Monday, January 10, 2011

It all started with a "far-fetched idea": Q&A with Sean Peoples, Owner of Sockets Records in DC

Q:  So tell us what the impetus was for you to start the Sockets Record Label here in DC. [Quite a big undertaking, kudos to you.]

 A:  I started Sockets at the very end of 2004. I had been living in DC for a few years after attending American University. At the time, DC was home to a lot of amazing bands  after I graduated in 2002. I really wanted to be a part of that in some way. Beginning a label had always been a far-fetched idea, but I had a bunch of friends making some really interesting music around that time. Also, I just really love
all kinds of music – from run-of-the-mill pop to weird to really weird.

Some of the bands and artists in the noisier side of DC’s music scene, however, were not getting the proper documentation. Net labels were still a little while off and vinyl was just making its resurgence (even though that was a small resurgence in some ways). But there were a bunch of little community labels around 2003 and 2004 that were documenting their scenes in other cities. I felt inspired by what these small labels were doing: buy some recordable CDs, burn them yourself, and make the art cheap but replicable.

Q:  You said you were drawn to this city because of it's musical legacy; who specifically were you referring to? 

A:  Washington, DC’s hardcore/punk/experimental music legacy was always really important to me as a kid. One of the reasons I moved to DC for college was to experience some of these bands first-hand. I loved many of the bands on Dischord when I was in high school, including Faith, Minor Threat, Fugazi, Most Secret Method, the Make Up, and Rites of Spring. Duke Ellington. Marvin Gaye, and John Fahey were all from this area. Washington, DC was one of the main stops for the hardest working jazz artists throughout the 40s, 50s, and 60s. And I feel like there’s always been a creative and distinctive energy to the music that gets created in DC. It's a great town.

Q:  You've been quoted as saying, "The best thing about DC is that it's positive and the worst thing about DC is that it's positive."  Explain please....

A:  I think sometimes your biggest strength is also your biggest weakness.  DC, I believe, is on the precipice of getting a lot more attention for its fertile music scene. I think sometimes, though, we might need to spice it up a little and spark a little more friendly competition. It will help drive each other to reach a little higher. I think that’s missing from DC in some ways.

Q:  Sockets Records has a showcase coming up, on January 15th at the Black Cat! Who's in the line up and where can we get tickets?

A:  Saturday, January 15th is the annual Sockets Showcase at Black Cat Mainstage. Three local bands, including Hume, Buildings, and Laughing Man will be playing along with a new Sockets band from New York, Skeletons. I really can’t wait to hear this show. It’s a set of bands that I’ve always wanted to see on the same stage. I think they all have a distinctive sound that pushes the boundaries of experimental pop music. And I think for people who may not know about any of the bands or may just know a few, they’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Tickets are available at the Black Cat website: CLICK HERE 

Q:  Tell us about the release of the new Laughing Man CD and where we can catch their next show?

A:  Laughing Man work hard. They are always playing around DC. And I think, over the last two years, the band has really come into its own.  The band just released it’s debut CD on Sockets. Entitled The Lovings (’63-’69), the record is a culmination of distilling a huge amount of influences from jazz to blues to soul to raw guitar driven rock. I can’t wait for people to hear the record, which fortunately will be available at the Sockets Showcase and via the Sockets website here: LAUGHING MAN 

Q:  We heard another Socket Records band, The Cornel West Theory, is going to be hitting the road soon!  What is their tour schedule looking like?

A:  THE CORNEL WEST THEORY is on the road as I type. The band is working on its follow up to their first record, Second Rome. They will be recording with Dr. Cornel West himself this weekend and I’m looking forward to a late spring release of their second record. This band is so hungry and after opening for Public Enemy, The Last Poets, and a few others last year, I think they have what it takes to get to the next level.

Q:  Not only do you run a record label but you DJ kick ass dance parties!  Tell us about the up coming 3rd Anniversary of FATBACK!  (and congrats!)

A:  FATBACK is a dance party that some of my good friends and I started in 2008. Our formula was simple: transplant the vibe of an amazing, no frills house party to wherever we DJed. And it worked. We had no idea that it would, but every month we get together and play some of our favorite funk and soul for fellow dancers. It’s a blast. And, honestly, it is the folks who come out and dance that really make the party so great.

Fatback celebrates 3 years on the 22nd of January. That’s just a week after the Sockets Showcase.  I know we’ve got a bunch of surprises in store and I’ve been working on my set for the last month. I can’t wait.

Q:  For our fellow DC twits >>> What's your Twitter Handle?

A:  Ah, it’s easy to remember: @Sockets

Q:  So tell us Sean, what are the 5 songs (and artists) that have been looping on your iPod this week?

 -The new jj mixtape, Kills, is so good. The first track, “Still”,
 combines ethereal vocals with Dr. Dre. Can’t go wrong there.

 -James Blake’s new self-titled full-length is staggeringly beautiful.
 The cover he does of Feist’s “Limit To Your Love” gives me goose

 -Coma Cinema just popped up on some best of 2010 list and I decided to
 check them out. It’s the perfect daydreamy-bedroom-pop I’ve heard in a
 long while. “Be Human” from the record Baby Prayers is a favorite.

 -I’m a big fan of dub reggae and I’ve been really feeling Niney the
 Observer lately. “Ranking Trevor / Whip Them Jah” is one of my
 favorites from him.

 -I just bought Hugh Masekela’s The Boy’s Doing It. The titled cut is
 one of the best tracks ever. There’s no denying it. You have to find
 it. So good!

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