Watching a crowd that is overcome by music can be a moving experience. Being part of that crowd can be downright intoxicating, but orchestrating that crowd – well that’s a whole ‘nother story. In 2001, that became the only goal for Sean Anderson, Brad Denton and David Brown, three party promoters and DJs from Dallas that were raised on warehouse parties, Technics 1200s and vinyl records. They had stepped through the various scenarios just described. They had watched, they had experienced and now they were ready to have their own creative stamp in music.
Harmonious Discord Records was born in the midst of, “…carrying CRT monitors to each others houses and trying to turn rave money into record label money,” label boss, Sean Anderson describes.
The first vinyl, released in February of 2001, featured two Harmonious Discord home artists, Ahman (David Brown) and Litex (Eric Reeves). The short stack of vinyl they got came out of Dallas’ legendary A&R Records & Tape Manufacturing Company. At that time if you were getting a record pressed in Texas; that’s where you were going to get it done and a long haired rocker guy named Stan would be helping you out. Getting distribution took 4-6 months, but there were plenty of locally owned records stores that stocked the release. The complex web of support between friends, other DJs and these stores helped carve a niche for Harmonious Discord (HD) to continue pushing the techy and deep sounds that have become a staple of the imprint.
HD started out as many labels then did – a vinyl only outfit. This was perfectly sufficient for the time. No one could predict just how much the world would embrace mp3s; but they rocked the proverbial boat, just as compact discs did when they first came out, back in 1982.
“Back then you actually had to know how to press a record in order to have a label,” Sean Anderson reminisces about trying to get his idea off the ground.
Eventually the Harmonious Discord camp broke the cycle of vinyl releases by partnering with Beatport to get digital distribution in 2007. Technology was changing the game. But something else was changing too – the fanscape. The makeup of the listener was molding into something new; it wasn’t only people who owned turntables that wanted to consume dance music. HD had to move with the market or risk possibly causing their own demise. Smart business man that he is, Sean chose the right path. And in fact, here in 2016, they’re doing it all over again. Moving forward all HD releases will be available on Itunes, not just Beatport. Why? Because that’s where people are going to buy music. The fans have just as much power in the market, as does the technology.
Over the last 15 years the label has had 43 releases comprised of EPs and albums. The roster of artists include Brad Dale, Patchen Preston, Merrick Brown, Henry Chow, Kilowatts and many more. Sean’s own production monikers, Pointbender and his collaboration with Eric Reeves called Grey, are also featured.
When you look at the history of the label one thing is clear – Texas is a big part of it. A majority of the releases feature a Texas artist’s original productions followed by remixes by their own favorite artists. This was not an intentional outcome, but more of a natural progression as their support system grew over the years. The first 5 releases were all printed at A&R. Sean and co. went back to A&R and for the 30th release and Stan remembered them and still had copies of a few of those old HD releases. A&R is now locally owned by the same owners of Josey Records in Dallas. As well, Josey stocks all HD releases.
The Texas ties also extend into the label art. Early artwork was handled by David Brown but later on the majority of the HD visual gallery is provided by Texas artists, JD Northrup and Jamie Northrup. The two often would, for one reason or another, have to produce artwork under serious time constraints but somehow always manage to produce imaginative artwork that was complimentary to the music.
Fast forward to 2016 and the 15th anniversary of Harmonious Discord will give us two compilation cds and a huge party to celebrate. “This will be the first major stuff out on Itunes, one will be deep heady stuff, the other will be more techy, “states Sean. The first compilation just dropped on March 3rd, the second will be available March 25th.
In the meantime, mark your calendars for March 19, which is the official anniversary party for the HD camp. This free event will be held at a mysterious place in South Austin called “The Dome” (you want to go there; you know you do). This is the 8th South By Southwest party; various venues have been used before including downtown clubs and even a barber shop in East Austin. Live streaming of the party will be provided by Tour Gigs, should you not be able to make it to Austin for the show; and many of the artists will perform live on instruments made by Austin based company, Livid. More information about the party can be found here.
Sean’s Tips for Sending in Demos
Do the research.
Listen to a couple tracks from the label you are shopping to, try and think how a release by you could really help shape their sound. Maybe even include a specific track from the label that you thought of or your track reminds you of. A short explanation of why your track fits the sound of the label helps owners spark ideas about how they can work with you.
Be Nice, Be Thankful.
Here is the real secret. No label wants to sign your track. A label wants to partner with you on a release. Labels put money in a lot of places that people don’t always realize. They are giving you a platform to continue telling your story and you are giving them a project that is going to continue to define their sound. It’s a great partnership when it works and for many a labor of love.
Tell us a little about the process.
Example “Wrote this track on (name tools) or I wrote these song during a period where the weather inspired me, or time with a friend. Try to help us understand how you got to the full song and how you work as a musician.
Join the hustle.
Spend the time to get the word out to your fans that you have a new release with a label and let them know why you are excited to work with them.