exchange sparks new in-flight partnership with Sub Pop Records
BY KEEGAN PROSSER for Alaska Airlines
Looking for something fresh and exciting to do during your
next flight? Then Alaska has some good news for you. Beginning this month, the
airline is partnering with Seattle’s Sub Pop Records to bring some of the
label’s best music onboard – for free.
Launched with Beach House’s latest
album Thank Your Lucky Stars on
February 1, the new program offers fliers the chance to listen to one
complimentary featured Sub Pop title per month on Alaska Beyond Entertainment,
Alaska’s direct-to-your-device inflight entertainment service, and two albums
per quarter on the rentable tablets.
“We didn’t have inflight entertainment on most of our
flights until about a year and a half ago,” says David Scotland, manager of inflight
entertainment and connectivity for the airline, adding that one of Alaska’s
priorities is to ensure that customers aren’t receiving “plain vanilla anything”
aboard its flights. “We have our own unique way of designing every experience of
travel – from locally sourced food to space-enhancing seats and now music,” he
continues, noting that the record label takes a similar approach in curating
its artists. “And Sub Pop is a way for us to do that in the music and
The partnership itself came about when a former Sub Pop
employee was on an Alaska flight and tweeted to ask why the two companies
weren’t working together. Soon after, the Twitter conversation turned into a
real plan of action.
“There’s definitely a big appeal for doing something
specifically with Alaska,” notes Chris Jacobs, General Manager of Sub Pop
Records. “Because Sub Pop is so overtly and proudly associated with the region,
and so is Alaska, it makes sense.” According to Jacobs, albums selected for the streaming and
tablet platforms are based on timeliness and appeal to a variety of listeners,
with March’s featured album set to be Shearwater’s latest
release Jet Plane and Oxbow. “The music we put out can range pretty widely, from
relatively accessible to relatively not,” Jacobs says of the label. “So we are
trying to focus on bands at the more accessible end.”
In that spirit, Shearwater frontman Jonathan Meiberg sees
the inflight entertainment platform as a great way to gain new fans. “My hope is that the record feels accessible and friendly on
first listen but has enough depth and detail that you’ll want to play it
again,” he explains of the project, which pairs dreamy indie rock with punchy
‘80s synths. “We spent many weeks laboring over the texture and colors of the
sounds.” He also sees it as a great alternative for his music to be
consumed. “I’m just glad for the chance to reach people who might
never hear our music otherwise.”
And fellow Sub Pop artist Cullen Omori, whose solo
debut New Misery will be featured on
Alaska flights in April, shares the sentiment. “There’s no better audience,” says the former Smith Westerns
vocalist, whose collection of genre-bending pop rock cuts hits stores March 18.
“You have a captive audience that’s stuck on a plane for X amount of hours. And
so, there’s no better time to pitch them some music to listen to.”
As Scotland points out, teaming up with local brands such as
Sub Pop, the Seattle International Film Festival, fashion designer Luly Yang and Tom Douglas restaurants enables Alaska to deepen the
relationship it’s built with core customers and provide them with a piece of
home. “One of the things that our customers from the Seattle area
tell us very often is that they feel like they’re already home when they get on
the plane, and there’s a comfort there.” But it also leaves a lasting impression with customers who
may be flying in the region for the first time. “There is something cool and unique about the PNW,” he
continues. “We do march to the beat of our own drum. We’re not like the rest of
the country. And being an airline, we get to introduce a lot of people to some
of the best parts of the Pacific Northwest.”
- - - - -
Guest Writer Keegan Prosser is a full-time pop culture junkie and part-time freelance music journalist who is based in Seattle and has contributed to Seattle Weekly and RollingStone.com. When she’s not writing about Justin Bieber for radio prep service ReelWorld.com, Keegan flies Alaska to cities with good food, great people and exceptional live music.
Sub Pop Records in Seattle, WA is offering a grand total of $15,000 worth of
college scholarship money to three eligible
high school seniors. There are three scholarships—one
for $7,000, one for $5,000 and one for $3,000. As longtime and proud losers
ourselves, we’re exceedingly happy to be able, in some small way, to help
further the education of art-enthused misfits from the NW.
Applicants 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
applicants who are involved and/or interested in music and/or the creative arts
in some way. However, you do not need to be pursuing an education in the arts.
To apply you must submit an essay, one page or less, using any combination
of the following questions as a guide (or write something completely your own,
be inspired and creative!). Please list the school you are graduating from and
the school you plan to attend in the fall at the top of your essay along with
your contact information.
- What are you doing in the arts/music field in your community?
- What does being a Sub Pop ‘Loser’ mean to you?
- What are your influences and/or who inspired you to become involved in the
- Describe your biggest failure
and explain how it has brought you closer to your goal(s).
