Matt Sullivan founded Light in the Attic Records in 2001. LITA has reissued significant lost classics by artists including Rodriguez, Betty Davis, Lee Hazlewood, and many others. It has also lovingly released compilations of lost soul, new age, and even country funk gems. While many independent labels have struggled to remain viable, LITA continues to grow, and it’s also become a major distributor for over fifty international labels. I’ve often heard the adjective “timeless” used to describe the music released on LITA. I think that’s accurate, and particularly fascinating at a time when many other labels are focusing on putting out instant hit singles. I was especially excited to talk with Sullivan about how he’s cultivated the label’s growth, preserving its commitment to putting out great music while also meeting the demands of a changing, and often challenging, market. #30 in the Rumpus profile series "Sound & Vision." For the full interview, click here.
Leah Hayes is not only an acclaimed illustrator and graphic novelist, but also a songwriter and musician. She’s the author of several books, including the illustrated short story collection Funeral of the Heart and, most recently, Not So Funny Ha-Ha, which chronicles the experiences of two young women who have abortions. Hayes’s incredible visual work has also appeared in publications including the New Yorker, the New York Times, and McSweeney’s Quarterly, not to mention a Ryan Adams limited edition vinyl release. As a musician, she has written songs for pop and hip-hop artists, and collaborated with David Ivar of Herman Dune, and the band TV on the Radio. Hayes now fronts her own eclectic band, Scary Mansion.
#29 in The Rumpus profile series "Sound & Vision." For the full profile, click here.
Generally speaking, radio today is not terribly adventurous. Whether stations are part of a commercial conglomerate or independently owned and operated, you tend to hear a lot of rigidly formatted, repetitive programming. A notable exception is one of my favorite stations: Jersey City-based WFMU. I recently had the chance to visit and talk with WFMU’s general manager, Ken Freedman. WFMU is freeform and 100% listener supported, which means it doesn’t have a governing institution like a corporation or college that provides it with funding. WFMU also doesn’t accept underwriting, which means it has nothing on its airwaves that resembles a commercial, and it holds only one on-air fundraiser annually. Nevertheless, WFMU is the longest-running freeform radio station in the US. The key to the station’s success has always been its commitment to non-restrictive programming and its unique approach to audience engagement. As Freedman explains, the station’s just-launched morning show will take this approach to an exciting new level. #28 in the Rumpus profile series "Sound & Vision." For the full profile, click here.
Arthur Fournier is an independent dealer of books, serials, manuscripts, and archives. Specializing in late 20th century culture, including underground music and the visual arts, Fournier has helped private as well as institutional clients, including Harvard, New York Public Library, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to add rare materials to their collections. In New York, his mark is also seen in less expected places—for example at the Metrograph, where he has put together a distinctive in-cinema bookstore devoted to both new and out-of-print publications, including first-edition biographies and film journals, and at Sonos, where he’s curated an exhibition of iconic music zines including PUNK Magazine, the East Village Eye, and New York Rocker. I was excited to learn more about how Fournier developed his niche, and how digital access has both enriched and complicated the work of archiving and collecting. #27 in the Rumpus profile series "Sound & Vision." For the full profile, click here.
Mark Alan Stamaty is a Society of Illustrators four-time medalist, and the author-illustrator of ten books, including Who Needs Donuts? (1973, 2003), Alia’s Mission (2005), and Shake, Rattle & Turn that Noise Down!: How Elvis Shook Up Music, Me and Mom (2010). He is also widely known for his incredible work as a cultural and political cartoonist. Stamaty’s panoramic centerfold cartoons of Greenwich Village and Times Square, which appeared in the Village Voice in 1977 and 1978, were reproduced as iconic posters and led to a series of comic strips for the Voice, including MacDoodle St., which was later published as a comic strip novel. In 1981, Stamaty was tapped by the Washington Post to create the comic strip Washingtoon for the op-ed page, which was subsequently picked up by more than forty papers. He was the political cartoonist for TIME magazine from 1994–1996, and from 2001–2003 he wrote the monthly comic strip Boox for the New York Times Book Review. Beyond recurring strips, Stamaty has also created covers for the New Yorker, The New Republic, and many others. His music-related New York street scenes have graced the cover of Will Hermes’s book Love Goes to Buildings on Fire, and most recently, the walls of the new Sonos store on Greene Street in New York City, where we had a chance to discuss his life and work. #26 in the Rumpus profile series "Sound & Vision." For the full profile, click here.
