Essays — July 12, 2016 13:55 — 0 Comments

CHANNEL Seattle Record Label Fest

On Saturday, the inaugural CHANNEL Seattle Record Label Fest takes over Fred Wildlife Refuge all afternoon and into the night. Over 30 record labels from throughout the region will be showing their wares, with live performances from Hibou, Gaytheist, SSDD and Roladex. While Seattle boasts internationally known independents like Barsuk and, of course, Sub Pop, CHANNEL Fest is focused on highlighting smaller upstart labels found throughout the winding catacombs of the local music scene. Participating labels run the gamut from Help Yourself, who’ve made waves with releases from Chastity Belt, Dude York and Childbirth to Neon Sigh, which is a shoe-gazey collective made up of Black Nite Crash, Golden Gardens and other like-minded outfits.

CHANNEL Fest promises to offer local music folks a chance to get together and swap ideas. Knick Knack Records’ head honcho Joe Johnson is looking forward “to learn[ing] from my colleagues how to better survive as a scrappy little record label,” he says. With releases from local folk stalwarts the Foghorns and theatrical hard rock touring machines Crazy Eyes, Johnson is in full experimentation mode, including “opening some pop up stores around the city later this year, expanding our distribution and finding more ways to work with bands in different and creative ways.” Knick Knack also has releases coming up from Iceland’s Sindri Eldon and the Ways as well as veteran local blues rockers GravelRoad.

Chris McFarlane runs both a label and storefront in Ballard (in the old Josephine building) under the Jigsaw Records moniker. Despite having a well-curated roster of global indie pop on the label (like the outstanding Sleuth from British Columbia), McFarlane is focused on getting the word out about his shop, which carries releases from labels like Slumberland, HHBTM and Kingfisher Bluez. McFarlane explains, “I’ll have the majority of the Jigsaw label releases for sale on the table, but I’ll really be talking up the shop and passing out as many flyers for it as I can.” As for the Jigsaw imprint, he says, “new releases on the label include a trio of debut albums from As Ondas (UK trilingual indiepop), Popincourt (classy French pop) and Blue Jeans (indiepop from Ann Arbor, assisted by Fred Thomas of Saturday Looks Good To Me) – all great, of course!”

CHANNEL Fest promises to be an outstanding way to find your new favorite local bands and meet the people who help them get their music out there. Most importantly, this is your chance to get in on the ground floor. When I lived in San Francisco, I’d hear stories from old timers about how awesome, small and totally local Noise Pop was back in the day. That day is today (actually Saturday) for CHANNEL Fest.


Jon Rooney is a Seattle music connoisseur. See more at

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