- Discuss a special attribute or accomplishment that sets you apart.
- How has your family or community background affected the way you see the
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 Sunday, March 20th.
Please send all submissions and attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org by
March 20th, 2016. We will announce the scholarship winners on April 12th.
The Staff of the Sub Pop Airport Store Pick Their Favorite Light in the Attic Releases
Beginning this month, the Sub Pop Airport Store has unveiled its newest addition: a staff picks section! On a semi-regular basis, we, the illustrious and expert curatorial airport store staff, will be highlighting and showcasing different albums that we really, really, really, like. For our inaugural staff picks, we decided to all choose albums from Light in the Attic, a Seattle record label that specializes in re-issuing criminally under-appreciated music. In honor of this being our first round of staff picks, I asked my fellow co-workers, “Why did you pick the album that you picked?” Here’s what they said…
(Be sure to check out the Spotify playlist down below, which contains our favorite tracks from these albums.)
Betty Davis: Betty Davis
Audrey says: “Betty Davis is a psychedelic funk queen who pushed boundaries and broke stereotypes in the name of self expression. With the encouragement of T-Rex singer Marc Bolan, she switched from writing songs for others to songwriting for herself. This self titled album released in 1973 is the first of three albums that are so freaky and badass, religious groups protested her shows and radio stations banned some of her songs. She was really a musician ahead of her time.”
Lizzy Mercier Descloux: Press Color
Rachel says: “I first found Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s Press Color in a rare record store super score! Someone had sold a bunch of their no wave/Ze Records titles like Contortions, Mars, and Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. Press Color was one of my favorites because it’s so fun and danceable. Thanks to Light In The Attic Records for reissuing this great record!”
The Free Design: Stars/Time/Bubbles/Love
Josh says: “Funk-filled, family friendly, kite flying, wholesome harmonies, only god itself could have reissued as heavenly a record. But since god is not real, it must be the goodly folks at Light in the Attic and to them I give thanks and praise.”
Monks: The Early Years 1964-1965
Jacob says: The Monks’ 1966 one-off album Black Monk Time is an out of time, anti-Vietnam war, proto-art-rock oddity, made by some forward thinking discharged American GI’s stationed in Germany (playing and honing their skills at some of the same wild nightclubs the Beatles had made a name for themselves in a few years prior), that while probably not being directly influential, at the very least predicted, and works as a critical jump-off point for a lineage of still to come conceptual agitating greats like Devo and the Residents. I would consider the album an artistic equal to Zappa’s Freak Out!, also from 1966, and a distant relative to more recently recognized, and ahead of their time, Los Saicos, from Peru.
This brings me to my Light In The Attic showcase selection: Monks’ The Early Years.
At first, a listener familiar with Black Monk Time may be slightly disappointed with these demos lack of finished lyrics, or all out vocal assaults found on the album proper. But that is actually part of the strength and distinction that makes the demos these GI’s made so very interesting; the sheer chunky rhythmic monotony and minimalist organ-preset style jungle-tom drumming, and what I see as the secret ingredient to their sound: the snare drum doubled up by nearly-indiscernible, textural muted banjo strikes. All of this is to the forefront on these demos. The Stooges had their single repetitive piano note through a song, and the Monks had their transparent banjo, damn it! To put this all in context, the Monks pre-date the full swing of Jazz Rock Fusion, and Progressive rock drumming; it would be another 6-7 years until Krautrock bands learned to unlearn and play-on-purpose the simplified, minimal, ‘Motorik’ beat. I sincerely wonder if whoever it was who approached CAN’s Jaki Leibezeit and profoundly stated “you must play monotonous” had been lucky enough to have seen the Monks do it first.”
Honey Ltd: The Complete LHI Recordings
Kane says: “Good harmonies.”
Public Image Ltd: First Issue
Olivia says: “PiL broke the punk paradigm with this first album. Punk was now carte blanche, not just a sped up tempo with a fashion shtick. I can’t listen to this without thinking about how Seattle was channeling punk on its own terms years later. I think we were really inspired by this post-punk freedom! Punk rock should ALWAYS be about freedom. That includes being free to call out any particular icon, steal their booze and comfy chair, and throw salami on their bus if necessary…”
Marcos Valle: Marcos Valle
Javier says: “I just really like the flavors presented here. Thumpy, warm melodic bass lines, very chill vocals, mostly in Portuguese, tasteful touches of piano chords and the drumming is just straight up groovy. I have no idea what these songs are about but there are some really delightful flute bits and psychedelic touches sprinkled throughout. Just a solid little nugget of good Bossa Nova made in 1970. Sign me up!”
