Last week we ran the first part of our interview with the good folks at The Mylene Sheath. Lindsay and Joel—the duo behind the Athens, GA based label—talked to us about their beginnings, how they communicate with their fans and their vinyl releases. In the concluding half of our interview, find out about their newest release (Constants’ Pasiflora), new homebase and views on streaming services like Rdio and Spotify and more. And while you’re perusing their answers, listen to our favorite track from Sheath039.
You just put out the new Constants record. Briefly walk us through what the process is like for you in terms of working with a band from when they begin to write/record until the album is released.
This also varies from release to release. Sometimes the band already has the album recorded, and sometimes it’s already even mastered. Other times we’ll advance the band money to record and/or master the songs they have written. It really always depends on the band and its individual needs. In the case of Constants, Will Benoit (vocals/guitar) runs his own recording studio called Radar Studios in New England that runs completely off solar power, so he banged out that Constants album and it sounds incredible (Junius’ latest album was also recorded there). He does great work, so a situation like that is always great for us as the label, haha.
As for the writing process, if it’s a band that we’ve been working with for years, then they’ll occassionally send us demos of new material they’re working on and ask for our thoughts or opinions on it, as a fresh set of ears. But we minimize our involvement because we want the bands to be able to write in a stress-free, pressure-free kind of environment. We trust their creativity, otherwise we wouldn’t be working together in the first place. We might have an opinion or two about a part of a song, but we’re never like “change that to this and then do this, c’mon guys! DEADLINES! DEADLINES! DEADLINES!” We trust them when it comes to creating their music and usually they trust us in releasing it.
The label started out in Kentucky but recently relocated to Athens, GA (about 500 miles south). Your new home obviously has a rich musical history–how has it treated you so far?
We love Athens and we love so many of the people that we’ve met here. There’s a very special circle of individuals that seem to make Athens tick and they’ve all been very open and welcoming toward us. It’s always a little scary going into an established music community because they can often be threatened by a new presence or dismiss you instantly as an “outsider”. But Athens has been the complete opposite and they actually encourage us to get out more and be more active within the music scene–it really is a special place. The level of musical talent here is crazy too, some bands everyone should be checking out from Athens, if you’re not already hip to them, are Maserati, Cinemechanica, ‘Powers, Bit Brigade, Manray, Lazer/Wulf, Space Ghost, Grape Soda, Chrissakes…there are literally TONS more. It’s a super chill, southern environment, and it’s just fun to be out at night with everyone.
Your music is streaming on Rdio and Spotify. What are your thoughts on those and other similar services, and how do they fit in with your model overall?
It would be nice if they paid more, haha. But no, we think they’re absolutely awesome. It gives people a chance to hear a release they might not have otherwise checked out, and if they dig on it hard enough and they collect vinyl, they’ll likely buy the record. As for how streaming services fit our model, well our model has to continuously be changing with technology and time. We don’t dictate our model, circumstances and trends in technology dictate it all. You cannot avoid or control time, the future comes. Within this particular industry, it’s happening so fast that we can’t even treat the next release the same as we treated the last one. It’s very reactionary, you have to have some level of awareness and adaptation.
The thing we do like about streaming services though is that they continue to pay for each stream that somebody plays, where as you only get paid once for a download. So if the same person streams a song a million times, you’re getting paid every time, as opposed to them downloading the track once and you only getting paid once. That being said, you don’t get paid very much at all for a stream, and we split all digital income down the middle with the band, so it’s not much for either of us, though it does slowly add up over time. But after all is said and done, we try our best to embrace new technology and adapt to new methods of music distribution, and Rdio in particular has been great to us by giving our releases features and spotlights. As fans of music, we love Rdio and use it every day.
In an ideal world, where would you like to see the label in five years?
Hopefully alive and kickin’, still putting out records and finding some level of success. Maybe we will have put out another forty records more efficiently by using the knowledge we’ve gained from putting out the first forty. We have no idea what music will be like in five years, let alone what methods of distribution will be invented, but hopefully we’re continuing to adapt to it all and make the most of the opportunity we have been so fortunate to have been given.
We love getting emails from younger labels just starting up asking us for advice on this or that, we take those emails very seriously because it’s the exact same thing we did when we started up. We’ll spend a long time responding to those emails and trying our best to offer solid, dependable advice. So if we’re receiving more of those emails from young start-up labels in five years, then I think beyond any financial growth, that that’s a good gauge of success.
Be sure to check out The Mylene Sheath here!