July 20, 2010 Leave a comment
High Scores and Records is a Portland based label that is the brainchild of Devin Gallagher. The label was born back in April 2009 and since then Gallagher has invited Marisa Bravo and Jenna Fletcher to join the HSAR family. Their mission is simple: promote and release music by awesome Portland bands. So far their roster includes May Ling, Wampire, River Banks, Forest Park, Guidance Counselor, Breakfast Mountain and many more.
Though High Scores And Records is a relatively new label, their business model is forward-thinking and will hopefully create a snowball effect in both the DIY and big-time music industry. Here’s the scoop – instead of releasing CDs – which are quickly becoming disposable land-fillers – HSAR comprimises between the collector’s admiration of tangible forms of music by releasing vinyl records while satisfying the downloading culture’s hunger for instant gratification via MP3 downloads on their website.
Outsider Music Press was lucky enough to chat with Devin and Marisa via e-mail about High Scores and Records past and its future place in the Portland music scene.
Outsider Music Press: How did High Scores And Records start?
Devin: I co-owned Boy Gorilla Records with all my friends for three years. In spring 2009, things started to
fragment, and some people decided they’d rather work on the music than the label (we all played in
Typhoon and/or Eskimo & Sons and/or The Black Black Black). Smoke settled, I had lot of new ideas and
motivation, and the rest of the boy gorillas gave me their blessing to go on alone. Then I met Marisa (at
the time, an out-of-work publicist) and my old friend Jenna (at the time, a high school senior and The Black
Black Black’s biggest fan) offered to intern.
Marisa: I first met Devin during an unexpected year of unemployment. We had mutual friends, and after discovering that one of my first shows in Portland was a Typhoon/Boy Gorilla show, I knew that High Scores And Records was something I wanted to be a part of immediately. I help to streamline the label with his ideas from a PR/Marketing point of view. He makes it really easy though by bringing a lot of ambition and initiative to the table. Then I met Jenna, and it just seemed kismet to work with people who are so rightly obsessed with local music and music in general. I really believe I was at the right time and right place in my life to help High Scores grow.
OMP: How do you find the artists for the label?
Devin: Sometimes my friends make amazing music. Sometimes I see a cool band play live (I try to go to shows
every night). Sometimes I find a band’s demo recordings on their myspace page and flip out. Sometimes I
meet bands on tour. I talk to people about music all day – I’ve got lots of friends that are constantly
steering me towards amazing bands.
Marisa: I catch one or two shows a week, but now that I’m gainfully employed again (yay!), I leave most of the discovery to Devin. He’s got that ear for bands that not a lot of people can claim to posses. We’re lucky in Portland too; we’ve got a hotbed for all music and you can fall in love with music/musicians at any time during the day, night, week, or weekend. We’re lucky here.
OMP: What is exciting about running the label / blog?
Marisa: I’ve never been a part of something like this before. I’ve always loved music and have been fan-girl to many a group, but to actually get involved, to see growth and success from hard work with a medium that I cherish so much, it’s beyond anything I could have imagined. Devin is much more the front person with blogging and the label too. I like to think of my contribution more as a support system that can help the label with more of a linear approach, helping to bring the loose ends together. That, and I’m a music geek. And an unabashed fan-girl. Being part of this label has helped to achieve many fan-girl dreams.
Devin: I think that my primary purpose as a person in this scene is to show love. I love helping musicians get
their music out to the public. I love spreading the word about a rad new band. I love gushing about the Portland music scene and how everyone is beautiful amazing geniuses (and they ARE). It’s about encouragement, keeping things moving, elevating how you view things. Also, I love record labels. I spent my high school years on the internet geeking out about K Recs and Up Records and Suicide Squeeze, and Know Yr Own and Dischord and Marriage Records (the list goes on). I started blogging as a way to keep momentum going in our Boy Gorilla crew. Apparently, people read what I write and that’s awful flattering.
OMP: Any challenges you have come across?
Marisa: Fitting label work with full-time employment, finding label financial support, getting the word about HSAR out to the world, not just the Pacific NW…
Devin: Funding, legal issues, storing 1000+ records in my studio apartment, managing 20+ bands and artists,
technology, competition, haters.
OMP: How do you see this vinyl revival affecting the ways people view the tangible form of music? Why do you think the vinyl revival is becoming such a trend?
Devin: CDs are dead. No one values them. You put the music on your ipod and then the CD gets destroyed on
the floor of the backseat of your car. No one would ever treat vinyl like that. People inherently value and
respect a piece of vinyl: it’s permanent, yet fragile. And it still sounds better than anything else.
I think vinyl is coming back just due to cycles- ipods made music completely intangible, and napster made
music seemingly valueless. True music lovers know that music is real and physical and immeasurably
valuable. They returned to vinyl.
OMP: What is High Scores And Records place in the music community of Portland? What makes the label stand out?
Devin: We are unabashed music fans. You can see me front row at the show any night of the week (I’m the bearded guy taking photos and tweeting on his phone). I’ve been a musician for twice as long as a label-owner and think of myself as an artist, not a businessman. We are the scene. We love the scene. Some labels (and artists for that matter) like to act like they are above the scene, like they made the scene. We have no such misconceptions: the scene made us. We’re gonna give back as much love as we can. Also, we release vinyl. It’s really important to me to be putting vinyl into the world in 2010.
OMP: What is your stance on musical advocacy?
Marisa: I think Portland itself is a great advocate for music. This city provides an economic, social, and spiritual haven for a generation (my generation specifically) to create and distribute music. It doesn’t matter what you do, who you are, or where you came from: you can create. And whether or not it’s accepted or “liked” or trendy, honestly, who cares? It exists and that’s the only thing that matters.
OMP: What excites you about an artist?
Devin: If I’m going to release music, I want it to be new and original and progressive. I have no interest in
releasing sounds we’ve all already heard. I like artists that make music because they love it. I like artists
that go to shows and support other artists (because they love it, not out of duty). I like artists that are
excited about our label and connect with the idea of community we are building. I like artists that have
heart. I like artists that smash their guitars on impulse, and then kind of wish they hadn’t, because they
liked that guitar. I like artists that some people think are “unlistenable”. I like artists that work really
hard. I like artists that are honest and express themselves. I like artists that leave blood stains on their
Marisa: For me it’s all about the beat and rhythm-how it hooks you with that one note, that one beat. I love bein at shows where you know the audience and the band are on the same wavelength and completely in tune with each other. The tenacity some artists have, the drive and passion you see live are also indicators of an artist that will go balls to the wall for his or her art. That discovery is priceless.
OMP: What’s next for HSAR?
Devin: We’re working with Support Force, Brainstorm, Sons of Huns, Breakfast Mountain, Total Bros, and
Nutritionist on future releases. Announcements soon.
Marisa: There are tons of new releases coming up, not to mention developments online. HSAR was just asked to be part of a local collective of partners who put on The Rumble: Portland. The Rumble showcases up and coming Portland bands with a free show every month. Eight different cities across the United States also have The Rumble thanks to Future Sounds.