspiration before starting my 10-hour daily slog. Matter of fact, the year that album came out is the year I walked out on that industry for good, which is a nice way to remember 2012, haha.

So yeah, I had a few different names in mind for this new label, but there’s something about Lanegan…he transcends, you know? Fans of stoner rock dig him, fans of asphyxiating doom dig him, but so do fans of Neko Case and Gregory Isakov. So using the name of my favorite Lanegan album just felt like a great way to communicate that sense of transcendence in a subtle way. I don’t expect people to read that much into it, though, and honestly, you can gather most of what you need to know about what Blues Funeral will do by looking at my track record with MeteorCity and Magnetic Eye, you know?

IMV: Blues Funeral’s first release is going to be Swedish psychedelic sludge trio Domkraft’s second album Flood, which will be out on October 19. As you know, I’m mostly a black metal dude. However, I really dig this record – it reminds me a bit of a Kylesa, who I’ve always loved and sorely miss. How did you end up deciding to make that your first release?

JS: It’s an unbelievable record, and a killer way to come out of the gate, right?  So yeah, when I was figuring out that Blues Funeral would put out the PostWax series, Domkraft let me know that they’d be ready to deliver their new album soon under their contract with Magnetic Eye. At that time, Magnetic Eye had two main concerns we were focusing on for the rest of 2018: The Wall [Redux],our big Pink Floyd homage project featuring The Melvins, Pallbearer, ASG, etc., and a merger discussion with digital creative agency Overit. As soon as I heard from Domkraft, I knew it would be next to impossible to divert the resources needed to get their new album out before the end of the year, but I also didn’t want them to get stuck waiting because these guys are absolutely phenomenal. They’re everything I love about dark, groovy, elliptical doom. Being that they were the first band I really worked closely with since joining MER, I thought I could solve the problem by just offering to put out their record on Blues Funeral, which would let them stick to their plan to get it out this year, and let Magnetic Eye get through all the hoops of the merger and the release of The Wall [Redux].  I had no doubt that I’d love the record, that wasn’t even a question, and MER’s owner Mike was all for it. The fact that the album is absolutely crushing made it feel almost pre-ordained. There literally couldn’t have been a better way to get Blues Funeral launched this year, which set us up perfectly for PostWax to follow next.

IMV: You already touched on this a bit, but Domkraft’s first full-length was released by Magnetic Eye Records. Does that mean that Blues Funeral and MER are working together, or have you decided to burn that bridge and openly poach bands from Mike? I’m kidding – I sincerely doubt you’d be trying to steal bands from Mike.

JS: Is this off the record?  Just kidding, Mike!  But seriously…

I do a lot with Magnetic Eye, and that’s continuing as we ramp up to the Floyd project coming out, plus some great new bands in 2019. I guess the simplest way to say it is that my work with Magnetic Eye in the last couple of years and all the responsibilities I’ve taken on did a lot to inspire me and put me in the right headspace for the leap to launch Blues Funeral. So there’s definitely a symbiosis there, but Blues Funeral will also be its own entity doing its own things.

Plus, while I love a lot of the bands on Magnetic Eye and that’s part of what drew Mike and I to meet in the first place, the roster of MER definitely reflects Mike’s tastes and his aesthetic and musical worldview. He isn’t completely comfortable being the public personality associated with the label, but he should be because it’s his unique sensibility that makes Magnetic Eye’s roster interesting and distinct from labels that focus too specifically on just one sound or genre.

Honestly, I find it extremely cool and interesting to see how the personality of the individual behind the label is reflected in its output. Like when you look at Steve from STB and what he puts out, or Todd from Ripple Music, in a way you kind of get to know these guys through the lens of the music they release. Running a label is kind of an ego-driven prospect, because YOU want to release the music that YOU feel the world needs to hear, and honestly, my ego is at the point where it’s ready for me to indulge it the same way again, haha.

IMV: To kind of bring it back around to where we started, I assume that you still intend to keep Red Lead Media going while doing Blues Funeral and PostWax.  Do you have an inside source in terms of adding extra hours to the day? Because if you do, I’m going to be slightly irked that you didn’t hook me up too…

JS: Man, I am constantly doing so much and constantly fighting for time. I actually resigned this past summer from my soul-sucking day job, after my boss and I butted heads over the fact that she didn’t feel I was emotionally invested in her business. And you know what?  She was basically right. I wasn’t. I wanted to do my job well, but I had no interest in working extra hours or putting in time or energy beyond the regular workday, because I had no connection to that business or industry… it was just a job.

So I’m still handling label operations for Magnetic Eye, I’ve just gotten on board with Ripple Music as Project Manager, and I’m getting started doing some work with Overit, the digital agency that merged with Magnetic Eye, plus my Red Lead press work, plus launching Blues Funeral and PostWax. Oh, and I’m also taking a brewing class, because you know, I have all this free time. I even recently had a great band ask me to manage them, and I’m trying to figure out how I can help them, too. I don’t have a good answer about how to prioritize time or squeeze more hours out of the day…I get up early, stay up late, and I’m trying to choose work based on what I think I can do well that lines up with my interests and gets me excited.  As long as I don’t collapse and my wife stays busy enough with her own stuff to not hold all these commitments against me, I’m optimistic, haha.

IMV: Okay…thanks again for being willing to answer a few questions. I like to leave the final word to my interviewees – anything else you want to add?

JS: Well, first I’ll put this out there because I’m looking for ideas: Blues Funeral will be donating a portion of our profits, assuming there are profits, to support youth music education. I had this idea years ago when I first started thinking about PostWax, that it would be great to do something socially conscious related to music. Basically, between educational budget cuts, music-creation technology, and social media, my sense is that kids just aren’t learning to play and write real music on real instruments today the way they used to. My difficulty so far has been figuring out the best recipient for donations like this.  In other words, who out there is helping address this problem that I should be giving money to? If anyone has any recommendations, I’d love to learn about them, whether they’re national organizations or local ones. I just think it’s hard to figure out where to send financial support that you know will help and make a difference. So any ideas, send them my way at [email protected]

And second, I’ll just say that I’m really appreciative to be in the position that I’m in, where I get to work with great people putting out killer music to a really receptive community of fans. I can’t wait to keep pushing Magnetic Eye reach new heights, I can’t wait to get involved in a serious way with a powerhouse like Ripple Music, and of course I’m beyond impatient to see PostWax actually materialize and deliver on how amazing it’s going to be. And I’m indescribably grateful that I get to do all this.

Thanks again for the interview, Clayton. Maybe next time you can give me a little room to actually talk about some stuff, though, huh?

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