Ray, Amy

By Dominick A. Miserandino,
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Learn about how she manages the indie-record label, it's influence on herself and Emily Saliers, and her views on the music industry as a whole.

DM) What made you decide to start up Daemon Records?

AR) I wanted to keep my feet in the underground. I had a lot of talented friends with no way/infrastructure to get their music out. I love the underground, grassroots-collective philosophy of punk.

DM) Do you find that it gets too time-consuming and interrupts your own musical career?

AR) Sometimes, but it also fuels my career ... Whenever I'm thinking that I am not spending enough time on my own music, I pull back a little and let my employees carry the burden for the label. They are great friends and allow me the luxury. Mostly, I depend on Daemon to inspire my sense of what music means to me and the Indigo Girls.

DM) Do you ever find musical inspiration for the Indigo Girls in the bands you sign?

AR) Yes. Most of the bands I sign tend to be major influences on my own music, and some of them may influence the way I approach production and even live shows. Also, they become good friends.

DM) Comparing the advantages and disadvantages of a major label versus an independent one, if you could choose to, would you sign the Indigo Girls to Daemon Records?

AR) I wouldn't be on my own label, because Emily would be uncomfortable with the integration, but I would for sure be on an indie, like Kill Rock Stars. I think the truth is that all labels live on a spectrum of capitalism. Even indies can lose sight of the real soul of music. I have had a good experience on Epic and got a lot out if it, but I was lucky. My preference now would be an indie, mostly because the ties financially of any major label corporation go beyond anything I feel comfortable with. Politically, the world's globalized economic state compels me to want to get away from any corporate ties.

DM) Does Daemon Records ever give you more pleasure than playing with the Indigo Girls?

AR) Yes.

DM) What advice would you give to an independent artist trying to get signed to an independent record label?

AR) The most important thing to any good indie is signing touring bands. You should be prepared to tour and sell yourself on this point. Also, you should be willing to help in the promotion of your own record. Don't expect an indie to have money. Expect them to have a good, caring "not hipper than thou" staff who will really be behind you. And expect them to have a good distribution set-up. Even very small distributors can be great as long as they and you are focused on your touring.

DM) What does being a non-profit label mean?

AR) Actually, it's "not-for-profit" and it means if we ever make profit (which we don't), we always roll it into the next project or some benefit cause.

DM) How do you go about reviewing the demos?

AR) I listen to the first song and if it doesn't grab me, I pass on it. I don't care about recording quality. In fact, I prefer cassettes.

DM) Does any part of managing the label stress you out like a "typical job" would?

AR) Yeah, sometimes I am just tired. The most stressful thing is when I have an amazing band with great press and who's touring, but still not selling records. I want my bands to do well and feel satisfied in a relative way with their accomplishments. If they don't see tangible results, then I get stressed.

DM) Could you ever give up the Indigo Girls and just do this?

AR) Maybe, but it's hard to separate the two. They feed off each other.

 

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