Archive for the ‘Blog from Sam’ Category
Have I ever mention to you that artists are a crazy lot? We can get obsessed over a trivial detail which – quite frankly – nobody in the world will ever even notice. And if they did hear it, they wouldn’t call it a “problem.”
Two weeks ago, Josh mastered the four tracks for the “Bike Shop” vinyl ep. They sound great; very “live” and present. However, the first verse of “The Cabin” seemed too loud to me, and not compressed well. This wasn’t Josh’s fault, it happened in my mix, and then was accentuated by the EQ and compression in the mastering. Gotta fix it!
I sent Josh a new mix of the track, to compensate. Guess what!?! On the version 2 mastering the vocals in the first verse sound very consistent (as far as the volume from word to word), but they all sounds a bit too soft.
Yeah, right! Probably half a Db too soft. Anyone going to notice?
Now I am going to try Josh’s patience by suggesting an EQ fix to the problem.
In “She’s Gone” I wrote, “Love’s a lot like insanity anyway.” Well, hey. Being a musician is a lot like insanity, too. : )
I found a model that I think would look great on the cover. I’ve sent her a message, but no answer yet. I made a mock-up of the cover, but I have to hear back from her before I can share it.
Things are moving along…
Yes, streaming is growing, while physical & download sales are shrinking. Projekt has seen this pattern, like most other labels. I would love to see a chart that shows TOTAL dollars year over year for the last decade, then breaks that pie out out between physical, digital download, and streams. I am quite curious what that would look like. If you have such a chart, send me a link.
From my perspective (as the guy running Projekt), I sense there are many people who have switched to streaming as their primary source of music (with perhaps a couple purchases a year of limited edition titles from their favorite artists). While many artists reflect nostalgically about the way it was in the 90s, I am a realist; I have to think about what is happening NOW, because (alas) we cannot go back to the way it was. As a business person, I’m always looking ahead and following along with the formats that the audience is interested in. If people aren’t buying CDs (or downloads) anymore, then Projekt as a label (on behalf of my artists) has to pick up the pennies wherever I can.
I don’t think the streaming model can sustain smaller artists, the pay rate is too low. However, it’s a case of SOMETHING vs. nothing at all. Yes, I know; it sounds like I’m “endorsing” streaming. Not exactly; but at this point what’s the other option? You can’t force customers to buy something when so many have given up on buying. Loyal fans (like those of you who buy CDs from us here at the Projekt site, our Bandcamp page or iTunes), can be relied on to buy objects. But it’s tough for that to support a small act’s $14 standard retail release CD.
I tell anyone who wants to listen that things aren’t over for us artists. It’s about (a) using all the distribution/funding tools available, and (b) having a conversation with fans that financial support is really important to help us pay the costs involved in creating art.
In the end, streaming is the way a lot of the listeners are headed. Nearly all labels I speak with report substantial streaming growth in the last two years; it’s now part of how we stay in business. You can’t leave the pennies on the floor. You gotta pick them up.
I still love when people buy from Projekt, and at the same time I realize that isn’t the way everyone wants to get their music. I do what seems best for the artists I work with.
Thanks for your support.
Outubro 14, 2015 · by Pedro Gomes Marques · in entrevistas, música
Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Projekt and Sam Rosenthal are names that merge, and emerge, when we look at the past 30 years of the so called darkwave sound. It all started in Florida in the early 80s while Rosenthal had a fanzine and, at some point, included a song on a tape featuring some local bands he was writing about. They were all very new romantic / electropop oriented, a genre so fashionable in those days. From there to create a record label that could launch the work of his own band, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, was just a little jump. And thus was born Projekt, a name that became a reference that distinguished itself over the 90s, launching groups such as Lycia, Love Spirals Downwards, in addition to the already mentioned Black Tape For A Blue Girl. In a conversation with Sam Rosenthal, we got to know the news about new Blacktape, as well as the circumstances that continue to make possible a label like Projekt in such hard times for the record industry, when everyone is fully aware that the music business has changed radically.
