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My name is Shawn Reed, I grew up in a small industrial Mississippi River town in Iowa called Muscatine. I grew up in the country and my family has deep roots in rural farming culture in Iowa which is the main historical back drop of the state and its economy. I got into punk music in middle school from listening to a late night radio station that played sub culture alternative music. In highschool in the late 90’s I started playing in locals bands. Mail order became a big part of my experience trying to find music and check things out it was a slow pre internet process. Â In 99 I ended up in Art school at the Univeristy of Northern Iowa for Printmaking. It was a formative time both in and out of school. I met some key people that would help solidify and shape my connection to underground music and visual art. I had two printmaking Professors I was very close to Aaron Wilson and Tim Dooley who set a high standard for what was expected from me concerning the visual art I was making and would go on to make.Â They also introduced me to some weirder and more arty music outside the punk/hardcore/indie context that had a big impact (John Cage, Can, Sun Ra, TG, Royal Trux etc).
At that same time a group of us local punks in college together at the time started a DIY space in a garage and began inviting bands on tour to come and play our small college town of Cedar Falls IA. It quickly led to our own bands starting to go on tours and to put out our own records and my formative years of networking in the DIY music scene became a bigger and bigger part of my life. I was finding out about more and music and got pretty heavily in to Free Jazz, Psych Rock, Post Punk, Krautrock etc. I was pushing my visual art in similar ways reaching out as far as I could doing instillation work that ranged from silkscreen to textiles and sculptures. Around that time I became aware of deep under ground art and music like the early 2000’s Noise scene things like Paper Rodeo zine out of Providence RI, American Tapes out of Michigan etc. I had reached out to a gallery in NYC called Little Cakes since they worked with many artists I found interesting at the time. They in turn thought it was wild someone living in Cedar Falls Iowa knew about them and Â things just went from there with me eventually getting invited into the Little Cakes family of artists. I ended up Â showing at there their Gallery in NYC and Tokyo before the gallery eventual decided to close doors. Â I had really enjoyed the main people I was working with in the gallery scene but overall I didn’t relate to the context of it on a larger scale. I still show at galleries but haven’t pursued it as much as I have working with underground music. I thought the music scene offered more organic and self directing opportunities and economy.
Around 2004 I moved to Iowa City for graduate school and ended up starting Raccoo-oo-oon with an old friend who I knew from going to shows around the state Daren Ho. My former allies going back Andy Spore and Ryan Garbes were soon added to the band as well. We wanted to play more free form music that bordered between being rehearsed and being improvisational Â We used any instruments we could get a hold of. Early on Miles Davis, Can, Neu, Suicide, Sun City Girls etc where big influences. Â After a demo cassette we sent around to friends and labels we started a heavy touring schedule and started releasing music on a variety of labels like Woodsist, Time-Lag, Release the Bats and Not Not Fun. Touring with Raccoo-oo-oon just lead deeper into the subculture of the time and we startedÂ Night-PeopleÂ Records as a way to document who we were playing with and hanging out with and also what we were all doing creatively outside Raccoo-oo-oon. The label became economically connected to touring and still is. Touring is a good way to get the merchandise on the road out in the world in an initial way and it helped make connections through trading etc. most of the bands the label has represented were friends met on the road. Andy came up with the name of the label, its basically just a literal thing, staying up late getting deep with music.
A recent example was when my friends Merchandise recently came through Iowa City on tour, after the show we ended up back at my place staying up late into the morning hours playing piles of records talking about music and life getting deep on the sounds and what we had to introduce to each other, thatÂ nightÂ settled Merchandise working with Night-PeopleÂ on there next record despite many offers for them from much bigger and lucrative labels. Its about the lifestyle of it, its about love of music and art, its doing it for the sake of doing it because you have no other choice because of the love and desire you have for it.
