Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’
For this week’s installment of our new label profile feature, we’re heading across the pond to sunny Los Angeles to chat to a great new-ish independent label called Hit City USA.
Since 2008, they’ve been releasing some very exciting new indie music from local artists on vinyl (as well as digitally), including Superhumanoids, who toured the UK a couple of years back, and Princeton, a fantastic four piece whose latest album, “Remembrance Of Things To Come”, was produced by the talented Andrew Maury. They’ve also recently put out the debut 5-track EP from the rather promising duo PAPA. We’re sensing a recurring theme throughout all their releases to date – they all sound vital, fresh, have a great pop sensibility and ooze a laid back, California cool.
If you’re not yet familiar with these guys, we hope the following piece will change that. We caught up with one of the label’s founders, Cameron Parkins, to find out more:
LFC: When did Hit City U.S.A. start?
HCU: We put out our first release in 2008 – The Franks’ Un EP.
LFC: What were your inspirations and motivations for doing it?
HCU: Part of it was the appeal of running our own label – curating releases, being actively involved in the music scene around us – and part of it was necessity – we had our own project, The Franks, and wanted a platform to distribute music on. So we founded the label, loosely initially, to do so.
LFC: Are you genre specific, or is it a case of you sign something that excites you?
HCU: Not genre specific – we put out music that makes us feel alive and excited and passionate.
LFC: How do you find bands to work with?
HCU: All different ways – we hear about them, someone tells us about them, they are our friends, we go to a show etc. Up until now we’ve worked with LA artists only, something we are looking to branch out on.
LFC: Do you focus on US talent, or would you sign an international band and introduce them to the local market?
HCU: We would love to work with an international band – until recently, we haven’t been equipped to do so, but we have the infrastructure in place now that a release from an international group could be executed well. It’s all about timing and making sure that if we commit to something, we can commit to it fully.
LFC: Where can people buy Hit City USA releases?
HCU: They can buy our releases directly from us at the Hit City online store (hitcityusa.com), from all major digital download services (iTunes, Amazon, etc.), or from select neighborhood record stores. If your neighborhood record store does not carry Hit City U.S.A. releases, call and request that they do.
LFC: What have you found to be the biggest challenges in running a vinyl-centric label?
HCU: It’s twofold: The cost in manufacturing and promoting vinyl is high, so each release is a major investment. Beyond that, in making sure that we produce the best quality product we can there are a lot of moving pieces and often you won’t actually know how something will look until it’s already been manufactured.
LFC: What have been your most successful releases to date?
HCU: Each of our releases are sacred and successful for many reasons. We have various ways of measuring success, choosing one project above all others would not do justice to our work and that of our artists.
LFC: What can we expect from Hit City USA in the future?
HCU: A lot, we hope. We know better than to make any promises here and now but projects are in motion. Expect more good music and more of that California cool you know and love.
We’re sure there are many types of bands in the world. But we’re going to simplify things for the purpose of this piece, and to illustrate a point. We’re going to suggest that there are two types of bands – bands that are simply here today, gone tomorrow, and ones that stay with us for a lot longer, are intrinsic to our record collections, and never veer far from our drunken pub conversations. To add to the latter category – bands who we’d go and see year after year, and ones we get excited by when they announce they’re releasing a record, or coming to our town.
It’s relatively early days for Los Angeles’ Milo Greene – they’re releasing their debut full length in the US next week – but we’re going to go out on a limb here and confidently suggest this bohemian looking quintet are with us for the long haul.
We came across these three songs of theirs (below) a few days ago, and have been listening to them wherever and whenever possible ever since. Put simply, it’s gorgeous, melody heavy, harmony filled indie folk that seduces you on first listen. It’s music, we imagine, created by people who were raised on the likes of Love and Crosby, Stills and Nash and have more recently lived in a world where Local Natives, Fleet Foxes and Edward Sharpe are lauded recording artists, all of the time basking in glorious Californian sunshine.
If there was ever an example of music being a direct product of its environment, this is probably it. Early single “1957” is the standout, and is sure to be Milo Greene’s calling card as they begin their inevitable rise to the top of alternative indie world. At three-and-a-half minutes, it encapsulates all that’s great about this band, and by the time it reaches its chanting, fist-pumping climax, you’re typing their name into Google to find out more.
Los Angeles based quartet Princeton are new to our radar, but seem to have been around for at least a little while – upon investigation it appears they’ve already had a full-length out; “Cocoon Of Love” through Brooklyn’s Kanine Records in 2009, which spawned a UK 7″ single in early 2010 (through Jodie & Victor) with their summer friendly track “Calypso Dreams”.
We came across them just the other day, thanks to the tip off from their producer Andrew Maury in the interview below. “To The Alps” is the first track we heard, and like all great music, hit us for the proverbial six. It’s a song that post dates the aforementioned LP, and is set to appear on the band’s second album “Remembrance Of Things To Come”, out in the US through Hit City USA shortly. It’s a laid back, and understated slice of electronica fused indie-pop, which reminds us of bands like The Whitest Boy Alive, Hot Chip and Royksopp – and possesses a melody and hook that is hard to forget after just a couple of listens.
Perhaps their apparent operating under the radar to date is down to lead singer Jesse Kivel’s moonlighting with side project Kisses, who were the subject of a fair amount of industry hype in the UK in 2010. However with more songs of this undeniable quality (and immediacy) there should be no shortage of plaudits for their sophomore effort – something that in an ideal world, will translate to commercial success.