Comp Cover

California based label, Brickwood Records, released their debut compilation this month, which saw them team up with producers from all over the world. Entitled Complications; this body of music concocted by two musical connoisseurs is a sonically appeasing as it is progressive. Distributed independently on vinyl as well as CD and the more expected MP3 format, Complications, is geared to appeal to all, both in the way it is promoted as well as musically driven.

Speaking with one partner of the Brickwood Records label we found out a bit more about the project, how it came about and what encouraged emerging artist Josh Mays to design the cover for the album.

To check out the mixtape accompanying the project click on this link

How did the idea for “Complicated” come about?

It came about because my long time musical partner Jason Collins and I are both producers and wanted to give our music out at a local art gallery monthly street party here in Oakland.   So we gathered a handful of our tracks we each made, burned like 40 or so discs and printed some random labels off the computer, went out and handed them out. It was cool, nothing really came of those discs, but it made us think, why not make more compilations of our stuff and use it as a business card?   2 birds 1 stone kind of thing. As the idea grew, we asked one more producer friend to drop us a track or two, then another, and another. Soultec$ from Finland contributed a track and was the reason that Finnish producers NonPerson and Olpek are on there.   So it grew quick and organically, next thing we know, it was only a track from each Jason and I, all the rest other people and then we decided it all had to be originals, and unreleased, and at that point we realized that we should print this for real because it was all so good.

Was it easy putting this body of work together?

The short answer to that is that the album is called ‘Complications’ for good reason. At first it was easy, once we put the word out we were going to do this, it was no problem getting the music together. But not having any experience in the record industry, we thought “Oh yeah, lets just print CDs, brilliant!”   But it’s not like that. Ok, “Let’s get some really dope art”. Well good art isn’t cheap, or easy to match to a particular vibe, let alone 13 different vibes in one. But we met Joshua Mays and he is such a great artist. His art matched up perfectly.   I don’t know much about graphic design, but I end up doing most of it for Brickwood and all of my own stuff, for sake of easy and budget reasons, so I thought I’d just make his art into the album cover. Well that didn’t happen. It was really hard actually. People look at CDs and I don’t think they realize the amount of thought and time and energy that goes into it. So ok we get the whole package together, send it off to print and it’s all high fives.   Then after about 2 weeks of waiting for some word we get an email saying “Your album is ready for print, but is being held till we have the artist contracts and all the music is cleared” We were like WHAAAA!!? we have to do that? Yes!! welcome to the music industry, contracts, samples, legal and none, rights, masters etc. etc.   We just wanted to give our music out, and we didn’t go into collecting it under the context that there would be contracts with each artist.. it was very loose.   And the     were from all over the place, New York, Denver, France, Finland, Baltimore, Oakland and we had to go back after the fact and get all these guys to agree to and sign a proper Label/Artist Publication contract.. Ok easier said than done but we did our homework, and made it happen.. That was a huge set back, cost us at least 2 extra months, our project sat there dead on the press. In the time after sending off the CD for print and it actually printing, a few months, is when we were like well, this is so good, and we really feel like we have something here, we have put all this effort into doing it right, we love vinyl, and we have the whole package already ready, lets just print it to vinyl as well and really go for it.. pretty ambitious I know.   but we did.. again it wasn’t that easy.. The vinyl press (for good reason) goes over everything with a fine toothed-comb.   It’s twice as much money and labor intensive to print so they make 100% sure everything is perfect, and it heavy as shit to ship so it’s costly for a small indie.. send them art, then send it back. Send them music, the check exact song length , track order, side order, and send it back, resize the cover art, resize it again.. you get the idea.. oh yeah contracts! got those this time.   Well so that’s our experience in a nutshell, this is the funny part though.. Soultecs being from Finland, is fluent in English but had trouble saying ‘compilation’. Every time we would be talking about the compilation he would refer to it as the ‘complication’. I would always tell him to stop calling it that because I don’t want to jinx it or put that vibe into it. Didn’t matter. Soon it became quite the joke, and thus the name, because it was our learning curve and it was complicated

Do you feel that producers have reverted to being the behind the scenes guys they once were?