When Raccoo-oo-oon disbanded with Daren moving to NYC and Andy moving to LA I decided to take the label on as a full time project to see how far I could push it. I had just finished up graduate school and everything in my life was going through a big transition, Raccoo-oo-oon was a huge part of my life and I wanted to keep and continue the connections I was making through that lifestyle and culture relating to correspondence, trading, and touring. I had started Wet Hair around that time as a solo project Ryan quickly joined the band so we could keep pushing forward with making music and touring taking on very different approaches to music then Wet Hair in order to keep it interesting and cover more territory and interests. Because I didn’t really see the right future in the art world as far as showing in galleries relying on curators and collectors etc. Â I choose to aim the label even more into a distinct visual direction. I thought if I did all the design work for the label and silkscreened everything by hand it would create an aesthetic template and foundation for an evolving roster of interesting music. The visual side of the label would help create trust and interest in the label so that I could introduce new and obscure music from all over the world. I wanted the label to have a bit of a collector and cult feel but also wanted it to be hands on so thepeopleÂ buying the records were buying something that embodied the love and devotion I feel to the music and art presented. It was a way to put art into hundreds of peoples hands for cheap instead of selling it in a gallery for a lot of money with limited reach to an audience. It also combined my interest in design with my interest in meetingÂ peopleÂ and curating.
I wanted to prove to myself that I could do the label at a high level totally DIY without any backing or funding other then what the label could generate for itself. I hoped I could introduce new bands and music and shift taste towards them instead of trying to appeal to an audience or things that had already been established. I think that aspect of the label has been a success Â bands like Peaking Lights, Dirty Beaches, The Twerps etc have all seen the benefits of that process. The financial aspects of the label are very difficult, I feel more like an outsider then ever to the more mainstream way indie music, press, labels etc operate. I don’t know how long the label will be able to survive but I don’t have any doubts or regrets about it, I just wanted to help bring an audience to music that I Â believe in, its not about money or hype its just about trying to sustain creativity and the kind of positive exciting connections that got me interested in doing a label in the first place.
Avec plus de 200 sorties au nom duÂ NightÂ People, comment juges-tu ton travail ? With more than two hundred releases to your credit, how do you judge your work?Â
Its a house label, I had lived in the same house for 9 years in Iowa City and the label was part of the house itself in a way. I had the band rehearsal space and silkscreen studio in the basement. The dinning room was my office and listening room. The attic and closest held shipping material and merchandise. For the most part it was just me sitting in the house in Iowa City day in and day out trying to push the label and keep it going and make it better on all levels all of the time. I say that all in past tense because after a long haul in Iowa City and a deep connection and outward of expression of myself towards music and art there I have decided to leave. Following a recent tour with Wet Hair and Merchandise some things changed in my life and I decided to finally get out of living in a small college town and am now living in Saint Paul after one year in Minneapolis. Regardless the label is still going and I am currently working on new releases.
Its hard to answer how I judge the work. I know there are things I always want to be doing better like efficiency of the operation, getting the mail out quicker, getting faster at all the assembly etc. Its hard because its so hands on, I dub hundreds of tapes a month, print thousands of records sleeves and deal with crazy amounts of emails and physical mail its really hard to keep up with while still barely getting by financially. The financial part is the only thing that really stresses me out, I love the work even it it is very tedious.
As far as judging my designs and the music I am releasing its just experience and trusting my taste and gut instincts. Its really just having confidence and feeling the music and art. Its more of a feeling then a decision really.
I don’t have any real political points I am trying to make by doing things in a DIY way, its mostly out of necessity but its also because I want to have control and be really involved with the label, I like it being hands on and very curated in the way that it is. If you lay out a pile of NP releases all together it looks really nice like one big work of art. I try to have a lot of variety in the music but somehow present links between it all, I think it works for the most part. I think Night-People is a bit more of an art project then a lot of other labels, its like an evolving family of visual iconography and bands that I work with. I very much relate to groups like the Push Pin Graphic aesthetic or Andy Warhol’s Factory, the Sun Ra band family, even more punk things like the Crass aesthetic and uniformity Â I can’t bring myself to compromise aesthetics for sales or to make things easier and so DIY is the backdrop of that I guess.
Quelle est la ligne artistique du label ? What’s the artistic guideline of the label?
The only guideline thus far is that everything is silkscreen and all art is done by me. Ryan and Justin from Wet Hair help with visual things at times since we collaborate a lot, we work so well together that its really seamless aesthetically. Early on some of the bands contributed to there own art but I try to keep it where I am the principle designer if not usually doing all the design. I could see at some point not silk screening the records in favor of being able to have more elaborate designs but I’m not quite there yet. I was really proud of the Wet Hair Spill Into Atmosphere design and I could see Night-Peoplegoing that way more potentially but for now I want to keep it hand made and silk screened. Â All the design is done mostly by hand with heavy use of a sort of xerox aesthetic.
