For close to 10 years now, Badman Recordings has become one of the most well-respected, yet underrated, indie labels around. Focusing primarily, yet not exclusively, on "slow rock" and singer/songwriters, Badman artists (My Morning Jacket, Mark Kozelek, Hayden) all share a distinct level of quality and individual charm. Label founder Dylan Magierek talks about the label's history and their upcoming migration from San Francisco to Portland.
Can you give a quick history of the label?
I was recording bands out of a flat in the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco in the mid '90s. A band I recorded called the Cherries came in and we all were knocked out by the sounds and songs so we decided to release an album together. We had our first breakthrough album with a charitable release (Shanti Project Collection) benefiting a San Francisco HIV/AIDS assistance organization. It featured new and rare tracks from five like-minded (folks were calling it "slowcore," but I like the moniker "slow rock") bands—Red House Painters, Low, Hayden, Idaho, and my own project, Misc. That album sold well for us and began my relationship with Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters and Hayden. We started working with My Morning Jacket in 2002 and released their last indie CD, Chocolate and Ice, and now do vinyl for their major label releases.
What is the reason for making the move from San Francisco to Portland?
We've enjoyed being in San Francisco, and it's a tough place to leave, but we have friends in Portland and I know I always really liked it there. There's a peacefulness and the folks are more down to earth. I need that. It's interesting that you are the fourth person to want to interview us about moving up there, I doubt we would ever be interviewed by the press in San Francisco for moving here, or for leaving.
Badman seems to be the third or fourth indie label that has pulled up stakes and moved here in the past couple years. Since running a label can be a very difficult task, do you think that relocating here will help make the process any easier?
Well, it does seem like living is a little more down to earth in Portland. Maybe folks are a little more willing to get involved in projects and ideas.
I know you do recording studio work at Closer Recording, will you continue that up here?
I've been fortunate to record/produce artists like Erlend Oye [Kings of Convenience], Mark Kozelek, Call and Response, Low, and a number of other great bands. So, yes, I am very much looking forward to recording and producing bands up in Portland. I've been a lot more interested in some of the music coming from Portland than I've heard coming from other cities in the US. There are a lot of good bands in Portland right now. If any want to talk about recording together...