Little Fury Things
Padna’s own Nat Hawks runs a rad micro-label out of Brooklyn with an even radder name! The releases that LFT lovingly puts out are by passionate artists that just want to do something different and push the envelope. You know, do their own thing. Artists like Robe., Arklight, Color Rabbit, Spermwhales, and Universal Studios Florida are a fun, eclectic bunch that have gotten out there thanks to this little critter of a label. Read what Nat Hawks had to tell me about his label….
I moved to Brooklyn from Syracuse, NY in 2001 with some friends. At the time I had a four-track recorder, a couple Casios, a guitar and some effects pedals. I started recording what would become the first of my solo releases under Padna. Essentially, me staring into space with a guitar through delay. Growing up in Syracuse you could find some weird music, but it was really about moving to New York and frequenting Other Music and Kim’s, that was when things started going for me. Every week I would go down and pick up a stack, everything from Can to Click n’ Cuts!
At the same time a high school friend, Eric Daum, moved to Buffalo and started to get involved with what was a very vibrant indie-shoegaze scene. He was in Astronaut Lost, one of my all time favorite LFT bands. Also, Carl Diehl, a long time friend and collaborator was doing post-rap with Cococainut in San Francisco.
So, yeah, like most labels, my friends and I were making a lot of music and CD burning had just become a reality. We needed someplace to put it all and I was stupid enough to decide that place would be me!
More recently, as the original LFT bands began to retire, I started releasing people actually not from Syracuse. USF, Robe., Farmacia, Mother33, SaberKhans, Holzkopf, Spermwhales, Colorabbit, Infurium, Arklight, GDFX, Birthdays, and upcoming stuff from D/Wolves, Boneless and Manburger Surgical.
Hell yes. The spelling always cracked me up. I assume it was a misspelling, as one-r-fury doesn’t make much sense. But it seemed awfully appropriate for a feisty, independent label destined for smallness.
And like a lot of music folks my age, my friends and I were way into Dino in high school. I remember hearing ‘the wagon’ on a skate video, Dwayne Pietre’s part I believe. Pre-Internet, skate videos were an awesome way to discover music. Early Sonic Youth was on Streets of Fire and Operation Ivy was on an H-Street video. And back to Dino, Blind skates used their “Just Like Heaven” cover, which was rad.
It’s funny now that bands like Dino, Pixies, and Pavement are mega-buck bands and I’m the old guy they are targeting and, well, awesome. I’m hoping for a Galaxie 500 reunion (since originally writing this, Dean is coming to town playing G500 tunes!).
I would say start with small runs and grow slow! Keeping it small keeps it low stress and fun. Connect with other labels who are like-minded. Trade with everyone. Ask for help from friends. Make it by hand as often as possible. Mail stuff to Animal Psi, Auxiliary Out, Foxy D, Brainwashed, The Good People. Support other labels and you will be supported in return. Listen to everyone’s music. Set up shows. Making packaging that people actually want to hold is super important. Cause, let’s be honest, people “preview” a lot of music these days.
For me, the New York Eye & Ear Fest put on by Todd Pendu has been a great way to get to know other labels. I hope those continue as I always come home with a Santa-size bag of new tapes!
Yeah… be realistic and keep it enjoyable and make breaking even the goal, not the assumption.
Meeting people that make amazing music. It feels good to help folks out. Releasing your friends’ music is super fun. Possibly the funnest. Last year I put together Gamehenge ’09, a 101-artist compilation recreating Phish’s coveted Gamehenge album. It was insane to organize, but quite a joy to complete. By the end I felt like I had made 101 friends. You can download it free off our site. I was really hoping Phish would hear it and comment on it somewhere, but I don’t think that’s happened yet. While I was working on it, I actually walked passed Trey one afternoon in midtown. He was alone. I opted not to approach him.
Releasing international stuff has felt good too. Holzkopf from Canada, The Questionmarks from Japan, Farmacia from Buenos Aires. Me and my wife ended up going to Buenos Aires for our honeymoon and got to hang with them. They took us to this weird basement discotheque with an awesome new-wave synth band. Pretty rad.
I’ve been a 7th and 8th grade English teacher in Brooklyn for six years now. The upside is I get a couple long-ish breaks on which I can record and write music. The downside is I have to be up very early and miss a lot of shows, which is tough here in New York because there’s a lot to miss. The other night I had to leave a show at 12:30AM halfway through Tim Hecker’s set, which hurt me inside, but waking up in the morning hurts even more. Like many, I certainly feel like I live a double life. I try to blend the two worlds sometimes, though, and play Gas or Mum or ambient Aphex during silent reading for my students. I get a lot of “this video game music is making me sleepy” comments!
But, at the end of the day, music is what makes me happy (alongside my wife and cat). And that’s the nice thing about small labels, there are small-ish responsibilities and are manageable. Just the good stuff!