Peaking Lights Imaginary Falcons was a special release, they are good friends, I met them at a time in my life when I was often depressed and they really are such fantastic people that I have a lot of love and admiration for them and the band. That was a release I just really believed in and I think a lot of people wouldn’t see a band like them becoming as popular as they are now but I saw it from day one so I’m just happy I could have some part in working with such great people and such a great unique band.
Featureless Ghost Personality Matrix recently is a release I can really get behind, they are great people too and the vinyl sounds so good, I hope people get behind that band because they are so good live and it translates so perfectly to vinyl, I just think they are a special band right now.
The Merchandise record that came out in April 2013 was another big one, the members of that band showed the label so much love and trust picking Night-People to work with over so many other labels that wanted to release this record. Its also a great record, really stunning as a home recorded document, there is something both epic and humbling about the sound presented. Its really just about the connection we both have to the love of life itself and how both the band and myself have such devotion to sticking to your spirit and doing what you want and trying to not give into shitty outside forces making them come play on your terms not the other way around. They get the idea of the label and what it is, how its about constant change but somehow maintaining the core foundation of the identity/aesthetic and how it is presented. Wet Hair and Merchandise are close, Night-People in ways is like a family with some of the bands, I think if you talk to bands like Peaking Lights, Dirty Beaches, Merchandise etc. they would say the same thing about it. The Merchandise record pushed the visual of aesthetic further as well and I am very proud of the overall product of that record.
Peux-tu nous expliquer lâ€™histoire commune que tu as avec Peaking Lights ? Could you explain to us your common history with the band Peaking Lights?
Aaron and Indra moved from San Francisco to Madison WI which is about 4 hours from Iowa City. They played a show in Iowa City that I put on and we just became really good friends immediately. Its just one of those things, they are greatpeople and we have a lot in common with the music we like and how we feel about the world so the friendship just grew from there. Wet Hair has toured with them, NP has put over several releases by them, we still talk often and any chance I get to see or hang out with them I make extra effort towards. I’ve really missed them since they moved to LA. I could talk endless about how great of people they are and how good their band is.
Lazy Magnet is Jeremy Harris. Harris is an old tour friend, we seem to run into each other a couple times a year. He lived in Providence a long time. He has been doing Lazy Magnet for over 10 years and its constantly changing and evolving. Meager Sunlight his other current band is really great too. Harris is one of the most interesting people I have ever met, he’s a true road warrior and just keeps pushing through any problems that come up in life etc. It just inspiring to see a person stick to it year after year and get better and better at what they are creating.
AprÃ¨s le magnifique Spill Into Atmosphere, quelle sera la suite pour Wet Hair ? After the gorgeous Spill Into Atmosphere, what will happen next for Wet Hair?
We are chilling out right now, working slowly on new material and recording it as we go. We just did a tour with Merchandise. I think these new songs are our best yet, they are more structurally complex then anything we have done, there are many layers of melodies and grooves going in and out of each other in these new songs in a way I find interesting. I don’t know if any one else will get it but we really love the new stuff we are working on and I think its our most original sounding material to date, I think it goes further into aspects of our sound that are hard to describe.
Quel est le futur proche pourÂ NightÂ PeopleÂ ? Whatâ€™s in the near future for Night People?
I’m going to keep pushing the Merchandise Totale Nite LP, I am working on Deep Freeze Mice reissue LP in the works, an LP by the Garment District and plenty more cassettes to follow that.
V.A. – Tape Gun Compilations (Night People /Â Download)
01. Roladex – Cathode Rays
02. Dice Parks – Eurobot
03. Unhappybirthday – Himutsu
04. Beat Detectives – Your Love
05. Fingers Pty Ltd – Local Park
06. Fatti Frances – Slow
07. Boy Friend – Labyrinth
08. Some Ember – Wave of Fear, Wave of Joy
09. Regional Curse – Traditional Ascension
10. Dead Channel – Subterranean City
11. Cellophan Spill – Season 3
12. Dylan Ettinger – Juice
13. Tender Meat – Sweet & Sour Diesel
14. D.Vassalotti – Swallow My Pride
15. The Savage Young Taterbug – Disc Jockey Inside Corona Bottle (featuring Spacey Tracey)
16. Sleepy Filter – The Name
17. The Ukiah Drag – Silver Mint
18. Idiot Glee – Position A