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Monday, April 7, 2014

These Go to 11: interviewing February Records

Been meaning to post this one for days and finally here it is. For our next interview we go back to a record label. But a unique one, due to the good taste, being responsible of making me discover a bunch of great bands, like my beloved The Swapsies, The Pretty Greens or Caténine among others. And because its run by two of the nicest folks I've been lucky to meet (virtually to this date, would love to solve that soon). Ladies and gentlemen, a very special pleasure to introduce you the answers of Dan & Kristin, the bosses at February Records. These Go to 11!

Kristin Gill & Dan Goodwin, February Records
Dan & Kristin, indiepop all year 'round
Created as Tweefort Productions in late 2008, initially as a live music booking and promotions project in New Haven, CT, with their first show arriving in March 2009 and releasing first CD-R compilation albums afterwards. The focus of the project quickly shifted from booking shows to releasing music, so they changed their name to February Records in May 2010, with the label putting out its first original recordings few months later. February Records has hosted three Elm City PopFest in New Haven in 2009-2011 and 37 releases to this day, primarily online-only, from bands all around the world with a DIY ethic and a clear goal: offering amazing indiepop tunes, in all their styles. The micro-label is run by founder, label manager and creative director Dan Goodwin, who operates from Boston, and Kristin Gill, primary artist liaison and contact person, who recently moved to gorgeous Stockholm. Here we go!
The "other" Swedish pop

1. First record that you bought (be honest)
Dan Goodwin: I think the first music that I bought with my own money was a cassette single of Ace of Base's "I Saw The Sign." I loved that song so much when it came out. I guess it foreshadowed my love of Swedish pop music.
Kristin Gill: The first album I bought was The Wallflower's Bringing Down the Horse. I loved that song One Headlight, though I can't say I really remember anything else from that record.

2. First and last concert you have attended (be honest too!)
D: I believe the first concert I attended was a Christian rock band called Newsboys with a church youth group when I was in middle school. I'm not ashamed to say I thought they were awesome at the time. The last proper concert I went to was Elvis Costello at the University of Connecticut in November 2013. The last DIY show I went to was Eastern Phoebes, Pier Jump and some other bands at a very cool DIY space in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, called Machines with Magnets, in January 2014.
K: I suppose the first show I ever went to was something my friends organized at the local VFW. However, if we're talking about actual concerts, I'll have to go with seeing Howie Day when I was 14 or something. The last gig I went to was the Eastern Phoebes and Pier Jump show with Danny in Rhode Island back in January.

Taylor Swift, country pop?
3. Guilty pleasure (song/band you shouldn’t like but you do, yes, it’s the embarrassing question)
D: I'm not ashamed to admit that I own more than one Neil Diamond record.
K: This was tough as I'm not embarrassed about anything that I like. I'm really not ashamed at all to admit I like Taylor Swift. I don't own any of her albums, but I'm certainly not afraid to sing along. It's never been a secret - I think multiple people have been subjected to that by now.

4. Most precious music item you own (collector mode on)
D: I guess my most precious music items aren't really collector's items. I have a bunch of records that belonged my parents when they were teenagers. There are some really great records in there The Beatles, The Monkees, The Everly Brothers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Beach Boys and they are all marked up by my parents with their names and other doodles and writings. I just think it's cool to kind of get a glimpse of what my mom and dad were like and what kind of music they were into when they were younger.
K: I don't think I'm a collector by any means, though I have a great deal of records and instruments lying around. Like Danny, I inherited a lot of records from my parents, though I've grown the collection quite a bit on my own in recent years. I suppose the most precious records that I own are ones that have stories behind their acquisition or hold sentimental value for me.

5. Favorite lyrics (not yours)
D: For an art class I took in high school, we had to choose song lyrics for a typography project. I remember I chose a couple lines from "Strawberry Fields Forever," by The Beatles. I'm not sure I would say they're my favorite song lyrics, but they've always stuck with me. Living is easy with eyes closed / Misunderstanding all you see / It's getting hard to be someone / but it all works out / It doesn't matter much to me
K: Since I merely pretend to know anything about the technical side of music, lyrics are usually what draws me into a song initially. Therefore, this question is absolutely impossible to answer. Just about any song I like has at least one verse or phrase that I think is wonderful. I simply couldn't choose.

