Cory Brown is a busy guy. He founded Absolutely Kosher Records 12 years ago and has Misra Records to manage at the same time. He is responsible for records from Sunset Rubdown, The Wrens, Xiu Xiu, The Mountain Goats and The Low Lows amongst many other big names on the underground scene. Despite the hectic schedule, he still found time to catch up with us here at A Pocket Full Of Seeds for a bit of chat.
With the debut Laarks album getting a great reception, latest signings Wax Fang booked into a decent UK tour and even The Wrens showing themselves at some rare live shows would it be fair to say you were cautiously optimistic about the coming times at Absolutely Kosher?
Yes, I’d say cautiously optimistic for Absolutely Kosher. That about nails it.
The dramatic challenges that record labels have faced over recent years have been well documented by many, how do you see the industry doing in 10-15 years?
Considering that I’ve run Absolutely Kosher for 12 years now and how much it’s changed during that time, the only thing I know for sure is that the industry won’t resemble what it is now. I certainly hope it will be doing better than it is now. I think that a major shift that needs to change is that musicians need to earn a sustainable wage. Musicians as a whole weren’t doing very well during the industry’s salad days and now, it’s just awful.
The first song posted on this blog was Panda by Okay,things have been very quiet from Marty [Anderson, only permanant member and long time sufferer from Croen's disease], has he found time to work on his music?
Yes, we just emailed last week. After a very long dormant period, Marty’s started to both generate new artwork and record some stuff. It could be awhile before we see a new record though. We’re trying to put together a band that can tour and play Okay’s music when Marty can’t tour (the Okay Revue), which is most of the time due to his illness.
Which music blogs and online magazines do you read the most?
I read quite a few of them because it’s my job to keep up. I just adore Said the Gramophone for the writing as well as for their taste. You can go to MBV Music which aggregates StG and a few other great blogs. I go to Hype Machine fairly often and just listen to new music for hours.
What would you like to see more of in the music scene today?
I’d like to see bands struggle less. I think the music is fine but the mechanism that supports and promotes it is a bit off. I’d like to see a greater variety of coverage with a wider net. I wish there were other sites that lifted Pitchfork‘s very well-designed template with a different editorial perspective (not to replace them, but to provide a wider critical perspective). I’m also a little flustered by the predominance of dance music that’s covered. I like to dance, but I have bad knees and so it’s not my first choice.
Are there any labels or artists who are really impressing you?
I’d like to mention a few labels that seem to be killing it lately in terms of their output: Frenchkiss, Hometapes, True Panther, Woodsist, IAMSOUND and Thrill Jockey, who seems to be enjoying a renaissance of incredible quality the last couple of years, one that has gone sadly under-exposed. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few, but everybody should really look these labels up and follow what they do very carefully in addition to the Merge/Matador/Sub Pop/Kill Rock Stars/Rough Trade/4AD axis. I am forced to add the Secretly Canadian group of labels because they keep signing our bands and distributed labels etc. Ha! No, I really like a lot of their releases too. I’ve caught wind of a few UK labels that I like too: Upset the Rhythm, No Pain In Pop and Song By Toad.
My favorite UK acts right now are Buttonhead, Withered Hand, The Veils, Tindersticks, Frightened Rabbit [who interestingly started out on Mister Tramp Records who we scratched heads about a while back], Archie Bronson Outfit, The Chap, The Rollercoaster Project and The Fall.
Who would headline your perfect weekend festival? What’s your all time festival highlight?
I’ve been fortunate enough to see most of my favorite bands play live, so I’ll pick a five (it’s a festival!) that I never got to see, reunited (since nobody is dead, so far as I know):
- late period Talk Talk or even Mark Hollis solo
- Galaxie 500
- Heavy Vegetable [Rob Crow's old pre-Thingy/Pinback/everything band]
- Musafir (this pan-Indian group released only one album under this name called Dhola Maru and it’s completely amazing. There’s another group with the same name, so don’t be mislead)
- New Bad Things
All time festival highlight, hmmm. To tell you the truth, I dislike festivals quite a bit, preferring the comfort, safety and flushing toilets of a small, dark club. That said, seeing Spaceheads, Neutral Milk Hotel, Young Fresh Fellows, Mudhoney, Alistaire Galbraith, Kendra Smith, Bardo Pond, Roy Montgomery and others destroy it at Terrastock 2 was unbelievable. That’s my favorite festival in terms of music, vibe and food. I also love the Friend Island parties that Hometapes puts on at SXSW, very special. I’ve seen some great performances at SXSW too, but I’ll skip the laundry list.
Who is/was the coolest/most underrated person in music history?
In my life, in terms of personal impact, I’d say Matador founder and former Homestead A&R guy Gerard Cosloy is the coolest, though I suspect he’d cringe at that choice of adjective. I think he had possibly the greatest impact on the music of the last 20 years, not necessarily in terms of sales, but in terms of his A&R footprint as well as the impact the bands he signed had on the underground music scene and the bands that formed in the wake of those sounds. I have no intention of diminishing others.
Most underrated? The label guys and ladies are always underrated. They don’t make the music, but nobody will ever know the effort and responsibility involved unless they’ve done it and done it over time. So, um, me or Dennis Callaci of Shrimper Records. We’re pretty underrated.
Large sums of love to Cory.
Here’s a small sampler of some essential Misra/Kosher releases.
The RollerCoaster Project – Hoods Up [buy]
Sunset Rubdown – Stadiums and Shrines [buy]
Emily Rodgers – Hurricane [buy]
Life without Buildings – The Leanover (live) [buy] (My favourite song on Kosher/Misra)
Much more Absolutely Kosher and Misra records songs can be found here for free,