Label Focus: Father/Daughter Records
Father/Daughter Records has been a family affair since it was launched by Jessi Frick and her father Ken in 2010.
Although Ken resides in Miami and Jessi in San Francisco, the two have been putting their heads (and headphones) together over the past seven years to bring attention to some of the brightest new acts in indie, including PWT BTTM, Diet Cig, Vagabon and more.
Jessi took a break from churning out hit records to chat with TIDAL about how she got her start in music, her label idols and what Father/Daughter stands for.
How did you get into the music business? What motivated you?
My high school best friend, Amy, was really the person who motivated and inspired me to get involved in the music business. She started her own label called Fiddler Records while in high school. I got to help stuff 7”s and hang out with bands; at the time I was in art school for photography thinking I wanted to be a live music photographer. But through a friend who worked at Fueled by Ramen (when they were still based in Gainesville, Florida) I got the opportunity to tour manage one of my favorite bands, the Impossibles. From that point, I knew I had to work in music; there was no way around it. I love working with creative people.
What, if any, labels were your own role models or guiding stars when you started up?
For sure Merge for being a label that doesn’t follow trends and constantly releases solid music that they believe in. Being from Miami, I’ve always admired labels that thrive in cities outside of New York and L.A., like Polyvinyl, Sub Pop. I’ve always admired Portia Sabin from Kill Rock Stars; I wasn’t aware of too many female-owned independent labels when I first started F/D, but she was and continues to be an inspiration for how she runs her business. She’s also a genuine, lovely person.
What does Father/Daughter stand for as a label?
First and foremost, family. It starts with my dad (Ken) and me, and we make it a mission to trickle down to our artists. People like to say that labels no longer serve a purpose now that technology has advanced the way it has, but I beg to differ. Labels can and should serve as a creative think tank, a way of connecting artists who might not have crossed paths in the real world. I don’t expect our artists to connect with everything we release, but I hope we can help be the bridge that supports an international network of creative people.
What has been your biggest achievement as a label?
Every next record we release is our biggest achievement. The fact that the label stays afloat on its own is a huge feat, and we did it without any outside funding. It’s one hundred percent a success because of the hard work that we (and our artists) put into it, and that brings tears to my eyes.
Did you have an initial idea of what the label should be and how it could evolve in the future when you started it?
I’m winging it. When I started, I knew Father/Daughter would ultimately be a reflection of me, so the main mission statement of sorts was, and continues to be: ‘Genuine, honest and artist-friendly.’ We don’t exist as a label without the people making the music, so making sure they’re supported as best as possible is our number one priority. In the future, I hope we can support our artists on bigger scale.
What are you looking for when signing artists?
I have to like the music and see eye to eye with an artist. We don’t look at streams, social media numbers or data. We sign bands based on our gut feeling. There are entirely too many truly talented artists who don’t get the time of day, and I don’t think a label should purely rely on statistics when working with art. Maybe that makes me a bad businessperson, but I think if you can spot good art, the rest is gravy.
A TON of your artists are buzzy right now. How does it feel to be such a tastemaker?
It’s weird? I don’t think I’m doing anything different from what I have been doing. I’ve always believed in our artists and honestly don’t need the validation because I’ve known it from day one.
Where do you want the label to be in ten years?
In ten years I hope to be working at the label, haha. I’m really bad at planning for the future, I like living in the present, so I don’t know. I guess I want the label to be thriving even more than it is now and continue to help our past, current and future artists evolve creatively.
The music industry goes through rapid changes these days. How have those challenges affected your work?
For us, streaming has been a game changer. Streaming has amplified the discovery angle of our label and I can honestly say it’s helped boost sales. The growth of vinyl and the cassette resurgence has been tremendous for our sales, too. The hardest thing is staying socially plugged in twenty-four-seven. People want immediate interactions and responses, which is exhausting to say the least.
Any regrets? Anything you would do differently if you had a second chance?
No regrets! I’m always bummed out when I can’t work with everyone I want to but that’s about it. Every failure has been a learning experience that helps form better decisions in the future.
What’s the next thing you’re excited about that you’re releasing?
We’ve got a busy 2017. So far we’ve released records for Vagabon, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya and Hiccup. Next is Loose Tooth (a co-release with our label crush, Lame-O Records), Alex Napping, Art School Jocks, some other things I can’t talk about yet and maybe something fun/new from Diet Cig? We have four more albums set for summer/fall.
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