DIGITALIS INDUSTRIES/NORTH SEA - BRAD ROSE INTERVIEW
Here we have part three in the Eggy blog's ongoing interview series. The name Brad Rose should be familiar to anyone interested in the fringe music world -- the scope of Brad's activities really does warrant the designation "Industries." For years, the Foxy Digitalis webzine has been lifting the stones of the music world to reveal the most interesting critters underneath, the family of Digitalis labels has provided a home for countless artists and releases, and Brad himself has been a tireless creator of music under the monikers the North Sea, Ajilvsga, Alligator Crystal Moth and Altar Eagle (and others?), which has been released by some of the fringe music world's most venerable labels -- Type, Root Strata, Gift, Goaty, etc. On a personal level, Brad has long been a supporter of my music and writing, and as is the case for many, many others, I'm sure, Digitalis provided me a foot in the door of a strange and wonderful world of music. I spoke with Brad via email about his label, bands and music in Middle America.
How has being located in Tulsa had an impact on Digitalis? And on
I'm sure it has though it's hard to pinpoint how, exactly. Tulsa's pretty isolated in some ways in that there's not a ton going on with the local scene or shows and what not, so in some ways it's like being on an island. The biggest impact it's had is that it's so cheap living here that Eden & I are able to pay our rent/bills by working part time, so it leaves a lot more time and energy to put toward the label and music.
Do you have any thoughts on the remarkable vitality of fringe music in Middle America?
I think a lot of it stems from living in places where there's not a ton of stuff always going on, so we've got to find new and fun ways to stay inspired, creative and moving forward.
Are there other scenes, in America or internationally, that are exciting to you right now?
I dunno - it's hard to say since I haven't done a ton of traveling recently. I will say that I've got a deep affinity for Madison, Wisconsin and Chicago, but part of that is just from the fact we were up in both cities recently. With the kind of music I'm interested in, it's impossible to ignore Portland, OR and all the incredible stuff coming out of there.
Tell me a little about the beginnings of Digitalis -- did you have a clear idea of the kind of music you were interested in releasing?
Yes and no. I mean, I've never had a clear idea about it beyond it being something I was really into, so that's why our stuff can be sort of all-over-the-map soundwise. But I like that... for me, nothing is off-limits so it keeps everyone on their toes.
How would you say the label has changed, and is changing, since you first started it?
The biggest change has just been in our ability to get stuff out to a wider audience, I think. Obviously over the years we've done a multitude of formats and now we're hoping to transition into doing mainly vinyl and cassette releases (w/ digital versions available of some). I'm just figuring it all out as I go along.
I'm also curious about your North Sea project, how long it's been going, what it started out as, how it's different from Ajilvsga and Alligator Crystal Moth?
The North Sea started in 2002 though has its roots in an early project I did in the mid-to-late '90s called Ukraine. Sound-wise, I'm not sure how different it is from other projects but the main difference is that it's generally just me, doing all the sounds. This isn't the case on the new album, "Bloodlines," on which Mike Weis of Zelienople plays drums on the whole thing. But generally, it's just me.
So I just read that Not Not Fun is starting to digitalize their out-of-print back catalog so people could listen to otherwise unavailable music on ipods -- do you think other underground labels will start going in that direction?
Most of our CD releases (and some vinyl releases) are already available via digital download. The way I look at it is that anything that gets released on whatever format, some rip or mp3 version of it is going to end up on blogs, torrent sites - whatever. And generally, I'm cool with that - I want people to hear it. But I figure there is some population out there who doesn't really buy physical media (which is their loss, in my opinion, but still - music fans are music fans, whatever format they prefer) - so I figure why not give them the option of a format they want
in a way that supports the bands and the label?
What are your five favorite bad pop records (I will let you interpret that as you like)?
I don't know about five favorite, but some 'bad' pop records I'm listening to a lot these days are Erasure's "The Innocents" (I really gotta get that recent 21st anniversary edition); Lady Gaga; Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" (which was seriously my favorite song of 2009); The Cardigans; and I can't get Ke$ha out of my head lately.