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Roofless Records communicates via email with THL

roofless flyer

In an attempt to gather much information with very little effort, I wrote an email to Matt from Roofless Records. This email included a couple of mediocre questions for him to answer. Luckily and surprisingly, he responded. Also lucky for me, even though my questions are choppy and nauseatingly boring, he was able to answer them in a way that was interesting, informative and without much need of an editor. Delightful!

Roofless has three shows coming up in the near future, including one on Saturday night at PS14 (Bar) Strange Days # 4, and next week Justice Yeldham, and Weird Wives.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? What’s the deal with Roofless Records? Where’d you get the name? What are you putting out, records/CDs, what?

I’m 24, from Miami originally, and moved to Sarasota in 2004 to study Comparative Literature at New College of Florida. That’s where I met Dana Bassett, 23 and also originally from Miami, who is the other half of Roofless. We founded the label in the fall of 2007 to document the rapidly growing noise/weird rock/performance art scene on campus and in the greater Sarasota house party scene. I had been promoting concerts since high school, and it felt like it was time to expand to more permanent documents of the music I found exciting. I graduated in 2008, moved to Philadelphia on an impulsive whim, and found myself back in Miami in fall of 2009. Dana is currently pursuing her masters at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago, but is definitely still apart of the operation.

The name comes from a house that was a staple of our friend group for most of the time we were in college. The inaugural roommates named it Roofless out of a love of gangsta diction and intonation. Ironically, the first night I moved in the ceiling was leaking. We didn’t have to do much brainstorming before we settled on “Roofless Records.” It rolls off the tongue and I appreciated the cognitive dissonance inspired by a house with a roof that says “Roofless” under it. I also appreciated the resonance with Magritte’s This Is Not A Pipe painting, plus Eazy-E ran Ruthless Records (pronounced Roofless), so that dipped back into the original inspiration for the name of the house.

Thus far, we’ve released: 3 cassettes, two 7’‘s, a compilation LP, a split LP. The newest release is the debut album from local musician/mason The President, entitled “LeBron”, which features 14 completely bizarre songs in 27.2 ridiculous minutes, packaged in a 7’‘ slip with a one-of-a-kind poster by the President (oil pastels on poster board) and two supplemental inserts. Dana also recently launched a publishing branch of Roofless with the debut monograph by local visual artist and blogger Lazaro Rodriguez. There’s more information about our complete discography and available catalog up on the Roofless website.

Who’s on the label? What kind of musicians and genres attract you personally and for Roofless?

We’re exceptionally open-minded about what we’ll release. It’s just a matter of the material resonating with us strongly enough to feel moved to document it. It also doesn’t hurt if you’re from Florida, because who cares what’s going on in Brooklyn? We live in a state that doubles as a freak incubator, and I strongly believe some of the most interesting recorded music and live performances in the country are happening in nearly every major city in Florida (moving up the state, Miami, Sarasota, Tampa, Orlando, and Gainesville are all going strong with clumps of likeminded weirdo obsessives constantly raising the bar.) So far, we’ve dabbled in a variety of sounds, most of which approach music from a post-punk and/or experimental style, but, again, we’re open to nearly anything. To generalize about the catalog, I feel like all of the releases are very cutting edge; artists making the most exciting moves possible, exhausting their resources, standing at the absolute horizon of the new and the fresh, while necessarily staying versed in and influenced by various canons, genres and traditions.

You both put out music and produce shows, correct? Which is more important to you, the music or the performance?

They’re equally important but for completely different reasons.

The shows came first, and are about raw occurence. We set parameters – curate a tight, diverse lineup, find an appropriate space, figure out gimmicks and giveaways specific to the show – and then watch it unfold. People are partying, bands plan special surprises, and everything is so damn loud that it’s like building a Rube Goldberg machine in the middle of a warzone. There’s a Carnivalesque release involved. The normal rules of society no longer exist and it’s because a selected troupe of entertainers have been granted permission to make exceptionally loud, ear drum damaging sounds. This is generative fuel. People meet, they hear new styles, they go home and start a band or start home taping and before you know it they’re playing at the next one.

The records are more definitive statements, a way to participate in a musical dialogue infinitely larger than the sum of its individual parts. Shows are about the moment, the present and, in a way, records are a way to decide what is going to be “the past.”

Fancy sounding bullshit aside, the ultimate motivation is always one of completely arbitrary taste. What kinds of shows do we want to see? What kinds of records would we buy? Those are the ones we book and produce.

What’s it like having a record label in Miami, not that you might know what it’s like elsewhere, but what do you think makes it unique, here, in this odd place?

Miami is special because it’s at the bottom of a state that is at the bottom of the country. In the early 90s, Rat Bastard’s Esync label released a live at Churchill’s compilation appropriately titled “Music Generated By Geographical Seclusion and Beer.” We’re a major city because we’re a major tourism spot, but we’re still not yet a major market for art and music in the same way Baltimore or Chicago or Philadelphia is, so we’re left to stew in our own juices. Plus, the city was clearly designed by a blind baboon, so we’re isolated and up against a relatively inaccessible urban layout and public transportation system. All of this puts us ahead of the curve. We’re freaks from the get go.

Who’s performing at Strange Days #4?

I’m really excited about this month’s edition of Strange Days, because the lineup so perfectly represents the night’s quest for diversity. Eric Lopez-Zareno , Alex Diaz , and Ed Wilcox (Temple of Bon Matin) are a super trio that play masterfully improvised free noise with jazz undertones. They only get together whenever Ed is in town (he splits his time between South Florida and Philadelphia), so it’s a special, rare collaboration between three artists who already have such exciting solo careers. The Band In Heaven, an extra fuzzy, shoegaze band from West Palm Beach will be making their Miami debut on the heels of their split release with Surfer Blood side-project, Weird Wives. Opening acts include Peasants With Feathers aka Mr. Feathers, Otto Von Schirach’s voodoo witch doctor playing electronic “space music,” and Dismas Gestas, a performance troupe bred from the Monday open mic at Churchill’s that plays self-described “5,000 year old hip-hop.”

What makes Strange Days different from the Justice Yeldham/Squelchers show on Sept. 1?

Strange Days is a monthly experimental showcase where we try to put together the most diverse local lineup possible. Give people a rock band (psych, post-punk) to keep their bearings, some noise, and then some really deep acts that don’t usually make it on the indie/hipster/whatever club circuits. The best example so far would be Mz. Ologist, a crowd-pleasingly raunchy erotic poetess we had at Strange Days #3. The show on the first is a special event part of Justice Yeldham’s upcoming tour of the U.S.. While Yeldham would certainly fit in on a Strange Days lineup, the show at Churchill’s is tailored more specifically to him and his act, which consists of bashing his face with a pane of glass mic’d and hooked up to pedals. Intense headliner so we’ve got an intense lineup: Miami’s best black metal bands, Slashpine and Hellmass, The Laundry Room Squelchers (of course), a handful of other really wild noise and electronic music acts in the bar and on the back patio. In short, the difference boils down to the vision of a thematic monthly showcase vs. the particularly curated style of a specific show.

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I enjoyed this! You can tell Matt is very smart and passionate about his various projects.

— Arielle Castillo · Aug 26, 02:29 PM · #

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