One of the highlights, for me, of my zine-editor days came when I found myself in the basement of Brownies circa 2000, moderating a conversation between Tracy Wilson and Caithlin De Marrais. At the time, De Marrais was making music as one-third of Rainer Maria, while Wilson’s band Souvenir had begun playing shows around New York City; like her previous group Dahlia Seed, they had an utterly transfixing blend of righteous anger and blistering pop hooks. In the years since then, Wilson moved to Richmond, Virgina and, together with two friends, recently started Little Black Cloud Records. Her long-in-the-works solo debut Decimal, recorded under the name Ringfinger, saw release last year and includes contributions from members of dÃ¤lek, Isis, Sunn 0))), and Engine Down. (Also, it’s damn good.)
[Previous interviews in this series can be found here.]
What led to the formation of Little Black Cloud Records?
The birth of the label began with my solo record (Ringfinger / Decimal) and truthfully and me not having the patience or ego to pitch myself to some other label in hopes they would want to sign me. After so many years of working in the music industry I was fortunate enough to have the knowhow and connections to self release my record as well as have distribution for it. The goal was never to be a full blown label but when I heard Cinemasophia I instantly wanted to release the record. As fate would have it two friends were interested in forming a label around the same time so suddenly we had our first band on the label (besides me) and a few other projects in mind for release in 2009. In a nutshell is was really Cinemasophia that kicked us into high gear as a label.
The vinyl/digital release configuration that I’ve seen on your site seems to be growing in popularity these days (Comedy Minus One also comes to mind) — as the structure of the label came together, was this something you had in mind from the start?
Yes. The one thing I have learned from working in music sales is that large pressings of CDs is relatively pointless unless you are a very popular and well established band (Animal Collective, M Ward) on a name brand label (Sub Pop, Merge, Matador) For new developing artists and start up labels it really makes more sense to begin with digital releases with tiny runs of CDRs and if there is momentum behind the group as they tour, earn more fans, build a press buzz, then you release it on vinyl. Vinyl isn’t cheap to produce so like any physical product you really have to be certain there is a market for it meaning there are fans out there to buy it. The economy is too sluggish to risk pressing anything that could potentially just sit in a warehouse or living room corner. The great thing with the digital format is there is very little overhead to get it out to people and for a new band or label, every penny spared is important. Thanks to the internet bands and labels can connect to music fans quickly and easily. It’s truly amazing how you can post a song on line and it can reach people’s ears all around the world literally seconds later.
I saw that Ringfinger has its first show coming up, with a tour to follow — how are you arranging the songs for a live setup?
It is with a bit of trepidation that I say this. I am singing to track (the instrumental versions of my songs) on this tour. There isn’t going to be a band because (a) all of the original players on my record are in profitable bigger bands who are always busy and on the road – in turn making it impossible to pin them down for a small tour where they probably won’t be making any money and (b) I dreaded the thought of trying to build a band from scratch. To make it a little more interesting than just a woman singing to her iPod I am working with the artist Chris Milk to help me recreate my living room via a theatrical set. I want the audience to feel like I am performing for them in my home (a more intimate setting than your typical show) so my goal is to have some people sitting on stage with me. I might bribe people with snacks at each show. I am still working out the details now so who knows what surprises are in store, ha!
Are there plans for a second album? If so, are you looking for a similar collaborative feel to the first?
A new record is in the works but it isn’t a Ringfinger record. It will be called Drekkingarhylur and it is a collaboration between myself and Runhild Gammelsaeter (solo artist / Thorr’s Hammer / Khlyst). I don’t suspect however this record will see the light of day this year. More than likely it will be early 2010.
Via the Dahlia Seed website, a lot of your musical history is readily accessible. Do you find that that’s helped as far as making people more aware of Ringfinger?
Perhaps a little but Dahlia Seed was such a cult thing that I don’t feel like all that many people have come across Ringfinger from that direction. Honestly I believe it is more likely that fans of all the musicians who played on my record (Isis, Sunn 0))), Cave In…) found me though the gossip circles of those bands. Maybe this is my lack of ego at work here but I feel like the attention Decimal has been given to date is much more about the line up of the players on the record rather than me, the singer from Dahlia Seed.