Mandy Morgan’s whole life is immersed in Portland’s music scene: She plays bass with Nasalrod, and for her day job, Morgan works at local vinyl record manufacturer Cascade Record Pressing, overseeing quality control and making sure everything they produce is primed and ready for a good spin.
Along with her other pursuits, Morgan recently decided to start her own label called Nadine Records. Named after her grandmother, Nadine has hit the ground running, and is poised to deliver a vast array of Portland music to the rest of the world. Morgan couldn’t be more excited.
“I always had a dream to do [it],” she says. “Once I started working at Cascade, everything became a lot clearer to me. I could understand the process a lot more. I had the in. I was like, ‘This is just the perfect time to do this.’ I have this opportunity, and people that are willing to help me out and talk me through it. I feel really happy right now, because I’m in this nice place where everything I’m doing revolves around music. I’m pretty simple. I just want a cozy little niche to do my thing and be part of a cool community.”
For the most part, Morgan is running Nadine Records by the seat of her pants. She doesn’t plan to focus the label’s output on any particular genre.
“I kinda want it to be eclectic, because I like a lot of different stuff,” she says. “You know, focus more on stuff that maybe there really isn’t a place for right now. There’s enough [room] for all of us.”
To say Nadine’s releases have been eclectic is an understatement. The label’s first vinyl release was Nasalrod’s recent full-length Building Machines—an album that goes from punk to art rock to soul to outer space as easy as flipping a light switch. Second, Nadine released the post-punk heaviness of Stress Position’s self-titled LP.
“[They] really impressed me when I saw them live,” Morgan says. “I saw their first show, then their second show, and I saw a big improvement between the first and second shows. The more I would see them, they were better and better every time. I did that thing (she smiles and fist pumps), I was just like, ‘Uh, yeah!’ I got a heart boner for them!”
Nadine’s next release to drop is an artful and meditative collection of songs from Barry Brusseau called Quiet Please. Brusseau played guitar with Northwest punk rock legends the Jimmies, but this new project is nowhere near that band’s three-chord wheelhouse. Each of the record’s eight tracks features Brusseau’s baritone accompanied by a single instrument, from cello to moog synth to saxophone.
Morgan is pleased that Nadine is operating without a rudder—she’s just letting Portland’s lush musical landscape take her for an aimless ride.
“I like things to happen organically,” she explains. “That’s just how it’s been. This is my community of people—the people that have reached out to me, and the ones that I’ve felt inspired by. The other thing that’s kind of nice about how it’s gone so far, is that I know these people. So I can say, ‘I’m new at this. Be patient with me. We can work this out together.’”
The only problem Morgan’s encountered with Nadine is the overabundance of Portland music. After Brusseau’s masterpiece, expect to hear the spastic, destructive, hardcore grind of Born a Lot; the Tom Waits- and the Dead Milkmen-inspired rock ’n’ roll oddness of Marc and the Horse Jerks; and the weighted, fuzzy guitar riffs and screams of Hair Puller.
“That’s where the danger is for me,” Morgan says. “Maybe saying yes to too many things? I can say no, but I kinda don’t want to. I’m excited to be a part of making something exist that didn’t exist before. I know it’d probably find a way to exist without me, but it’s cool to be a part of it.”