Friday, January 1, 2010

Big in 2k10: Blackburn Recordings

[download] Big Troubles - "Wouldn't Mind" (Blackburn 7" version!)

Twenty-ten will be our year. “It’s a nice even number. What could possibly go wrong?” (Wisdom from Liz Pelly.)

One label to surely look out for in 2010 is Brooklyn’s Blackburn Recordings. With a recently-released 7” from Ridgewood, NJ-band Big Troubles — who Real Estate’s Martin Courtney recently called his favorite new NYC-area band of 2009 — and an ambient forthcoming single from the mysterious, one-girl project Sultan, Blackburn are ‘bout to make their dreamy, lo-fi mark, from BK-streets and NJ-homes to the Midwest and beyond.

The Blackburn family is makin' moves this month, playing a number of Brooklyn shows; catch them live, stay ahead of the curve. Sultan plays MonkeyTown with Twin Sister and others on January 23. Show curated by Sharon Van Etten. Details here. Big Troubles play Bruar Falls on January 4th (curated by PopJew) and Silent Barn on January 14th. Details here.

Read on for another download and an interview with Blackburn founder (and fellow New Afternoon Show host!) Jonathan Williger covering some label history and plans for 2010, including a joint compilation with Infinite Best Recordings with tracks from City Center and Coasting. Oh and check out that precious photo above — Jon W and Big Troubles' Alex Craig, when they first met at NYU freshman year. Awwwrr.

JP: Yo Jon W. Can you please tell me a little bit about yourself and what led to you to start up Blackburn?

I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. That suburban Midwest lifestyle is almost more small-town than suburban, and it’s a huge influence on how I do things. Blackburn is named after a park in the town I grew up in, Webster Groves, that I went to a lot in high school. In St. Louis, no one really cares about local music except a small group of punk and noise kids, and if you play more melodic music you don’t get recognized by that group. There is a palpable feeling of apathy that surrounds the whole city because people don't support each other.

So, when I moved to New York for school and began to meet people who like a lot of the same kinds of music as me and saw smaller DIY labels popping up all around me, I decided that I wanted in on the action partially just to maybe expose some of the great music happening where I'm from. Although I live full time in Brooklyn and I'm releasing music from bands based in New Jersey and New York, I still think of Blackburn Recordings as a St. Louis thing.

JP: Can you tell me a little bit about the artists currently signed to the label — how you met them, current/present/future releases?

The first release I've done is a split 12" between two St. Louis artists, Falsetto Boy and Sleep In Sundays, The Sunflower Split. They're both in a singer/songwriter vein. Falsetto Boy is a bit more twee, and Sleep In Sundays is more depressive. I pressed 250 copies of that one.

[download] Sleep in Sundays - "Go to Sleep"

Coming out very soon is the debut 7" from Big Troubles. The 7" features an alternate version of "Freudian Slips", which has been floating around the Internet, as well as "Worn Out", "Little Hunter", and "Wouldn't Mind". Basically, they like the 90s, and loud guitars. Alex and Ian also play guitar in Fluffy Lumbers. 350 of these are gonna be pressed, 300 with normal artwork, and then a special edition of 50 with screen printed jackets which will be available through Blackburn mail order and from the band at shows.

I have two other projects that are upcoming that should be out sometime in early 2010. The first is a digital compilation that I'm organizing with my good friend Hunter who runs Infinite Best Recordings (Forest Fire, Twin Sister), which I'm really excited about. It will definitely include Sleep In Sundays, Big Troubles, and Sultan. Which brings us to the next vinyl release, which is a 7" from Sultan, who is based here in Brooklyn. She has a self-released cassette out right now, and I can tell you that the track “Of Man” will be on the Blackburn 7". Really great, dreamy, woozy stuff.

JP: Aside from the fact that it is currently in vogue, why do vinyl releases?

It’s mostly a fetish thing. I really love the way records feel and the packaging can be true works of art. I like the way it looks spinning on a turntable. The ritual is really comforting to me, pulling the record out of the sleeve, putting it on the turntable, carefully dropping the needle...It forces listeners to listen to every song, too, because you don't have the skip button. I'm obviously not the first person to say this, but I think vinyl is in vogue because it isn't so simple and easy to listen to; people are reacting to the ease and impersonality of mp3s.

(Disclosure: Blackburn founder Jonathan Williger and a number of the musicians on the label are seasoned DJs and managers at WNYU. Which means they really know their shit. And that I kinda like, know them.)

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