1: These Fleeting Moments, Blacktape’s new album, will be out on spring 2016. From what I’ve read on the Bandcamp page, you’ll be returning to that ethereal sound of the early 90’s. Why is that? Did you feel some uncontrollable need for this BTTB?
Sam: I think 10 Neurotics was as far as I needed to go, in the direction of writing really structured songs in a pop/rock/cabaret vein. It was interesting and challenging to do that, but I guess you can only go so far. It’s probably the same reason I started writing less-ethereal songs, after The Scavenger Bride. I didn’t want to be an artist who had to do the same thing each time. I want to try new things. Even if that “new thing” is actually an older thing (laughs). I also think that people are happier when they are hearing a style that they expect from an artista, so it’s a delicate balance. I feel the new songs come from that same 90’s darkwave space, but they sound current. I am using less reverb on the vocals; I’m not burying these amazing performances. Sometimes I listen to the old albums and scratch my head and wonder why the vocals are so deep in the effects. Also, as you’ve noticed, the last few albums didn’t have many instrumentals. So I am bringing some of that back. I met a great violist here in Portland, Grace, who is playing on some of the tracks. To give a nice searing string sound to the tracks.
2: Remnants of a Deeper Purity is higly acclaimed and considered as Blacktape’s masterpiece. Do you think that These Fleeting Moments will be able to compete with that classic album? By the way, what’s your favourite Blacktape album? (and why do you prefer it)
Sam: There are tracks on the new album that fit in very nicely with Remnants, and I think people will enjoy hearing them. I don’t know if I live with ideas of “compete with,” because I’ve never been about competition like that. I do think about making music that people who love Blacktape will be excited about. And I am thrilled that I still have it in me to write those sorts of pieces. As far as favorite? I am really partial to A Chaos of Desire. I just love those instrumentals with Vicki!
3: Looking at the new album’s title, may I conclude that you’re telling us that all in life is ephemeral? Is there anything that isn’t?
Sam: What I am thinking is that our moment in this life is very ephemeral, and I’d suggest we each look at what we are doing with our life and honestly ask ourself if we are spending our time in a way that will feel good, when we get to the end. I think a lot of people rush through their lives, and put a lot of their effort into things that – at the end – will seem pretty trivial. Such as answering emails. Or watching cat vídeos. And when the end comes, will you say, “Shit! Should I have watched all those cute kittens? Or maybe I should have loved more.”
4: There was a time when you strongly supported the free digital downloads because you believed that people exposed to music would, eventually, support the artists they enjoy. I have the idea that, altough you’re behind the PETm website, you still believe in this concept. That’s why you share some part of your music for free on Bandcamp, am I right?
Sam: You know, I’ve definitely see-sawed on this topic over the years. In the beginning of the digital age I was very pro-free-exposure, then grew very annoyed by free, and now back into believing in it. I’ll tell you why I’m back to believing in this concept: You cannot fight change. You can scream at it, and bury your head in the sand. But that ain’t gonna alter what is happening. Ultimately, you have to work with what you are given. And if people want things for free, then I am looking for ways to make that work for me and my art.
5: You’ve been often returning to Kickstarter and you’re doing it right know to put the “Bike Shop” EP out as a vinyl edition. As an artist and a label owner, do you think that’s the right path (and probably the only one) for independent labels and musicians to make a living through art?
Sam: I wouldn’t say it is the only path. There are some indie artists who get ahead with other methods. But I think it is a sweet spot for my music, and it’s a way to connect to people who care about what I do, fund releases, and feel some sense of dignity in the process. Five years ago, as mentioned above, I was really frustrated with “people taking my music and not paying for it!” I had to really live with that, and work through that, and discover an avenue like Kickstarter where I could connect with people who respect my work as an artist. It has been both inspiring to me and a source of income. It’s been great in multiple ways.
6: On the “Bike Shop” EP you have the collaboration of vocalista Michael Plaster, from Soul Whirling Somewhere, a band that arrived to my ears in the 90’s through the Projekt label. How and why did this collaboration happened now?
