- Q & A with Emile Blair Milgrim of Other Electricities
Please give us a brief bio of the label. How did it start, til today….
Other Electricities essentially began as a post-rock band in Portland, OR (with a different name). We had some trouble retaining members, and after the band split the bass player contacted me about starting a record label. We dabbled in independent promotion for about a year or so to try and “learn the ropes,” then released our first full-length release, Sneaky Thieves – ‘Accident(s)’ in October 2006. In January 2011 I moved back to Miami and my label partner decided it was time for him to leave OE and focus on some other things. I’ve been running the label solo since then, with design and programming assistance from Aaron Powers, who’s been helping with that stuff for the better part of OE’s existence. To date our catalog is almost 50 releases deep.
Which labels inspired you most to make your own?
Kranky and Thrill Jockey are the two main labels that most inspired Other Electricities. Their catalogs are varied, representing multiple genres/styles. We sought to have that type of variation with OE from the get go. We’ve released country-tinged folk songs alongside doom metal, and lots of other styles in between. If anything, it’s parallel to the way many open-minded people (I hope) listen to music – not sticking to just one genre. One thing that bugged me a lot in high school, a very long time ago, was people asking “Are you a ‘rocker’ or a ‘rapper’?” I always thought “Why do you have to choose?” Not to mention rock and rap are only two blips when it comes to musical styles. Kids should never be led to think it’s that simple.
Which is the motto for Other Electricities?
“Sounds and the like…” This touches on the broad nature of what we release alongside our laid back approach to releasing it.
Which are the advantages and disadvantages of running a music label today?
The simple answer to both is The Internet. Back when we started, social media wasn’t as rampant, and people couldn’t put their music online as easily. It took a lot of physical work to get releases into the hands of reviewers, radio programmers, distributors, etc. There were a lot of long nights spent putting mailers together, a lot of expenses incurred, and full days of follow-up phone calls made on land lines (which cost extra for long-distance). You really had to WANT to do this. Now people can slap an album online in minutes, shoot off an email and have a track feature on a review site two days later. Obviously that’s an ideal and exaggerated scenario, but it’s technically possible. The caveat to that is millions of people are doing it and now, more than ever, so much gets lost in the shuffle, even things that would be reviewers and listeners might love. So much to sift through, it’s maddening.
Which are your future plans for the label?
We plan to keep releasing albums we’re proud of from artists whose sounds engage us at a pace that suits us financially and logistically. Appearance can sometimes be deceiving and OE is definitely a full-time hobby/”labor of love” deal. I work a full-time job as Managing Partner and Music Buyer for Sweat Records, make sounds and visual art, co-direct the Miami Girls Rock Camp, help maintain a shared household, and try to stay sane. Putting out records is just one piece of the puzzle and has to fit comfortably alongside everything else.
- Three distinctive Other Electricities releases
Jatun – ‘Jatun‘
This was our second release and we were OBSESSED with it. Having already released one full-length to results we were happy with, we felt on top of the world putting this one out and getting great feedback from reviewers all around the world. Jatun was doing this electronic/shoegaze thing that was very similar to what M83 was doing at the time, and that type of sound was very “new” then. It’s remained one of our best-followed albums to this day. Fun fact: we accidentally approved an incorrect proof of the album artwork and had to disassemble and reassemble two thousand copies to replace the liner notes in each one. That was a long night.
Holly Hunt – ‘Year One‘
When I moved back to Miami, I saw Holly Hunt’s name on a split tape released by Augurari. I ended up meeting the drummer, Beatriz (Betty) Monteavaro through seeing her play with another local band at the time, Beings. Eventually Holly Hunt started playing out regularly, and I’d go see them and became friendly with Betty and also Gavin Perry (the guitarist) while simultaneously being blown away by the incredible presence and overtaking energy of their live sound (“loud” is an understatement). There was a lot of wondering around town about who would put out their full-length album. I’d been making the assumption it would be Roofless Records, who were at the forefront of the Miami experimental scene at the time. I asked Matt from Roofless about it, and the final verdict was that OE and RR should do it together. A few months later, ‘Year One’ came out. It was incredible to be a part of such an important Miami release, especially having been new (again) to the Miami scene. We’ve released three Holly Hunt titles and are proud to have them in the catalog. Fun fact: we submitted and approved the CORRECT artwork for this one, but someone at the pressing plant decided it didn’t look right to them, so they made an edit without telling us. Because of this the physical and digital artwork have different layouts.
Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love – ‘Last‘
Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love is a band with a long name and perhaps an even longer backstory. I won’t tell it here, but instead fast-forward to their final release, ‘Last’, which came out a couple years after they broke up and was also the 5th title of theirs OE released. Having such an intricate history with them, I didn’t want this album to never see the light of day, and neither did Jamie Halliday from Audio Antihero, who was a big Low Low fan and also no stranger to releasing albums from defunct bands (see Nosferatu D2). He and I came together and released Low Low’s last (get it?) distorto-lo-fi noise-folk-ish offering knowing full-well we had little chance of people taking it too seriously. Luckily enough, it had an incredible run for being the final statement from a broken-up band no one had really ever heard of in the first place. Low Low is one of my favorite bands and I’m glad OE got to be a part of their existence. I like to joke that 20 years from now people will “discover” them and all the dead stock I’m sitting on will serve as a retirement fund.
Curated by: Christos Doukakis