Last Thursday independent record label Kemado Records hosted a holiday party at their new studio space in Greenpoint with a special live studio set from folk singer Langhorne Slim. Sighted in the crowd of music people and partygoers were an assemblage of knit hats, long hair, beards, a baby, vintage dresses and flannel, and no fewer than two prominent mustaches. The DJs early on spun a selection of light rock from the 1970’s—Steely Dan’s “Any Major Dude Will Tell You” was one of the memorable songs played and the Grateful Dead’s “In the Dark” album was seen being considered, though ultimately left unspun. The space itself was capacious and possessing of a minimalist aesthetic and beauty—high ceilings, cinder blocks, salvaged wood beams and hardwood floors of some rich, dark wood. The accommodations were welcoming. The open bar, stocked with plenty of Miller High Life and Jack Daniels.
Around 10pm Langhorne Slim took the stage, accompanied by his band, which included Malachi DeLorenzo on drums, new bass player Jeff Ratner and a keyboardist/banjoist. The set varied between rollicking bluegrass-y numbers to plaintive ballads. “I’m sick, so I don’t have much of a voice,” said Slim, toward the end of the set. “If you want your $50 back you can get it either Saturday or Sunday.” He kicked into the next song.
Kemado Records, whose roster includes the aforementioned Slim, Swedish psyche-rockers Dungen and folk singer Marisa Nadler, was founded by Tom Clapp and Andres Santo Domingo in 2002, in New York. The label moved its current location on 87 Guernsey Street in Greenpoint in February 2009. “We were rapidly outgrowing our old space,” explained Keith Abrahamsson, Kemado’s representative for A&R. “[The] space was a literal maze of boxes that we worked around.” In addition to housing Kemado’s studio, warehouse and offices, the new building is home to four other labels: Kemado’s vinyl imprint Mexican Summer (named after a Marissa Nadler song), Captured Tracks, Minimal Wave and Sacred Bones, as well as a recently opened storefront on the ground floor called Co-op 87, featuring vinyl from the five labels, as well as special limited edition releases unavailable elsewhere. “Our new space feels so much more like we’re part of a community of likeminded folks,” said Abrahamsson.
While it’s been a productive year for the label—they put out nearly thirty records this year—it’s an admittedly difficult time for the music industry, what with continued illegal downloading and leaks of new albums, not to mention the economic downturn. “I think we’re just trying to keep realistic goals in mind,” said Abrahamsson. “We try not to spend money where it seems unnecessary and just keep as much work as possible in-house. We’re really just trying to be as self-sufficient as we can—hence the studio, record shop, direct shipping to retail, etc.” Laughed Abrahamsson, “We’re prepared for the fallout!”
Upcoming releases from Kemado/Mexican Summer include s/t by The Soft Pack (available on CD/LP), Moonblood by Fraction (2xLP), Reality by Real Estate (12” EP), and Music and Dreams by Robert Lester Folsom (LP), all of which will be available for purchase on vinyl or digital at www.mexicansummer.com and www.kemado.com.