Various Artists: I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age In America, 1950-1990
Ben says: “Trading in the ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll’ for crystals, eastern philosophies and incense (and well, ok, maybe not trading away all of the drugs…) New Age wasn’t about fame and fortune. Instead, it explored the boundaries of music: From Gregorian chants to gongs, and from chimes and bells to synths. I Am The Center covers 40 years of New Age, focusing mostly on home-made recordings and unheralded-in-their-own-time artists. (While also leaving out soft heavy hitters like Yawni and Enya (a.k.a, the soundtrack to my childhood road-trips)). Let these CDs help you open your third eye, align your chakras, or even relax while paying your taxes (if possible).”
Various Artists: Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985
I say: “Vancouver-based record archaeologist Kevin “Sipreano” Howes spent 15 years searching for music from the Indigenous peoples of Canada and the northern United States, and Native North America is the culmination of his efforts. Taking cues from the genres of “folk, rock, and country” that ruled over popular music in the latter half of the 20th century, you will hear Arctic garage rock from the Nunavik region of northern Quebec, melancholy Yup’ik folk from Alaska, and hushed country blues from the Wagmatcook First Nation reserve in Nova Scotia, among many other sounds and locales. Listening to this staggering compilation reminds me of the work that Bruce Pavitt did with the original Sub Pop fanzines, scouring for artists outside of the major cultural hubs of North America, and discovering vibrant, enriching, and totally unique regional music.”
Various Artists: Summer Records Anthology (1974-1988)
Chase says: “Summer Sound Studios was a Toronto-based record label started by Jerry Brown that produced some of the first notable Canadian reggae artists. This compilations covers releases from ‘74-‘88 and includes alternate masters and some previously unheard takes, all of which are really great! Stand out tracks include, “Right, Right Time,” “Warrior,” and “Dreadlock Lady”. A must buy if you’re trying to warm up this winter.”
Alan Vega, Alex Chilton, Ben Vaughn: Cubist Blues
Brent says: “Coming from a vinyl completest of all things Big Star and Suicide, it took a LITA reissue to finally bring “Cubist Blues” to my ear holes. Not to mention It was only pressed once in Spain twenty years ago and would set you back at least a hundred bucks. I discovered Alex’s Chilton’s output from the 1980’s and began to avoid it for the most part. I admire the company he kept and his taste for self-destruction: if you haven’t seen the footage of his performance with the Panther Burns live on the Marge Thrasher show, do so now: https://youtu.be/2U-k32L0KCc
I can’t help but think of one of Gene Vincent’s last albums, I’m Back and I’m Proud, when listening to “Cubist Blues”, which was produced by Kim Fowley, who also collaborated with Ben Vaughn. I want to think of this as a ‘art rock’ record, but that might just be the fact that Vega is a sculptor and Chilton’s parents owned a gallery. This is my pick of this month mostly because I usually only want to listen to Suicide, and so I figured I’d see what happened.”
Mass Gothic’s self-titled debut is out tomorrow! The group will kick-off their 2016 headlining tour in support of the album, with a show tonight, Thursday, February 4th in Philadelphia at Johnny Brenda’s. Tour ends on March 19th in Austin at SXSW. Support for the tour (February 4th -25th) will come from fellow NYC band Mazed (Autre Ne Veut affiliates, ex-Bear in Heaven, Zambri). Scroll down for all the dates.
The band recently shared an official video for “Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me”, the iridescent lead single. The exuberant visual, directed by Addison Post (Colleen Green, Solvey), follows group members Noel Heroux and Jessica Zambri on a night out in Manhattan (watch it here).
Mass Gothic and tourmates Mazed have also teamed up to release “March of the Cigs” / “Ronette,” a 7” split-single.
Mass Gothic’s “March of the Cigs” is featured on the A-side, and was produced by the band, mixed by Chris Coady, mastered by Greg Calbi. Meanwhile Mazed’s “Ronette” is on the B-side, and was produced by the group, with additional engineering by Rick Kwan, mixing by the group and Josh Ascalon, and mastered by Joe LaPorta.
You can listen to both songs now via Mass Gothic’s Bandcamp page (with Mazed’s “Ronette” also available for download). Listen here.
