Andrea Hoang and Jason Edelstein were tired. They had spent a long weekend in early October hauling film and group gear up a mountain somewhere northwest of Denver to shoot a video for the group. Bears and beasts.
Hoang, who along with Edelstein is one of the founders of Salt Lick discs –A new label from Salt Lick Denver, a creative team broadcasting live bands from a Denver basement – joked that they were trying to do a few more hikes before winter. Edelstein is not so sunny in his characterization of the shoot: “Shlepping gear up and down a mountain”.
“The group also had a good training,” he adds.
Edelstein sees the teamwork involved in the shoot as a good representation of what he and Hoang want the fledgling record company to be: a tight-knit team where everyone helps out and occasionally spends the weekends hauling gear.
Edelstein alludes to Tarantino’s verse: In this filmmaker’s work, characters from one movie can be referenced in another, and movies are full of Easter eggs and self-references. The same actors always seem to show up. Hoang and Edelstein envision groups playing together, appearing in each other’s videos, and forming an artist community that represents Denver’s creative spirit.
The Pond, the basement studio where the team records performances in a livestream called Songs From the Pond, begins to fill up with each band-specific material that might one day appear in another band’s video. They hope people will notice.
“We asked each artist to bring some sort of prop, like a sign or a stuffed animal, something they think represents them that will add to the space,” Hoang says. “[NPR’s] Tiny Desk has its shelves at the back with various items. We are building on that as well.
The Salt Lick currently has five artists on its roster: Bear and the Beasts, John Baldwin, Mlady, Silver Screen Fantasy, and Sponsored Content.
“We still hoped to someday create a record company,” says Edelstein. “With the vaccine rollout and the sites reopening, we were really able to celebrate what Salt Lick has done. It seemed like the right time to start doing it.
Bear Redmon, of Bear and the Beasts, says he has been working with the Salt Lick since January 2020. The band were among the first to play a streaming set in the Pond, when concert halls were closed due to of the COVID pandemic.
“It was very creative. They had just taken this basement they were drawing water from … and built all this kind of facility [where] they had cart tracking and everything, ”he says. “They took a bad situation and created a space where it not only could be done safely, but also done well.”
Redmon says he felt from the start the team was dedicated to making quality hardware and doing it in a spirit of collaboration.
“When you’re a musician, you hear about getting involved in a label [and] you’re a little hesitant, ”he said. “Images of Taylor Swift being tricked by people come to mind.”
Edelstein notes that bands don’t always have a reason to join a label these days, because releasing music independently is easier than ever. He and Hoang wanted to start a label in a different way. The Salt Lick Records focuses primarily on delivering the music of its artists, and the founders worked on mutually lasting contracts.
“The artists keep the majority of the income,” explains Edelstein. “They actually have the ability to share their income with each other, and we don’t have a hand in their creative decisions, the recording or the material. ”
Hoang points out, for example, that the Salt Lick provides its own sound engineer, but artists don’t have to use in-house services if they prefer to go elsewhere. “The option is there,” she said. “We are moving towards a label” favored to artists “. We’re here to bring their ideas and visions to life through our content creation and video production. ”
Over the past few months, the Salt Lick has forged relationships with artists and other local labels, further strengthening its presence on the Denver music scene, notes Hoang.
“Everyone has been very supportive and it’s nice to work with them,” she says. “With our skills in video, marketing and management, we are just able to start this. ”
Songs From the Pond has included more or less one set each month, and it seems to be a success so far.
“A lot of the artists we had in the sessions got to meet and network,” Hoang said. “We were able to bring them together at live events like our Underground Music Showcase Day party.”
Many Salt Lick bands first met that day, August 29, and took part in a “Super Jam” where they pulled names out of a hat and performed together, along with several unrelated bands. to the label.
“I can say they are excited to be working together,” Edelstein said of the jam session.
While there isn’t necessarily a “Salt Lick Records sound,” Edelstein says they’re looking for bands that write original material and bring something different to the Denver music scene.
Hoang adds that being exposed to so many artists during Songs From the Pond has been a blessing in recent months. She is thrilled to be working with the bands the label has signed so far.
“It’s definitely music that makes me want to listen to it again,” she says. “The amount of dedication, time and songwriting ability of these artists definitely stood out. Creativity and dedication is what I’m looking for.
Edelstein recalls that during the Songs From the Pond sessions, he and Hoang began to realize that once the live music returned, people would no doubt be eager to see national artists return to Denver. They hope their online presence will help inspire people to buy tickets to local shows and celebrate the wide array of music the city has to offer.
“We want these same people to be enthusiastic, checking out and proud of their local music scene,” concludes Edelstein. “We want to foster the kind of music scene in a city where people brag to their friends from out of town that we have such a big music scene.”
For more information visit thesaltlickdenver.com.