Selective Listening: Notes from the Desk of the General Manager, October 2015
“And the stars fell over Michigan…”
Andy Kotowicz was Sub Pop’s VP of Sales and Director of Marketing and also worked in our A&R Dept. with bands like The Baptist Generals, A Frames, Mudhoney, Comets on Fire, Fruit Bats, Pissed Jeans, Damon & Naomi, Vetiver, Shabazz Palaces, Radio Birdman, Wolf Eyes, and Michael Yonkers. He worked here from 2000 to 2010, through a crazy, exciting time for the label. Lacey did a great “People Who Work Here” interview with him back in 2007.
And, five years ago this month, way too goddamned soon, our co-worker and friend died as a result of injuries he sustained in a car accident. I don’t think I have anything especially new or helpful to add about the loss of a loved one, or anything all that insightful about the inexorableness of time. It’s frightening to me to mark the passing of these last five years in the knowledge that we only knew each other for ten. And, I worry about the gradual fade of my Andy memories.
So! For my own benefit and for the benefit of people who didn’t get to know him (there are several of them here at Sub Pop now), let’s go over a few. While we’re now, as a company and as just a group of people, definably less for his absence, we are, absolutely without a doubt, so much more, so much better for the time we had. Here’s some of the stuff I’m grateful for and the ways in which Andy still influences what Sub Pop is and what (I think…) we want to keep working to become.
And though there are a million of these, I’m not deluded enough to presume that kind of sustained attention. So here are five…
Let’s have a good time with this. What we do here should be fun, and he was the funniest guy. A few, quick examples… The Northwest Pole, as I kept trying to get him to be known around the office, almost exclusively and altogether affectionately referred to Vetiver’s album Tight Knit as Ted Knight. He thought that the next Palin baby should be named Cram, Twig or maybe Pep Rally. He helped create stuff like this and also this.
Mix it up sometimes. He was unafraid of saying what he really thought, sometimes blowing his top. Andy would often fake this for effect, knowing he had a reputation. But, that rep was based on real stuff, strongly-held feelings. I was in one memorable meeting in which he said to a co-worker, flat-out, “Listen: I don’t fucking work for you.” Come to think of it, that’s at least a little bit of number 1, too…
Please to enjoy. He loved lunch and also wine. Us too. That’s it. (Zingerman’s: I am coming for you, sooner or later…)
Love it to death. He had a prodigious, wide-ranging and just wholly enthused love of music. The above list of artists he worked with here is way more than proof enough. But! He was also the ad hoc reggae buyer for Easy Street Records here in Seattle (paid in store credit), and a heartfelt advocate for music he loved, regardless of any affiliation with Sub Pop. The following email to the entire staff about Eddy Current Suppression Ring playing in Seattle is a good example of that spirit: “Hey guys! Just wanted to recommend going to see them at Vera with the Helpers tonight! Caught them at the Funhouse last night and they were fucking unreal! For those who don’t know, they are Australian and have never been to Seattle before, so this is a really rare treat. Turn this opportunity yes. Do the job. Go see this band tonight. Do it. You will be so glad you did.” Why would anyone say no to that??
Don’t be so predictable. Sadly unlike an awful lot of people, he could hold two seemingly opposing thoughts at the same time. In addition to the Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Demdike Stare and The Equals, he also loved Beyonce. He would regularly surprise me with his insights and perspective on work stuff, both about how we as a record label behave out in the world and how we operate as an organization internally. He had a Devo energy dome at his desk AND a Bo Schembechler bobblehead. (This is an excellent opportunity to confirm that we are, really, putting out a 7-LP box set from Eugene Mirman which includes, among other things, a full 45-minute LP of crying. This is not fake.)
I think of and miss him regularly. We have been very lucky.
Celebrate Rocktober-wicz, gang.