AN INTERVIEW WITH BABE CITY RECORDS

TELL US ABOUT THE BIRTH OF BABE CITY RECORDS!

     Babe City started out of a frustration for growth of my bands and my friends bands. We were all working in our own lanes, with no real connection between each other or other bands in the DC music scene. I was pretty clueless when it came to other labels or what they provided, but I slowly learned what a label can provide for their artists and the surrounding community. How to channel growth through a collective. Babe City came out of a necessity to work together to create something bigger than what any of us were doing alone, and to provide an avenue for growth for the artists we represent, through management, publicity, production, and distribution, both physically and digitally. 

 

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE ARTISTS TO WORK WITH? IS THEIR A PARTICULAR SOUND YOU GO FOR?

   Geez. This is a hard one because I still don't know the answer to this "formula." For us, there hasn't ever been a click in the back of your head that says 'do it, this is the one.' At first, the decision making process had a lot to do with solely the music itself and our relationship with the artist, but then it grew more into the people behind the music as well. I only work with people I think I can trust, I only work with music that makes me feel something, and I only work with people that I think will work hard. No matter how good your music is, if you're not actively playing shows, working for your own band's growth, or have shaky relationships internally band members, we probably won't hop on board to a project. Releasing music in general is a very costly process on time, energy, and money - the relationship has to be very mutual. Without one side working as hard as the other, there's no point to a campaign. Who will remember your article in X publication two years later with no tour dates or new music or subsequent growth? This is one of the reasons we decided to work with NAPPYNAPPA. His incredible work ethic, attitude, and music is something we couldn't help but respect and want to be part of. The music brought us in, his personality and work mentality hooked us.

 

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT HAVING PHYSICAL MEDIA, SUCH AS TAPES OR VINYL, ARE A MORE MEANINGFUL WAY OF LISTENING TO MUSIC AS OPPOSED TO DIGITAL? DOES ONE LOST PART OF THE MUSIC LISTENING EXPERIENCE WHEN THEY USE STREAMING SERVICES LIKE SPOTIFY?

     Personally, I love listening to tapes and vinyl, but do I think overall it's a better way of listening to music than digital? The short answer is no. Vinyl sounds and feels fantastic, a time capsule of the band on a physical format with large art, room for inserts, and room for secret tracks or bonus items. There isn't the same capacity for that in streaming services. However, I think when it comes down to it, vinyl and cassettes are a preference to the listener, not exactly one format is ultimately better than the other. When it comes down to Spotify, this is still a way to experience an artist's music, generate a *small* amount of income for the artist, and ultimately, have the music with you on the go. I can't exactly listen to vinyl on the road, but the cassette player in our tour van will get the job done for sure. 

    However I think the biggest negative to streaming (besides the inevitable downfall of physical format releases) is the ease of changing a song. On CD and cassettes and vinyl, albums are mainly listened to all the way through, and the convenience of changing the track at anytime creates an iPod Shuffle-esque experience with Spotify. It definitely caters to the average attention span of this era, but I think indirectly, it discourages the user to listen to an album all the way through. Even personally, I have trouble thinking of the last time I listened to an album all the way through on Spotify. These sort of listening experiences more often happen on physical formats, and it's a pleasure to deliver this sort of an experience to an artist's audience.

 

IS THERE A SPECIFIC GOAL YOU HAVE IN LAUNCHING THIS LABEL? 

    Honestly, to see how far we can take it giving it everything we got. There most likely will not be a "Sarah Records 100 releases" quitting moment. Who knows.

 

WHAT'S IT LIKE RUNNING EVERYTHING FROM YOUR HOUSE IN DC FROM REHEARSING, RECORDING, AND HOSTING SHOWS IN YOUR BASEMENT? 

     I'm going to try and answer this in two different ways, because I can see two questions being asked here. The question of the experience running everything out of my house, and the experience of running a record label out of Washington DC. Concerning running everything out of my house, there's the obvious convenience of going downstairs into the office and being able to work, but also the limitation of not having a very central city location store & space for meetings. I have complete autonomy of when I want to work and my own hours, and I have a work-conducive space with a studio setup, office setup, and shipping station to facilitate all aspects of the label. Even a few weeks ago we brought out our tape recorder and cut a short live EP for Den-Mate, we'll most likely surprise-release in the future. Having the capability to do that sort of thing at any time is great. Productivity can often vary in early mornings or late at night.

    In terms of the label being based out of DC, the rent is too high but I do love this city. I grew up in DC and then Maryland and later moved to DC after college. Most of my friends and relationships are based out of the city, which is great, but I don't want to be pigeonholed to just being a local label. We want to achieve more for ourselves and our artists nationwide, and eventually, internationally, and the logical step to making this happen is achieving a higher reach outside of the DMV. Geographically though, being based so close to Baltimore, Philadelphia and NYC, I think there is a small advantage to being based in a music scene that isn't oversaturated with bands playing the same genre. There's still a lot of diversity in this city and music scene, and we definitely want to help grow it.

CHECK OUT BABE CITY RECORDS HERE

al smith