Sam: When I was writing “Bike Shop,” I realized it was the perfect song for Michael: it’s an intimate story about lost love, and reflecting on love. This is really what Michael specialized in, with his lyrics. I’ve released all the SWS albums on my Projekt label, and I’ve listened to them hundreds of times. I know where he likes to go, lyrically. I felt a bit like one of those old-timey songwriters, writing songs for a star who was going to be in my show. I created the lyrics for the three additional songs in a week. Telling more of the story about the situation behind “bike shop.” There are ideas that come directly from my real-life experience (yes, I was dumped via text!) And there are bits I made up. I like how it all feels very personal and real.
7: Nowadays, how do you choose artists to be part of the Projekt catalogue? What kind of sound are you looking for?
Sam: I really haven’t been adding many artists to Projekt, these days. The most recente signee is Mercury’s Antennae. They have a sound that really fits the label. It’s Dru from this Ascension on vocals, and Erick on guitar and electronics. They have a 90s Projekt / Lycia sound. With some 4AD as well. They’re the perfect band for Projekt.
8: In your point of view, what are the main differences between a major label and an independent label?
Sam: Major labels have a lot of money, and put out a ton of music in the hopes that one or two acts are a hit. Indie labels spend more time on a small group of artists, trying to nurture careers. I personally am not anti-major label. A lot of the music that I love came out on majors (granted, we’re talkin’ back in the 70s and 80s). Warner Brothers took a chance on Devo, for example. A major put money behind Gary Numan or Peter Murphy or Soft Cell or the Cure. Can’t knock that!
9: There were some bands that, at a certain stage, were part of the Projekt label. I’m thinking in Love Spirals Downards, Lycia, Peter Ulrich, Thanatos, Autumn’s Grey Solace, and so on… Do you still have contact with any of them? If so, what do you usually talk about?
Sam: Oh yeah, I’m in touch with them. I am having a Facebook conversation with Pat from Thanatos right now. Of course, I have known Pat since middle school, so he’s definitely a friend as well as a guy from a band that used to be on Projekt. Pat and I are discussing the “Bike Shop” Kickstarter, actually. With the other bands, it’s more about royalties, or an offer to be on a compilation (there’s a lovesliescrushing track coming out on a Cherry Red Records shoegaze boxset).
10: You’ve been moving from place to place over the years. Florida to L.A., L.A. to Chicago, then you moved to New York and now you’re living in Portland, Oregon. Was this a personal option? All these different places are reflected in your work, or is it something that doesn’t affect you at all? (as a musician and as Projekt owner)
Sam: I am fortunate that Projekt can operate from any city. Most people have a much harder time uprooting their lives to go somewhere new. I was also very lucky that my son’s mom and I are still friends, so we could orchestrate a cross-country move, get out NYC, and resume our lives, and watch him flourish.
I would say that the way that Portland is reflected in my art is TIME. I now have time to make art, because Portland is an easy and inexpensive place to live. In Brooklyn, everybody is always stressed out about earning enough money to afford to live in Brooklyn! It really drains you. Here in Portland, I have the time and brain-space to make art. I like it a lot.
11: Are you interested in other forms of expression of the human spirit, like philosophy, literature, painting… ? Do you have any hobby in some other form of art?
Sam: Hmmmm. I’m probably not so much a fan of painting and literature these days. I like reading psychology or self-help. Stuff about the human spirit, but more about finding ways to actualize it, vs angsty or lofty expressions of it, like in art. I like finding things in my own pysche that I can wash out and improve upon!
12: Will you continue to use photos taken by your son to make cover art for Projekt records, as it happened with As Lonely As Dave Bowman? Is he interested in arts as his father is?
Sam: He’s much more interested in electronics and engineering, not so much art. He’s a really good classical guitarist, but he is not continuing with it at this time. Yeah, I’d use more of his photos… but he’d need to shoot some. I asked him to shoot the cover of Dave Bowman’s MONOLITH. But while I was shoving the camera at him, I noticed something interesting myself, photographed it, and that became the cover. “Sorry son, I just took your job!” (laughs)
Thanks for the interview. I like the interesting questions that I haven’t answered before.
