Full Spectrum Records
Originally founded in 2008 in Greensboro, North Carolina by Andrew Weathers and Andrew Marino as a means to document their early collaborations, the label has since evolved into a collective community of musicians, experimentalists and artists of various disciplines who share a common goal: to discover and produce exciting new sonic shapes for interested ears everywhere.
I started FS in 2008 with Andrew Marino when we were living in Greensboro, NC. Like a lot of labels, we started it because we were making work and didn’t have an outlet for it & no label interest otherwise. It made more sense to just put a name on it rather than putting together endless self-released CD-rs. I’m a decade in & running FS is still one of the most satisfying of my many pursuits.
What are some of the challenges you see as a label owner?
I don’t really see myself as the owner of anything, it’s more like there’s an entity that I try to manage to the best of my abilities. Lately the main challenge for FS has been following the ebb and flow of the endlessly fickle underground music press. As much as we don’t want to admit it, the underground scene is trendy and cliquey to its own detriment.
There’s an intense feeling of “keep up or get left behind” and that’s just something that I’m not interested in or able to do. Our economy of attention is incredibly crowded, and the only thing that I know to do is to continue doing the best work possible and hope that it matters to someone. Obviously it’s incredibly difficult to sell music in 2018, especially since we deal in primarily abstract and unusual music, but I accepted that a long time ago.
I would like for it to be easier to break even on releases, but really only so that we could release more. We’re very lucky that FS cultivated a small group of people who regularly pick up our releases. That really keeps us afloat. I am endlessly impressed by people who continue to start labels without major outside funding, that would be such a daunting task. It’s definitely a double-edged sword. I’m grateful that barriers to entry are becoming lower & a certain class of gate-keepers are inching towards irrelevance, but I wish I could keep up & support all of the things going on that I think are interesting.
What’s your take on Spotify / streaming services?
Spotify and other streaming services are vultures and bloodsuckers, but there have always been vultures and bloodsuckers in cultural industries. Our participation in those systems is hesitant, skeptical, and out of necessity rather than appreciation. Without a doubt these services are taking advantage of musicians and so many of us willfully follow them, knowing that we only lose under Spotify’s imposed future. I really think of anyone boosting Spotify at this point as having Stockholm Syndrome or an inside connection that not many of us are lucky enough to have.
When Spotify controls who makes “real money” by landing on their big playlists, we all lose. Everything that Spotify offers other than paying artists a reasonable wage for our labor is a lackluster consolation prize. Our request is simple and straightforward yet these people are bending over backwards to do everything except the thing asked of them by the people whose backs they’re standing on. I’ve said for a long time that underground musicians need to unionize in no small part due to unfair wage practices perpetuated by people like Spotify. A (very) small step in the right direction would be cancelling our Spotify premium accounts & diverting that amount to artists & labels on Bandcamp: the money isn’t much but it amounts to more significant support.
Is there a specific focus to your label as far as genres or local/regional aspect of music?
There is a specific focus, but it’s so abstract that it’s almost not worth articulating. The focus isn’t aesthetic or geographic, though both are considerations. The link is more in spirit than anything else. We’ve almost never released work by someone that wasn’t familiar to someone in the FS fam in a Real Life sort of way. The quasi-mysterious separation of artists from real human bodies and personalities isn’t really something that we’re interested in. So in that sense, the focus is regional to physical space.
Do you believe that music could bring social change?
Yes, absolutely. I think that folks who say it can’t have a pretty limited notion of what ‘social change’ means. If the assumption is that the only social change that matters is that of Official Policy, then sure, I guess there’s an argument there. Music does not in fact, factor into the way our governments work, for better or worse. But I think if we’re talking about how social change actually happens we have to go beyond that sort of thinking. Good creative work shapes and changes the way we perceive and move through the world.
Music is an aesthetic representation of the structures that we want to build. It only makes sense that music is the root of social change, no matter what our personal definitions. Even just speaking personally, music shapes my morality, music shapes my political outlook, music shapes every facet of the way that I live. All of that is only possible if we’re able to take things that we learned from the creative work that we appreciate and apply it to the rest of our lives, which I think is a valuable exercise.
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