What people are saying about Mass Gothic:
“Don’t let the name Mass Gothic trick you into thinking the record is a spiral into sadsackism. Each song carries its own weight unreliant and wholly different from the track that came before it, creating a collection of different modes of music and feeling. Songs like “Nice Night” carry an unwavering heaviness and compliment the reflective nature of the lyrics, while the track “Territory” creates a variety of different electronic textures that all stay dancy and catchy. The record is a trip into a variety of different vibes and reasons to listen to music, forming into a wholly memorable and engaging listen. It warps what you think pop, rock, and punk can do when bleeding into each other, one song to the next.” - Noisey
“The four-minute clip follows Heroux as he wanders Chinatown, the East Village, and SoHo, karaoke mic in hand, lip-syncing to the track and going nowhere in particular. Along for the ride are his bandmate (and wife) Jessica Zambri, some random passerby, a few cab drivers, and Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman…The laid-back feel of the video matches the content (if not the upbeat sound) of the song, which covers Heroux’s feelings of alienation and depression when he was making music that didn’t resonate within. Mass Gothic is an honest record, and its lead single needed an honest video where Heroux could exhale and act naturally” [“Every Night You’ve…” video] - Village Voice
“Noel Heroux started off working alone on a four-track, and after nine years and mild success with his old band, dance-rockers Hooray for Earth, he’s gone back to the way he used to do things. This became a necessity, really — a way of dealing with his depression — but the results capture something quintessential about the emotional experience at hand: There are definite highs, and there are definite lows on his self-titled debut as Mass Gothic for Sub Pop. Sometimes Heroux, who’s accompanied at turns by his wife Jessica Zambri, sounds like he’s trying to kick down the doors of his own brain with the sheer force of distorted riffs and heavy echoes and sharp turns. Other times, he’s just trying to shake off the bad stuff with a dance party where the playlist’s almost exclusively synth-pop.” [ 20 Artists You need To Know in 2016] - Vulture
“Tracks such as the exhilarating “Nice Night” - layered stinging distortion - offer a cathartic energy that’s it’s hard not to be pulled in by. Other highlights include the crisp modern doo-wop of “Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me” and the pulsating digital clatter of “Want To Bad”. The sound of a man finding freedom, it’s an impressive reincarnation.” - Q Magazine
Tour Dates Feb. 04 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda’s* Feb. 05 - Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop* Feb. 06 - Chicago, IL - Schuba’s Tavern* Feb. 08 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry* Feb. 11 - Boise, ID – Neurolux* Feb. 12 - Seattle, WA - Columbia City Theatre* Feb. 13 - Portland, OR - Bunk Bar* Feb. 14- San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Stop* Feb. 16 - Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg* Feb. 18 - Denver, CO - Lost Lake* Feb. 19 - Kansas City, MO - Riot Room* Feb. 21 - Louisville, KY – Zanzabar* Feb. 22 - Cincinnati, OH - MOTR Pub* Feb. 23 - Pittsburgh, PA - Club Café* Feb. 25 - Allston, MA - Great Scott* Feb. 26 - Providence, RI - Columbus Theatre* Feb. 27 - Brooklyn, NY – Palisades* Mar. 10 - Washington, DC - Black Cat Mar. 12 - Savannah, GA - Savannah Stopover Mar. 16 - Austin, TX - SXSW Mar. 17 - Austin, TX - SXSW Mar. 18 - Austin, TX - SXSW Mar. 19 - Austin, TX – SXSW *w/ Mazed
We’re now hoping to add another thing for you to know about Sub Pop…
We’ve made (and plan to continue to make) a podcast! Finally, you can hear the stories from inside, outside, and adjacent to Sub Pop, straight from this particular horse’s mouth. We’ll be bringing you conversations with our artists, people who work at or with Sub Pop, and anyone else who will talk to us. And, we’ll be doing much of this same sort of thing with the artists and people related to our sibling label Hardly Art Records.
It’s important to note here that when we say that “we” have made a podcast, we actually mean people here at Sub Pop Records. Hosted by Alissa Atkins (actual, long-time Sub Pop employee!) and Arwen Nicks (actual, albeit part-time and only recently hired, Sub Pop employee!), the Sub Pop Podcast is entirely self-produced and not something pitched to us by shifty entrepreneurs, or created in response to any real, discernible demand or marketing analytics. We have approached this in much the same way we approached starting the label: we really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, and we’re pretty pleased with ourselves by the results.
And somehow, unrelated to any current or past contractual obligations, we convinced an impressive array of folks to talk with us for this thing. Here we are referring to such revered figures from the wide world of entertainment as: King Tuff! Cat from THEESatisfaction! Jon Benjamin! Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses! Jonathan Meiburg from Shearwater! And eventually, we’re fairly certain, if we can pin him down, Mark Arm!
In the spirit of tell and show, you can listen to the trailer for the podcast at subpop.fm RIGHT NOW. If you like what you hear, you can subscribe (in iTunes or anything) right now, too. The first episode will be available Wednesday, February 3, and new episodes will be delivered weekly until April 2016 (at which point the first season will end).
SO! Visit subpop.fm to listen to the trailer, subscribe to the podcast, sign up for the podcast mailing list, or to get in touch with us.
The Sub Pop Podcast: Absolutely nothing sounds better.