Written in Blood by Lithuanian writer, journalist, music and mythology researcher Mindaugas Peleckis is now out; it is published by Numen Books, Australia. It is in English and includes an interview with Sam Rosenthal as well as Peter Andersson (Raison d’être), Andrew Liles (Nurse With Wound, Current 93) and many others. You can read more about the book at radikaliai.lt.
Here is Sam’s interview, conducted in February 2015:
1. You worked with a plethora of artists over the years. What collaborations were/are the most interesting and important to You and why?
Sam: The most important collaboration is whichever is the recent one I am working on, because it’s the most immediate and the most exciting. I moved to Portland, OR, a bit over a year ago; and I’ve started working on new Black Tape For A Blue Girl music.
2. Can You tell me, in short the main ideas are behind Your music? Could You name Your favorite of Your compositions / albums / collaborations? What about the new album?
Sam: With my music, it’s always been about creating the sounds I want to hear, that nobody else has created. So for me, it’s about making interesting music that I enjoy. I imagine the new album will be more ethereal and darkAmbient; it will be different from the Dark Cabaret / Rock sound of the last couple of albums. I feel 10 Neurotics was really successful in that sound, and I’m never interested in making the same album twice. I want to explore emotional and more textural sides of what I do.
3. The sound is magic. You‘ve proved it. But, what ends, when there‘s no sound?
Sam: Well, it sounds like this question is about the meaning of life? What is there when there is no sound? I think there are the memories of sound, and the anticipation of the future sounds. But if we are no longer of this life, then will there be sounds when we return to being part of the energy of the universe? That is a good question, but I don’t know if I have a very good answer to that.
4. What is and what is not a Sound Art?
Sam: For me personally, I am interested in melody. I am not so excited by noise or music that has nothing that my brain can latch on to. That said, something like Fripp & Eno is very melodic and catchy, so you can tell my opinion is not within the mainstream. Then again, I don’t assume that my opinion is very important, or should have any influence on the what is / what is not art discussion.
5. What do You think about relations between the old art and computer art? Are they compatible?
Sam: Yes, they are compatible. Computers are a tool. And like any tool, it is a question of the quality of the person who uses the tool. I love recording with a computer, because it opens up so many more possibilities; I can do thing I could never do on my analog 1/2″ 8-track. So for me, the computer is a great tool to help me better realize my art.
6. What do You think about thousands of neofolk/industrial/ambient/tribal/electroacoustic/avangarde etc. bands/projects? Is it a kind of trend, or just a tendency forwards better music?
Sam: Well, that must be a European-based question. I don’t know about thousands of bands like that here in America. Is it a problem for you?
7. What do You know about Lithuania? How and when did You come to it? What Lithuanian and foreign musicians do You value most?
Sam: I am not very familiar with musicians from Lithuania. Of course I know Lithuania is one of the Baltic countries, and returned to independence after long-time Russian rule. I guess I would say that I worry for all the countries in your region. I worry if Russia has ideas about those free countries. I don’t have a lot to go by, to make any educated comment on this topic.
8. Could You tell, please, some words about my initiative to print the first book about experimental music / Sound Art (i call it postmusic) of Lithuania (and, at least, Eastern Europe)?
Sam: This is an exciting idea. It is good that there are still people who want to communicate and educate through physical objects, such as books. There is more than the internet!
9. What inspires You most?
Sam: In the early days, my art was inspired by angst, and longing, and passion. I think I have less angst these days; my son gives me a lot of excitement and happiness. But there’s definitely still longing and passion. I think people are generally very isolated, and rather sad. And that is something that I wish I could overcome. For people in general, and for myself in specific.
Thanks for the interview.
This is the same box we listed in April. If you purchased one back then, you will get the exact same CDs if you buy this one.
This is a 20-pack of Projekt CDs — $45 in the USA (includes Media Mail postage). Outside the USA, postage is additional. The barcodes are struck, some are without jewel boxes. The majority of the releases are Goth/Darkwave, though there are a few electronic/ambient titles, too.
What is in the 20-4-45 pack ? It’s a surprise!! Well, except for that copy of Tenderotics you can see in the photo!