From the producer/DJ perspective Id say no, they’re more out front than ever. Every producer and their cat are trying to be on a stage playing their music out.   But from the label perspective, all of the tradition roles of the industry are so blurred, and yes those who fill the actual “producer” roles we rarely see.   Ask a laptop producer/DJ the tradition industry definition of an engineer, producer, publicist or even artist, and they probably don’t have a clear answer as 5 or 10 years ago, they’d probably just say “Me”.   Nowadays that person is all of those things by default and they don’t even know it.   As the artist, they write and conceptualize everything, as the person plugging the guitar and mic into their soundcard (remove the whole studio console and outboard gear rig) they are acting as the engineer, as the person directing the artistic vision into something a label would want, and that’s fit for the public, they are acting as the producer, and then sharing it on social media, getting it blogs etc. they are the publicist.   But being a producer at heart, in my ideal world (where my bills are all paid) it’s where I wish I was 95% of the time. Not out on a stage, not at parties all the time, and certainly not on social media.

‘Complications’ Promo Video
Where is the gap in the market for this type of project?

I don’t really see it in that context.   To me it’s more like a puzzle, yes there’s a gap when a piece is missing, but that piece is part and parcel of a larger picture that has already been created.   It would be like saying I’m gonna substitute this puzzle piece with a fork because its the next big thing, its totally different and its gonna change everything!   Rarely does an artist, label or vibe do that, and that’s not our goal.   Its to find what’s out there, artists and music already a part of the big picture that’s not getting the attention and credit it deserves, organize it and present it.   Find the piece of the puzzle and put it where it belongs.

The artwork is pretty dope, how did you link with Josh Mays?

Actually, through my neighbor. They are old friends from the Denver scene, and I had seen his work before. We wanted to do a group project for the Oakland Artwalk, and when we started in on the Comp project I thought his work would be perfect.  

Do you feel that creativity has to be apparent on every level when it comes to the execution of projects these days?

I feel that the more available creativity at any point of contact the better.   It’s so easy now for any person to make really quality music and put it out on the Internet.   You don’t need a multi million-dollar studio to get a viable sound. So, I think as the music world gets saturated and people’s attention spans for that music become smaller you need to make a bigger impact through any all media and contact with fans etc.

The creativity has to be very tangible in everything; we want people to really feel the vibe of what we are putting out.   Hopefully though, there is so much depth that everything isn’t obvious at that immediate point of contact.   My favorite records are the ones that ‘m still learning and discovering new things within after years of listening.

What was the procedure for securing the producers and artists, or was there a procedure even?

Like we said above, it was very organic and probably the easiest part of the whole process.   A big part of it was just reaching out and the rest fell into place from there.  

Is this a project that we may see additional volumes of?

There will definitely be more compilations in the future.   Whether we decide to call it ‘complications’ is up for discussion.   I think the next year is going to be very telling of the direction Brickwood is headed and I think that is going to answer many of those stylistic questions.   Since we started the process with this one so much has happened in the way of new artists on the label and I think the crew coming together now is going to really shape the future. We are really excited.

Break down the mantra for the label Brickwood, who are putting out this project for our readers please.

Play to win…not to not lose.   Ideally, for us, that means changing the world for the better through music and media as opposed to actually beating other people in a contest of some sorts.   It’s about an attitude of having fun, being confident and knowing that it is gonna be good no matter where the process is at in any moment.   As well, it means to be innovative and to really seek out new ideas and ways of doing things.

With so much emphasis on record deals these days, would you advise people to take the indie route yourself?

That really depends on the artist and their individual skills.   With the internet, a person can get their music to the world quite easily, but that is a double edged sword in that so many kids are doing that way and it is very hard to stick out of the crowd. If a person is really talented but has no idea how to promote themselves and bring their art to a larger audience then I say seek a label to help you out.   These days, it seems like labels represent crews more than business’s and I think it is valuable to have a crew to create and navigate with.

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