In the spirit of Thanksgiving, a young record label reflects on its first year.
Independent record labels have a lot to be thankful for. We continue our Spacebomb series with a list of what our own Matt White is thinking about this Thanksgiving. On Wednesday, November 23, we’re going to have some fun with DJ Mixie at Balliceaux, 10pm, free, ages 21+. Visit spacebombrecords.com for more info.
In the spirit of the greatest holiday of the year and on the eve of the first ever Spacegiving, I have made a list–a list of ten things that as head Spacebomber I am very thankful for. This past year has been a whirlwind for us. We have made a few records and made many new friends. We have experienced the rich talent that this city can offer firsthand and have done our best to use it in a new, bold, and exciting way. The things we can be thankful for are numerous and choosing ten was not easy; I tried to think big picture.
In no particular order:
1. United States of America
A grand synthesis. An ethnic melting pot like the world has never seen has created a cultural situation in which mighty music has been made. Jazz, blues, gospel, rock and roll, bluegrass, country, soul, and hip hop are traditions that all began their journeys on another shore but found a unique and transcendent voice here in America. In particular, the combination of European and African musical traditions and aesthetics has produced wonderful and powerful music. We have an indigenous musical language that is vibrant and Spacebomb is proud to be a part of that.
The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. Its invention has tectonically changed the landscape of music as we know it. Since then the technology surrounding the industry has allowed us to grow from primitive sound recordings to elaborate studio creations. Microphones, recording devices, overdubbing, multi-tracking, and sound manipulation have allowed the human race to create visceral experiences that prior to 1877 were unimaginable.
3. Napster, the Internet, and the collapse of the music industry
At no other time in the history of recorded music could a label have done what Spacebomb is doing. The rise of digital proliferation and sales have driven down costs and leveled the playing field to the point where talent, ingenuity and excellence rise to the top. Greatness is what matters, not a major label contract, and although that is a difficult thing for anyone to achieve it is realistic to think that if you can come somewhere near it, one’s work can be magnified and shared like no other time before. Sure, free downloading causes problems, but it also allows one’s voice to spread faster than you would ever imagine…but only if it’s good enough.
Spacebomb has a very special place in its heart for this fine little island nation. The Jamaican music industry is absolutely fascinating. It is wildly entertaining, danceable, and intensely consumer-driven. At the same time it is highly experimental, risk-taking, and driven by innovation: it is the house band model gone wild. They worked with very little resources and made some of the most dynamic music of this century. True innovators and independent spirits, the young men and woman who made reggae music are Spacebomb’s heroes and much of what we do is informed by the Jamaican music aesthetic.
This is pretty much the only non musical thing we indulge in around the compound. It is simultaneously a means to get away from the music world and the best window you could ever ask for into what it takes to be excellent. Sports is a black and white world, it’s measured in wins and losses. Art, thankfully, is not that. BUT, there’s not a better place where hard work, leadership, the desire to achieve, natural ability, intellect, craft, interpersonal relationships, internal personal faults, and dedication play out on a stage in front of your eyes. In every game I watch there are more parallels to making music than I could fit in this space and each one is a lesson to learn or to be reminded of. Plus, it’s a vehicle wherein I can take my Spacebomb partners to task in ye’ ol’ Spacebomb fantasy football league.
6. Ray Charles
The father of soul. The only true genius in show business, says Frank Sinatra. If I had to name one favorite musician, this is the man. Innovator, creator, wonderful singer, songwriter, bandleader, arranger, and piano player. This man is as soulful as you could ever be. His music is stunning, fun, beautiful, and brilliant. If only to make music like Ray.
7. New Orleans
The Big Easy. The birthplace of Jazz and cradle for rock and roll, soul, and funk. As far as Spacebomb is concerned, this is where it all begins. From Louis Armstrong to Allen Toussaint and all the beautiful musicians in between, these are our adopted fathers. This is the musical Bible we follow.
The Little Easy. No place like it. It is absolutely one of a kind. A beautiful town, rich in many ways. A surplus of talented artists live here as well as a community that does a fine job of supporting them. It also, conveniently, has very low living expenses. Spacebomb has made our home here, our family is here, and we would have it no other way.
The six building blocks of music. Every one is a deep, beautiful world unto itself. Together they make us laugh, cry, are with us in our highest and lowest points, and allow humans to express things that can not be voiced in any other way. They can be a toy for a child or a science for an old man. Or even greater: they can be a science for a child and a toy for an old man. They are teaching tools that show me my strengths and my weaknesses, not only in music but in life. They are a lens through which the world can be seen in thousands of ways.
10. The Spacebomb Family
Earlier, I said this list is in no particular order, but this one is the most important to me. The people that I work with to make Spacebomb possible are absolutely one of a kind. From Jesse, Dean, and Rawlz who handle the business affairs; to Pinson, Cameron, the Fight the Big Bull horns, and the rest of our fine musicians who play the music; to Joel and Travis who handle the art; to Sara and Adam who encourage, teach, and pull us along. It takes a community to make the records we make, and we have the finest one a man could ever ask for. The work that these folks have put in over the past year has been thrilling to watch. It is an extraordinary group of folks who have extraordinary talent and with whom we have been so truly thankful to work.
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Thus concludes my first annual Spacebomb Thanksgiving list. The past year has been a walk on the wild side. It has been doing what I love with the people I love. There’s nothing to be more thankful for than that.
Have a wonderful holiday,
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