As 2016 finally
limps to a close, we’re happy to provide you the pleasant distraction of this the November edition of thee No Fly List! This month’s dispatch is stuffed with plenty of
product placement and peppered with the sort of almost-humor you might expect from a tippling uncle
at Thanksgiving. In what follows we’re going to explore what is perhaps Sub Pop’s most well-known, provocative, overused, and frequently misunderstood expression: “LOSER.”
If you have been keeping up with No Fly List posts from Sub Pop’s airport store since the beginning, you’ve probably wondered what our fourth most asked question is! (See top three FAQ’s)
Wonder no more! It’s “What is loser, and why loser?” (Which, yes, is kind of actually two questions, but they’re related and we’re calling the shots here, so deal with it.) Let’s dig in…
According to LOSER; the recently expanded book by Clark Humphrey that chronicles the diverse Seattle
sound and punk scene, it’s, “a statement
of defiance against the yuppies’ obsession with ‘winners.’” The term “LOSER” or “losers of the music industry” was a
reaction to corporate industry driven trends and views.
First developed/stumbled upon in the summer of 1988, “LOSER” made its way onto a Sub Pop t-shirt that very year. Consistent with the label’s aesthetic embrace of apathy (and characteristic
of the time), images were sporadically
misprinted, contained gaps, and sometimes were even screened in reverse. You can scope photos of the original “LOSER” shirt in such books asEverybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by
Mark Yarm, and Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe by Bruce Pavitt.
In grunge speak, courtesy of Sub Pop’s current CEO Megan Jasper back when she was still the label’s receptionist, a
loser is a “cob nobbler.” And, the greeting “Dear Loser” was used
endearingly in the infamous Sub Pop rejection letters of the early
nineties. The term was later used to market a
Sorachi Ace-forward American pale ale developed in Seattle by local brewery
Elysian. It’s also a term used in the card game contract
So that’s why Loser Editions! And, why don’t you
have Bloom, Fear Fun, or King Tuff on colored wax? It might be because you didn’t pop in to the Sub Pop store at SeaTac. The Sub Pop airport
shop is often the last place you might be able find one of these limited
slick discs before they hit the wicked online aftermarket. When the pre-sale is sold out and the stash at your favorite shop has dwindled to nothing, your Loser Edition might just be one
plane ticket away.
More “LOSER” related fact and fiction…
One of the earliest
singles I’ve scored since becoming a Sub Pop employee is TAD’s long-out-of-print 7” single for “Loser” b/w
“Cooking With Gas” (SP55). While this release was limited to
3,000 copies on a green transparent vinyl 7”, both tracks are now available on the deluxe
edition reissue of 1990’s Salt Lick. The 45 has a killer back cover by celebrated local cartoonist
Peter Bagge, which exists now on a fine black t-shirt.
Are we forever going on about “LOSER” this and “LOSER” that because of the Beck
song? Fuck no! Beck was/is not on Sub Pop. He did, however, put out the 1994 release One Foot in the Grave on Olympia-based label K Records (the latter day reissue of which is occasionally stocked on vinyl in the
‘non-Sub Pop’ section of the airport store with the rest of the PNW titles and related
Life as a “LOSER” is not for everyone. Tourists regularly walk by the store and stare. Some stop and think out-loud how unsuitable something like this would be for
their youngster. Others imagine their
choice of relative sporting a big, bold “LOSER” (as punishment or gift, who can say?). For those daring and/or proudly unambitious enough to let their “LOSER” flag fly, however… As the holiday season approaches, this charming stocking awaits, (available online only!), as does a great heap
of othershit that saysLOSER on it.
Now if you don’t have any other questions; beat
MASSIVE thank yous and good lucks to everyone who applied for the 2014 Sub Pop Loser
Scholarship. We received applications from hundreds of extremely worthy PNW-based high school seniors who are involved in the arts, which gave us a feeling of hope for the future of humanity, something we had little of beforehand. Pouring over all of the applicants’ essays and works of art was a colossal undertaking, but ultimately, we have chosen the winners. So without further ado, here are your Losers….
Landyn Pan - 1st Place LOSER
From Bothell, WA
Landyn RULES. He creates political photography and infographics, or in his words “conceptual pieces surrounding topics like women’s reproductive rights, current/contemporary racism, governmental corruption, and body image vs societal expectations.” In
addition to creating thought provoking artwork, he is engaged in an array of LGBTQ
activism from running his high school’s Gay Straight Alliance to
offering up his graphic design skills for the Trans Student Equality
All of us in the Loser Scholarship committee felt like Ryan really got what Sub Pop’s Loser Scholarship is all about. He’s not only a
musician in rad band Thee Samedi, but he worked countless hours fostering his community as
an intern at Ground Zero, a DIY all ages venue in Bellevue and
volunteered many hours to increasing awareness about the LGBTQ
community, at Lambert House and various other venues.
wowed us with the diversity of her portfolio–from photography to
installation work–much of which she has displayed at the Bellevue Arts
Museum as well as other galleries. We were also charmed to death by her
all-girl punk band,
meimei. In addition to being a notably well-rounded and immensely
talented artist and musician,
she has donated her time to fostering the DIY community on the Eastside
(that’s what Seattleites call the land across Lake Washington) as an
intern at Ground Zero Teen Center. She also founded the Local
Music Club at her high school and booked local bands to perform for the
You have likely noticed, savvy internet shopper, that we’re currently smack-dab in the midst of our annual “20’s Plenty Holiday Sale” here at SubPop.com, which gives you 20% off your entire purchase of $20 or more…
Because these handsome stockings are available both as a free gift with orders over $100 (after discounts & shipping) and for sale on their own for $15, they will definitely sell out quickly! So, bear that in mind when considering your ownership options here. Snoozing may very well equate to losing.
