The bulk of students at IU probably don't consider Bloomington an important music city. Sure, a lot of music comes through the Bluebird, they might think. And yeah, bands come and play for Little 500 every year up on the Jordan extension. The average student may even know that a student station that broadcasts on 100.3 FM (ya know, WIUX?) holds shows at the studio pretty regularly. But what every student may not realize is how important Bloomington is to the national music community.
So this week's Live From the BeeHive will be a brief refresher course in Bloomington's own record labels, an intro to the distribution companies and an entirely too-long string of band names that you will later Google to realize what you've been missing out on.
Secretly Canadian, Bloomington's most prominent record label, is located on West Second Street. The label was started 11 years ago by Ben and Chris Swanson (yes, brothers and both WIUX alumni), Eric Weddle (who skipped town to start Family Vineyard Records in Lafayette, and Jonathon Cargill (who goes by JC, how cool is that?). Eleven years and more than 100 releases later, Secretly Canadian has made a name for itself.
Secretly has an incredibly diverse catalog. Carrying local artists The Impossible Shapes, Horns of Happiness, Early Day Miners and others, Secretly caters to the Bloomington music scene. These bands collaborate on many projects and help spread the music love in the BeeHive by playing locally and assisting management at the artist community/venue, The Art Hospital.
But Secretly is not an exclusively local label. Swedes Jens Lekman and Frida Hyvönen both have releases on the label. Damien Jurado is from Seattle, the Danielson Famile is from the Armpit of America, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness --as dramatic as that sounds -- reside in Austin, Texas, and Catfish Haven and Magnolia Electric Co. (ex-songs: Ohia) both live in Chicago.
Secretly Canadian poster boy of 2005 is the androgynous Antony Hegarty (Antony and the Johnsons), a British transgender singer/songwriter who scored a Mercury Music Prize in 2005 for the album I Am a Bird Now.
As a testament to the incestuous nature of the Bloomington music scene, Secretly Canadian's sister label, local Jagjaguwar, is owned and operated by Secretly exec Chris Swanson and pal Darius Van Arman.
Jagjaguwar is home to awesome indie acts like Black Mountain, Okkervil River, Odawas, Wilderness, Onieda, Ad Aspera Per Astra and the list goes on. Just like its sister label, Jagjaguwar does its best to be incredibly diverse, unreasonably awesome and support local hardcore.
This week the Swanson brothers, Van Arman and JC announced a third label, Dead Oceans. In collaboration with ex-Misra Records label manager Phil Waldorf, Dead Oceans already has a full 2007 lineup. Bishop Allen, The Dirty Projectors, Iran and Evangelicals will all release albums on the brand-spankin' new label.
The Swansons must have learned a lot in kindergarten. They are all about sharing. Dead Oceans shares a few old Secretly artists and along with Jagjaguwar, the three share owners, management, office space and a distribution company.
SC Distribution, as it's called, is sort of at the middle of it all. SC distributes albums from 17 record labels from all over the country including K (The Blow), Asthmatic Kitty (Sufjan Stevens) and Orange Twin (Neutral Milk Hotel). Distribution is not a part of the business listeners often consider, but it is entirely essential to the music business. And with the list of artists SC distributes, we'd be nowhere without them.
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