It sounds cheesy, but I can honestly say I’m constantly inspired by the LFT stable. This is a very wacky time in music history, possibly the wackiest! It’s really fun to be part of a network of people listening in while new music forms bubble up. Thanks to the Internet, the amount of historic references and influences young people are exposed to is creating a lot of new sounds. Sometimes I spend days on end just listening to LFT and still find so many new sounds and connections. I’ll often think to myself that some other LFT musics are things I would myself create if I knew what I was doing.
I had never felt musically ‘senior’ until very recently. I had always dreaded the idea of someday “not getting” youth music. That has sort of happened to me recently with the whole lo-fi surf rock thing. I just don’t hear what others are hearing. However, all the LFT stuff keeps me feeling like I have some idea what’s going on still with them there youths.
When I was in high school, myself and three close friends formed an experimental indie-rock band Mr. Pluto (named after the Japanese cartoon character designed to dupe the public into believing plutonium safe). We would play for two hours live, a lot of songs had open jam sections. I was known to bust out the didgeridoo and metal detector! Ahhh. after that I found a four-track recorder in a pile of trash at House of Guitars in Rochester and took it home and started making goof-off experiments with Casios and mics and stuff and that led to fun experimentation. Then Us Vs Them was an instrumental math-y indie trio I played guitar in for many years in Brooklyn.
At some point-or-other I’ve been in a band with most people I’m close with, including my sister and wife. I often feel that being in a band with friends is the way I really connect with them. That’s like how my mom is with cooking.
So, I guess Padna and LFT happened at the same time.
I have so much trouble keeping up with the self-imposed LFT release schedule that just trying to get other folks’ stuff out the door is enough for me. Then I end up with these personal recordings that don’t get released quickly enough. I’m super, super stoked on the Stunned and Tape Drift releases! Great guys and great labels. I always recently had Padna cassette releases on Darbolistic Rex and Peasant Magik, and Abandon Ships put out the lastest Christian Science Minotaur. There is a true satisfaction when you get that package in the mail of your own stuff and get to feel that somewhere out there is a special someone who cares! All those labels put a lot of love and care into what they do. I’m truly honored to be on such labels.
Back when LFT started it was hard to connect with people. I, like many, was making music in my own private bubble. These days, it’s nice to share that bubble and to be witness to others’.
I believe we have entered a new frontier in psychedelic music of all kinds. Psychedelic music, to me, is music designed to surprise the listener. So much of what I hear coming out these days is unique and strange in ways that have not previously occurred. I would like to think that LFT is helping to document this current movement. This new style of hyper post-everything has occurred because of increased accessibility to music history through the Internet. You can’t be post unless you understand the pre, and the pre is downloadable.
It’s always interesting to watch how genre variations will, at first, create a sense of newness, which is quickly replicated by others latching onto this sense of newness, and the genre quickly becomes commonplace. I feel that right now there is a high percentage of true seekers-of-the-new. These are good days.
People can say whatever they want about MySpace, but it is through that stupid site that I have discovered every new band on the label. Sometimes they get in contact with me, sometimes I find them. I’m all about listening to all my MySpace friend requests. I’m doing that right now as I write this.
Fun question. I love Axolotl, Bonecloud, Burning Star Core, Millions, Oneohtrix, WOLD, time/life, Hell’s Hills, Corridors, and I’m pretty obsessed with Salem. Over the last two years I went through a heavy black metal phase. I really like the personal stuff like Lurker of Chalice, Xasther, Nortt. I really enjoyed a lot of academic-ish Euro sound releases from Alvo Noto, Murcof, Atom TM. Got into a lot of J-pop. Chip music. Actually, I’m nearly done with a 21-artist compilation that includes many of my all-time favorite artists. But that’s a secret.
But when it comes down to it, I’m an enormous IDM geek. Autechre for life!!!!
In the end, I’m very fortunate to put out stuff I really, truly dig.
I love demos. Folks should shoot me a MySpace message with a Sendspace link or something. As long as the files are small I don’t mind downloading them. I feel bad when people pay to mail me a copy of something, unless the packaging is ace, in which case I love it.
Also, don’t think I’m an ass if I fail to reply
The old site had an earlier version of the same dude. I can’t draw, and that was my image of what a ‘little fury thing’ might look like. My friends told me it looked like a piece of poo-poo, but man, I loved him! When we put up a new site I wanted to update him with fresh Pokemon powers! Damian, who designed the site, has a high-pitched voice when he wants to and did a nice job with the voice snippet stuff. Glad you like it!
Music I actually got a physical copy of this last year that I dug… I got Liturgy’s first release “Immortal Life” on vinyl, a prized possession. Got William Fowler Collin’s Type release on vinyl, which makes me very happy. And a ton of handmade releases on Darbolistic Rex, a really amazing label. Very unique, small run stuff for cheap! And, I’ll be honest, I bought digital copies of remixes of La Roux and Die Antwoord, so sue me.
Buy music once in a while, it won’t kill you.
Big cheers to all the LFT artists who are very patient with me and my awkward release schedule.
And thanks to Dave for his patience!
-- Dave Miller (25 August, 2010)