Just as fanzines and music blogs serve as the CNN of underground music. It’s the Independent Record Labels that provide the vehicle for which we enjoy much of the current music that comes out of our often thriving music scenes. For bands that cannot or do not wish to beg for crumbs from the all consuming music industry. Independent labels such as Sniffling Indie Kids serve as a home and comfort zone for many bands. In my years as co creator of United By Rocket Science and now with Document. I was happy to find that the D.I.Y. (Do it Yourself) ethos I grew up on was still alive and thriving. In a relatively short time. SIK has served up plenty of evidence and musical inspiration. I recently reached out to Frank and Eric to get an inside look at what makes this label such a integral part of New Jersey’s independent music scene. JD
Despite the musicality and quality of the labels releases. The name Sniffling Indie Kids as well as the labels logo have a very juvenile look and sound. What’s behind the term “Sniffling Indie Kids” and the logo?
Frank: I’m stealing a quote from Eric on this one…”The name Sniffling Indie Kids comes from the Hold Steady song “Positive Jam” and it very much signifies our perspective on life and music. Take the music very seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously.” Plus, being able to use the acronym “SIK” has been a lot of fun because we’re putting out the “SIK-est” indie records in NJ. Basically, the name sounded cool, funny and memorable so we just kind of went with it. As for the logo, we had one of our favorite cartoonists make it. His name is Steven Darden (http://www.stevendarden.com/) and he rules. We now however have a new logo that we are using that was based on the original text, but re-imagined by YJY’s Steve Sachs (http://cargocollective.com/stevesachs/).
You had attempted and somewhat succeeded to create something very inspiring with the Tiny Giants Collective. What became of that and do youn think there were any lessons to learn from the experience?
Frank: The Tiny Giant Artist Collective was more or less an experiment. It was an unbelievable learning experience. It was a friendship builder, a network expander, a musical opinion forum and a self destructing nightmare. Basically, we wanted to build a network to expand communication of great bands and people passionately involved in the music scenes throughout the tri-state area. We kind of achieved some of that, however in the process, the move towards attempting to be purely democratic somewhat destroyed it. When the original five people started it, it was very content driven, and held a high standard for quality as well as the people we would have involved. But as time passed and more people got involved, it was a standard “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario which overall degraded the quality of the group. It also had become filled with too many people with a focus on “me” and not enough on “we.”
Sniffling Indie Kids is the direct punch back at what we initially tried at building. We now have jobs and some (not a lot) of money to work with, so we figured we could take the mistakes we learned from the TGAC and build something better with SIK as a record label instead of a collective. Not to sound like a pompous control freak, but I’ve always felt the three of us who run SIK have very good ears and more often than not are on the same page in regard to who we would like to work with.
2015 was a very busy year for SIK with a number of noteworthy releases. With all the urgency. Is there any fear or burnout?
Eric: No. Well maybe. Who knows? We are involved in a lot of musical projects ourselves, besides the bands that we work with, so there definitely is the possibility of burning out at some point. However, at the moment we are going to kick ass while there is ass to be kicked and let the future bring what it will.
You’ve been releasing material at a somewhat frantic pace. What is it about these bands, their music, or both that inspire you and makes you feel they need such immediate attention?
Eric: The majority of the bands are people that we have known in the scene for a long time in various other musical incarnations. Occasionally, we hear someone new that we want to work with, but it’s always organic as far as finding out about them.
Frank: Also, a lot of the bands we are working with are very prolific song writers. It makes it easy to continually put out new material when bands are putting out 1-2 full releases a year.
With the overwhelming amount of noteworthy acts in the current local scened. How do you maintain a quality over quantity?
Frank: Since we’ve known the people we work with for quite some time, we try to keep it a close knit family circle. The people currently in the circle have yet to disappoint our ears.
Eric: At the same time we won’t release anything that doesn’t align with our personal tastes.
Aside from yourselves, (Frank & Eric) Who else is involved, both creatively and monetarily?
Frank: So the label is run by Eric Goldberg, Joe Lanza and myself (Frank DeFranco). At the same time, the label somewhat operates in the collective way that TGAC did with people pitching in here and there to help further achieve our goals (like Steve with the logo).
Eric: Also, there have been multiple blogs (such as this one) that have been loyal to helping support our cause. Jim from CoolDad Music was gracious enough to go so far as co-hosting an Indie Pop Winter Formal with us in Asbury Park.
How hands on are you with the recordings and mastering? Who else, besides the bands themselves, are involved with the process?
Frank: So as far as recording, often Joe will lend out his hand in helping get music tracked for anyone on the label. There are others involved such as Max Rauch (LKFFCT & NGHTCRWLRS) and Erik Romero (Dollys) who are in bands on the label who record/mix/master a lot of other bands involved with the label. Additionally, our long time close friends Jeremy Cimino and Skylar Adler have played a behind the scenes role in making a lot of the records released on the label sound as good as they do. We ourselves tend to not get too involved in the making of the records (except if Joe is involved), however we do make sure that all of our releases are held to a certain standard of quality.
You recently celebrated your first vinyl release with Rocky Catanese’s “New Day Old Night”. Was there something special or unique that influenced you to go the extra mile by pressing it on to vinyl?
Frank: Obviously we dug the record, but besides that, there’s a few reasons why we did. One, he really wanted to do it, so much so that he offered to put up half the funds to help make it happen. Two, we wanted to put out something on vinyl in our first year of existence. Three, we’ve known Rocky for a long time and he was a reliable person to do this with. Four, we knew that when Rocky said he would be playing out a lot and touring to support the record, we could trust his word. If it were financially possible we’d put out everything on vinyl, but that just is not an option for us at this time.
Eric: We look forward to doing more vinyl releases via our upcoming limited edition Sniffling Indie Singles series. These will be 7″ lathe cut splits of two bands on the label.
You mentioned that while you’re not seeking out bands to sign. You definitely have plans in place for future releases. Care to fill us in? Or is it a deeply guarded industry secret?
Eric: Our next release is Delicate Flowers in April. The rest is a closely guarded secret.
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