The drummer of that small band
from Liverpool, you know?
6. Musician/s you would like to meet (should be alive, for obvious reasons, but you can choose a dead one too)
D: I'd love to meet David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
K: I've already embarrassed myself in front of Barry Tashian, so I'm going with Johnathan Sebastian and Peter Noone.

7. Favorite artwork album (not yours)
D: I've always loved the artwork for The Beatles' "Revolver." When I was younger I used to try to draw it all the time, but I could never get Ringo's nose quite right.
K: Admittedly, I don't pay a lot of attention to artwork on albums. There have been quite a few that I find aesthetically pleasing, but I couldn't narrow anything down. If anything, I focus on bad artwork more than I should!

8. Books or movies? Depending on your answer recommend us one (trick: you can choose both)
D: Lately, I've been watching a lot of movies. I even started documenting and rating them in a Tumblr I call I Like Movies. The last movie that I watched that I thought was really beautiful and moving was "Heartbeats." The original title in French is "Les amours imaginaires." It came out in 2010 and was directed by Xavier Dolan, who also stars in the movie. It's about a love triangle between three close friends. The music is amazing, the story and acting are great and it's beautifully shot. I'd highly recommend it. I recently read Gabriel García Márquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" for the first time. I can't recommend it enough.
K: Danny's Tumblr does have some great movie suggestions! I haven't watched many as of late. I think the last film I watched was “Robinson in Ruins.” I never thought I would enjoy watching a butterfly sit on vegetation for five full minutes, but I did! The imagery was wonderful. Books are much more my thing, though. I was a literature major in school and I still tend to devour books quite quickly. Before I left for Sweden I read Donna Tartt's “The Secret History” in about a week, followed by Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn” in about the same amount of time. I highly recommend both! I'm currently reading Andrew Brown's “Fishing in Utopia.”

The Swapsies, better than any World Cup
9. Release (of yours) you are most proud of
D: I love all the music that we've been fortunate enough to release on February Records, but the ones I'm most proud of are probably the first three that we released back in January 2010. We had three digital offerings come out on the same day to make a splash as we made the transition from a booking and promotions outfit to a record label. Those releases were Onward Chariots, "I'm So Good at Shining"; The Fictional West, "Giant Clouds"; and Women's Basketball, "An Octopus, But Like An Octopus With MassiveWings And Junk". When Onward Chariots went on to release with Elefant Records, I considered that something of a victory for our little record label.
K: There isn't one release in particular that I'm more proud of or that I like more than the rest. I genuinely love everything this label has produced since the very beginning. I'm glad that my involvement brought the label back from it's hiatus, and I suppose in that sense I'm proud of the first two singles we released in which I played a major role: Finnmark's Everyone's Dying” and The Swapsies “Another Game on Saturday”

10. What’s does it mean indie for you? (yes, the “serious question”)
D: This is such a loaded question. In a sense, I feel like the word "indie" has nearly lost all meaning. A lot of people see it as an aesthetic, whether or not the band or label is actually independent or not. Indie is not a sound or a look. To me, it's a conscious choice to go your own way, do things how you want to do them, and seek the approval of a much smaller, but much more devoted, group of fans and music lovers, rather than the approval of the masses, the majors, or the corporate media.
K: I don't necessarily think “indie” holds the same connotation that it used to. Personally, it simply means doing things on my own terms. It's a concept in which I try to live my own life by.

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
D: This is so far out for me to be thinking about. I guess I'd like to see February Records as an established record label with enough money to support a successful roster of bands.
K: I hardly know where I'm going to be a month from now, let alone ten years! I hope the label is still around in some capacity - maybe we'll be able to press vinyl eventually. Hopefully I'll still be in Europe, teaching somewhere. Maybe I'll even have learned how to play guitar by then. Better yet, perhaps I'll finally have caught up with the Lloyd Cole discography.

Zillion thanks Kristin and Danny!

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