The Losers have won! We here at Sub Pop HQ have been toiling away for the past couple of months trying to find the three Losers most worthy of winning our scholarship and we are finally ready to announce the Loser winners. With close to 300 submissions by a variety of awesome youth throughout the northwest, this process was not easy for us. It is tough to cull 99% of the applicants to just the top three, we thank all of the awesome Losers out there and are happy to see so many freak flags waving high in the sky. Now onto the Losers:
Our $3000 scholarship winner is Evan Neuhausen of Portland. Evan is an amazing organizer and fundraiser in the Portland music community who has helped get big name bands to support the arts in Portland Public Schools. Volunteering for the Music In The Schools non-profit, Evan has worked as the President of the organization for the past two years helping to raise tens of thousands of dollars through fundraising benefit shows with awesome local bands. When not in school or volunteering Evan interns for the Tender Loving Empire record label and works with the PDX Pop Now festival. Upon graduation Evan will be leaving the Pacific Northwest and headed to NYU, where hopefully he’ll become an even bigger Loser.
Our $4000 prize goes to the gifted Jamie Iwata. Multi-talented and very gifted, Jamie is a testament to how music can change people’s lives. Since he was a kid Jaimi has turned to music as a way to find self expression, now as a young adult Jaimi uses choir, his band The Great Train Robbery, and his friends from the Portland School of Rock to get his ya ya’s out. The sheer amount of vocal talent, musicianship, and eclectic musical interests combined with Jamie’s awesome attitude make us here at Sub Pop very excited to support such a wonderful Loser. After graduating Oregon Connections Academy, Jamie will continue his education at the University of Colorado where he’ll be majoring in vocal performance.
Our $6000 Loser is the ever-so-talented musician/journalist Mary Ruiz. Through her writing and her music, Mary has carved out a unique identity in her local community and found a perfect niche to grow up while also giving back. Cutting her teeth at the Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls, Mary grew confidence as a youngster learning to perform and be herself. Now as a young adult she helps the next generation of young talented Losers by volunteering her summers as a roadie, guitar instructor, and mentor with the RNRCFG. Whether through her band Guadalupe, or her blog, or even her reporting as a student journalist Mary makes a calculated effort to reach out and positively influence the lives of others. As our newest Loser winner we’ll be helping Mary pursue and further her career in journalism at Mills College with this $6000 college scholarship.
Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all that applied. Every year we get to see just how many talented, freaky, weird, cool young people that are out there in the woods and hollows of the northwest and every year we get more and more impressed. Keep up the good work young folks, thank you for inspiring us once again, we’ll see you Losers again around this time next year.
Sub Pop Records in Seattle, WA is offering a grand total of $13,000 worth of college scholarship money to three eligible high school seniors. There are three scholarships—one for $6,000, one for $4,000 and one for $3,000. To apply for these scholarships you must be a resident of Washington or Oregon, and a graduating senior on your way to full-time enrollment at an accredited university or college. We are looking for an applicant who is involved and/or interested in music and/or the creative arts in some way.
To apply for these scholarships we would like you to submit an essay, no longer than one page, letting us know about one or more of the following topics:
What are you doing in the arts/music field in your community?
How and/or why did you become interested in artistic outlets?
How would this scholarship money help you to progress in your chosen field?
What are your influences and/or who inspires you? Who are some of your favorite bands or artists?
Applicants are strongly encouraged to send digital links and/or provide hard copies of their artwork along with their essay (we have never had a winner who submitted only an essay). However, please be aware that Sub Pop will not return any of this material, so please don’t send originals. Sub Pop will give equal opportunity to all applicants who fit the criteria outlined above. The deadline for applications is May 6th.
Please send all submissions and attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 6th, 2013. We will announce the scholarship winners on May 20th.
All physical submissions should be sent to:
Sub Pop Records
2013 4th Ave, 3rd Floor
Seattle, WA 98121
Amount: $6,000 / $4,000 / $3,000 — checks will be made payable to the university or college of the winning applicants’ choice and applied to winning applicants tuition.
Back by popular-ish demand (popular among the staff here at Sub Pop HQ at least), we’ve got three, brand new, heavy-duty cotton tote bags available for just $12 each. These bags were designed with you, the record-buying people of this world in mind. Though they can fit any number of types dry goods, they were, at least a little bit, designed to fit a healthy handful of vinyl LPs very, very well. They’re available in three colors, get yours here.