HughShows welcomes back contributing music journalist Jill Berkin. A a UK-based writer and avid music enthusiast, she’s interested in shoegaze, rock, and alternative music. I couldn’t be more thrilled in highlighting her wonderful work on the blog.
Early in October, we received some of the best news of the year in the music business when it was announced that Phoebe Bridgers would be launching her own record label. NME’s report on Bridgers’ announcement revealed that the label will be called “Saddest Factory,” and that Bridgers herself will serve as its CEO. The beloved artist — who has truly become one of the most refreshing voices and lyricists in modern music — has said that the label will release material “from across the music spectrum.”
There are a lot of reasons to be thrilled with this announcement, the first of which — clearly — is that if Bridgers serves as any kind of model for her own label, we’re in for some wonderful discoveries. Bridgers herself was discovered initially by singer-songwriter Ryan Adams, and was quickly able to launch the career we’ve all since begun to follow. But had that first connection not happened, she may have remained on the fringes of the industry, even despite her undeniable talents.
This is actually a particularly cheerful thought to those who follow local music scenes closely. As we all know, there are all too many area-specific bands and singer-songwriters who simply ooze talent, but lack the connections or major discovery moments to “make it big,” so to speak. On the Pittsburgh scene, an act like Sadie’s Song comes to mind as one that could easily sell records and generate radio play given a proper opportunity; singer/songwriter Meghann Wright comes across almost a bit like Bridgers herself — not so much in style, but in substance, with a resonant emphasis on “songs of love, liquored memories, heartbreak, and resilience.”
This is of course not to suggest that Saddest Factory will be signing these specific artists. But anytime an artist as apparently thoughtful and unique as Phoebe Bridgers starts a label, there’s just a little bit more of a chance that artists like these, somewhere, are given a real chance.
To that point, it’s also particularly exciting to hear that Bridgers is not merely bankrolling this label, but will actually serve actively as the person in charge. This may seem inconsequential if you simply assume that a famous artist’s label will inevitably be shaped by unknown talent scouts and managers. But in this business, leadership matters. As ZenBusiness’s rundown of professional record labels puts it, control is the main benefit of starting such a business. The owner in a record label tends to have “complete control of every decision.” And while it’s certainly Bridgers’ prerogative to delegate, she does not seem the type to allow an act that she doesn’t personally approve of to appear on her label.
That’s an appealing thought, because there just aren’t many people in music today we’d trust more for quality control than Bridgers. Just recently, the artist once again proved that she has something of a preternatural gift for providing fans with music that is unique and unexpected, but wholly lovely. In a seemingly somewhat random gesture, Bridgers promised to cover “Iris” by Goo Goo Dolls pending the results of the recent U.S. election. She followed through a few days later, with Maggie Rogers on the track alongside her — and according to an article at Billboard, the cover sold 28,000 in paid downloads in a single day of availability.
That sort of creativity and impulse would certainly seem to line up with thought processes and tendencies that would make for a fun, surprising, and successful label. And frankly, I could go on about various tendencies of Bridgers’ that point toward this being a fascinating venture. But suffice it to say she seems to be a rare combination: a thriving, one-of-a-kind artist who will give others like her a chance, but do so with impeccable quality control.
Sign me up!
Written for hughshows.com by Jill Birken
“I was born and raised in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, PA. My mother being the largest influence in my life, the CD’s she owned and the radio stations she listened to quickly became what I was humming as a child. Stevie Nicks and Jackson Browne were two of the largest influences in my music as an adolescent and as I grew into myself I discovered Folk and Blues music. Janis Joplin, Etta James, and Stevie Nicks became the three power houses I wanted to be. I’ve always loved a piece of every genre though. The lyrics in Folk, the raw emotion in Blues, the honesty of Country, the sexual nature of R&B, and the excitement of Rock n’ Roll. I’ll take it all. I try to emulate as mush as I can through my music. I hope you can appreciate my music as much as I’ve appreciated others.”
Sadie’s Song is the moniker for songwriter Sadie Freund, who is a regular in the vibrant open mic scene in Pittsburgh. She will be celebrating that scene with a ‘solo’ show entitled “Feel the Folk” with Sadie and Friends this Thursday (3/28) at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls featuring the Sweaty Already String Band, The Lone Pines, and Luke Sadecky. I want to thank Sadie for taking the the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.
The first album you ever bought?
That would be Celine Dion’s Greatest Hits because I knew nothing of good music yet. I was around 10.
Your last album bought?
I rebought Ryan Adams Heartbreaker record for my record player. My old one had been played too many times and was a little scratchy.
Favorite album of all time?
Matchbox Twenty’s Yourself or Someone Like You, because I’m a 90’s kid I suppose. ?
Least favorite/most disappointing album?
The Head and the Heart’s Let’s Be Still. I don’t like the direction they took their sound, and you can tell they were trying to create something that wasn’t honest.
First concert attended?
Tim McGraw was my first ever concert. I was 8 and thrilled.
Tyler Childers in Cleveland. Great show, and good dude.
Favorite concert ever?
Iron and Wine performing at the Carnegie Music Hall. There was something in the air that night other than 90-degree weather with no air conditioning.
Least favorite concert?Toby Keith. He was drunk the whole time, but I went with my mom. She’s a huge fan.
Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
My favorite experiences in Pittsburgh all revolve around music. It’s difficult to pick one, because there have been so many shows I’ve been a part of or been a spectator for that have been a joy to my life.
Thanks, Sadie. I’ll give you a pass on Celine Dion since she was ALL over the place when you got the album. PLus you were ten. Believe me, there have been way worse answers than that.