The contents of each box is the same (give or take a CD). If you order more than one, you will have two copies of nearly every album. It is statistically possible you already own a few of these albums. Give those duplicates to a friend and they will love you even more!
If you want a 20-4-45 box, email email@example.com with “20-4-45 please” as your subject. Include your snail mail address. I will reply with payment instructions. As the weekend is coming up, you might not hear from me until Monday…
Enjoy! Sam Rosenthal
Preorder a signed CD for $14 at the Projekt webstore. Shipping late-August.
• Limited edition of 500 • Our initial batch signed by Mike, Tara & Dave< Lycia's 2013 Quiet Moments is the best selling release of the last two years at the Projekt webstore. I was excited to learn that Handmade Birds has a new Lycia release shipping late-August. I listened to an advance copy of A Line That Connects and can report that it follows QM in the style of the classic 90’s Lycia sound, with a few harder-edged tracks, and some guest (male) vocals.
Another great Lycia album, I’m glad they’re back.
I wanted to do something special for you so I asked Mike if he’d sign Projekt’s initial copies of A Line That Connects. He said yes, and that’s what you’ll get when you pre-order at the Projekt website.
PITCHFORK: “For over two decades, Arizona’s Lycia have been pioneers of ‘darkwave,’ a reverb-drenched, gothic take on dreampop. This is the Cocteau Twins, if they looked so far inward that they began to focus on the darker, downer-ridden side. Along with lovesliescrushing, who freed shoegaze from pop conventions, they became one of the noteworthy and boundary-pushing acts on the goth music label Projekt. (A Line That Connects) is consistent with their past efforts, while remaining an intriguing headphone journey.”August 2013 interview with Mike conducted around the release of Quiet Moments by Sam. Other releases available for pre-order:
Ashbury Heights: The Looking Glass Society CD (Expected Late July) $18 Ataraxia: Historiae CD (Expected Late July) $17 Atomine Elektrine: Elemental Serverance [Expanded] 2CD (Expected Late July) $23 Irfan: The Eternal Return CD (Expected Late September) $17 Marsheaux: A Broken Frame 2CD (Expected Late July) $27 She Past Away: Narin Yalnızlık CD (Expected Late July) $17Recent releases now in stock:
Order the CD for $14 at the Projekt webstore. SONIC IMMERSION: “Lots of reverb is at play in these slow morphing, melancholic-infused textural waves, all focusing on the essential elements of sound: silence, tone, and time-altering forms.”
Friday July 17 @ Noon Pacific / 3pm East Coast
SomaFM streaming radio premiere of Steve’s Etheric Imprints — http://somafm.com/dronezone/
Etheric will not be up for streaming at Spotify, etc, but you’ll be able to hear this mesmerizing introspective electronic / ambient music on THE DRONE ZONE. There’s a chat window that Sam will be participating in, typing in answers from Steve.
See you there!
Hi there. An update from Black Tape For A Blue Girl:
As you might know, I have a Patreon page for my music. Patreon is a crowdfunding site where you can pledge monthly support. To date, 96 patrons are donating $683 to assist my creations.
In emails back and forth with patrons, I often see comments like, “Just wanted to say I’m here mostly to support you and the music you make, rather than the goodies, but they’re definitely a plus.” Or “I honestly support just because I want to, as a thank you for the music that I have loved for years, and as an investment in future music from you.”
It is so cool that you like what I do and want to be there for me. Thanks.
There is stuff you get in exchange for your support. At the $5 level, you get two free download albums from the band’s catalog. At $10, you also get a hand-written lyric. And all patrons have exclusive access to my music as I’m creating it.
This month, I’ve uploaded a 15 track collection of out-takes from the last year in the studio. It’s doubtful any of it will make it to the new album, but perhaps you’ll find a hidden gem that you love! (The 2nd half of this message is more information on the download).
If you’d like to hear this music, join my Patreon. Everyone who joins this week will get the June 2015 package , even though you haven’t been charged anything. Patreon charges your credit card once a month around the first.
I’ll also throw in the May package with the first draft of the new album in progress
The Kickstarter for MONOLITH (the electronic space-music album from my solo-project As Lonely As Dave Bowman) was a success; it reached 150% of the goal. It is now in production at the 3 different plants involved. The plan is to be complete in time or earlier than the July release date. There will be some additional copies available from the Projekt webstore.
The Blacktape Bandcamp page has all our albums and my side projects available. Some as low as free, few as expensive as iTunes. Give it a listen, you can stream most tracks. Or purchase something.
I’ve mentioned that 2015 is the year I get back to making music; I’m really active with that and I appreciate that you help make it happen.
PS: I shot the photo on the cover of the June package this weekend. Check out more from the set here on my photo website. These are glamour / portrait shots – nothing naked on this page. But be warned that some of the links on the page goes to NOT SAFE FOR WORK images. Be careful with the clicky-click at work or if your partner doesn’t care for that kind of thing.
Information on the download:
June 2015 – Album Deitrus
I was asking myself, “What is the most embarrassing thing for me as a songwriter and artist?” I think the answer is, “my failures.” Which is to say, all the little bits of Black tape for a blue girl music I try to create, don’t like and discard.
Honestly, the really really bad stuff never even gets recorded. I’ll play around with an idea for 30 minutes and then go, “Nope, that’s awful!” and move on to something else.
This weekend I saw Paul Barker (ex-Ministry) record a live podcast interview (at a theatre here in Portland, following a movie about the early UK industrial music scene.) Paul said something I’ve also expressed: when you’re working on music, you get really focused on what you need the piece to achieve; if it’s not up to that high level, you toss it. But sometimes you come back years later and realize it wasn’t as bad as you thought it was.
I would add that artists get overly obsessive-compulsive during this process, a bit manic or depressive (based on their personality), and we lose sight of the trees for the forest. Making art is a lot like falling in love: it’s irrational. You don’t see reality, you begin to see what you want to – and need to – see. Perhaps when there are bandmates with equal creative control, you have others to balance the obsession? Working on your own, it’s just your own irrationality & obsession to base these decisions on. Of > course, this also explains bands that break-up over “creative differences.” If four or five people all start getting obsessed on different aspects of a song, it’s no wonder songwriting teams almost always explode. How long would you put up with Lou Reed, if you were John Cale? : )
Ok. Did I get off topic. I think I got off topic…. rewind… >I have 15 failures for you this month. Well, ok, I’m being melodramatic, maybe they aren’t that bad… but they are all bits of deitritus from the last year in the studio. Most of this music is listenable at least once. Some of it is repetitive because it’s backing instrumental tracks that would have had more added as time went on.
And who knows? You might absolutely love one of the pieces and find your own buried treasure within these 30 minutes of remains, remnants, fragments and scraps.
I am sure Ashes fans will enjoy the first track. I was trying to see if I could figure out the sequence from “I wish you could smile.” My notes from the 80s recording were rather cryptic. But I got it.
“2014_09 Icy Drone” could have been a track for the As Lonely As Dave Bowman Monuments (addendum) release. I forgot completely that I had recorded it; When I was compiling the bonus release, I kept thinking to myself, “Wasn’t there another song I planned to include?” Ooops!
I can’t say for sure that this stuff will never see the light of day, there’s always a possibility that something will re-spark my imagination and make it’s way onto the album. But my feeling is this all goes onto the rubbish heap of history.Do you have a favorite?
Post your comments and impressions on this Patreon post. Sam
Well, that was fun! We reached 145% of the goal. As with each previous Kickstarter, I learned many new things about how to run a Kickstarter! It was fun, though I’m also glad it’s done, so I can go back to my life of NOT promoting a Kickstarter! : )
I loved being able to give you the music (546 downloads at Bandcamp) at the same time as the CD funded. You might ask what’s the difference between giving the music away on Bandcamp versus it streaming for almost-free on Spotify (or free at a torrent). The difference is that we make a connection via Bandcamp and Kickstarter; it’s just a cold anonymous play on Spotify. I like the connection. Going all the way back to “we return” on the rope, it’s always been about connection.
Now the next phase begins, getting the pieces into production. The scheduled ship date is July, but I do expect it will be done before then. All pieces will ship at the same time.
Thanks again, Sam