While still in his early twenties, Brendan Toller released his first feature film, I Need That Record!, in 2008. Via interviews with Thurston Moore, Mike Watt, Ian MacKaye, and Noam Chomsky et al., the film examines myriad reasons behind the closure of thousands of independent record stores in the early aughts. Toller’s latest film is Danny Says, a fascinating documentary on the life and times of Danny Fields. As a publicist, manager, and all-around connector, Fields played a major role in shaping the music and culture of the late 20th century: working with artists including the Doors, Lou Reed, Nico, Judy Collins, the Stooges, the MC5, and the Ramones. Danny Says follows Fields from Harvard Law dropout, to Warhol’s Factory, to Elektra Records, and beyond. The film was awarded Kickstarter’s Project of the Day (out of 5,000 projects), and had its World Premiere at South By Southwest in 2015 where it was named one of Variety’s “13 Breakout Films of SXSW.” Magnolia Pictures released Danny Says theatrically on September 30th, 2016. #25 in the Rumpus profile series "Sound & Vision." For the full profile, click here.
In the past couple of years it has become nearly impossible to avoid a certain genre of New York documentary that can best be described as urban eulogy. But The Lost Arcade, directed by Kurt Vincent and written by Irene Chin, isn’t just another wistful goodbye to the dirty boulevards of pre-gentrification New York. It’s a nostalgia trip back to a time where arcades were magnets for socially awkward, disaffected teens, some with literally nowhere else to go. It’s also, perhaps less intentionally, a complicated narrative about adaptation and survival. For the fill review click here.
Brooklyn-based music photographer Ebru Yildiz's portraits and concert photos regularly appear in venues including Pitchfork, NPR, and the New York Times. Complex has lauded Yildiz as one of “The 50 Greatest Music Photographers Right Now.” Yildiz was a long-time regular at the beloved underground venue Death By Audio, where she documented its growth from a fledgling guitar pedal effects company and recording space to a DIY community and proving ground for emerging artists like Ty Segall, Future Islands, and A Place to Bury Strangers. When its building was taken over by VICE Media in 2014, Death By Audio became yet another casualty of Brooklyn’s rapid-fire gentrification, but Yildiz’s new self-published book We’ve Come So Far: The Last Days of Death By Audio celebrates the energy and vitality she experienced there.
#24 in the Rumpus profile series "Sound & Vision." For the full profile, click here.
In conjunction with the fortieth anniversary of the release of the Ramones’s self-titled debut album, the Queens Museum and the GRAMMY Museum have partnered to present Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk, a two-part bicoastal exhibition celebrating the lasting influence of the band. The first part, which opened in Queens in April and runs through the end of July, focuses on the Ramones’s connections to visual culture through music, fashion, fine art, comics, and film. The Ramones’s famous logo was designed by Arturo Vega, who has often been called “the fifth Ramone.” As the band’s artistic director and spokesman, Vega was responsible for everything from merchandise design to lighting, but he was by no means alone in cultivating the Ramones’s image. To pay tribute to three others who had a hand in shaping the look of the Ramones, and more broadly the visual aesthetics of punk, I’m taking a departure from Sound & Vision’s usual one-on-one interview format. What follows is an edited and condensed transcript of a June 19 panel discussion at the Queens Museum. Among the participants was Punk Magazine co-founder John Holmstrom, chief photographer Roberta Bayley and Blondie co-founder and guitarist Chris Stein, who was also a contributing editor/photographer at Punk. The panel was hosted by the exhibition’s guest curator Marc H. Miller. #23 in the Rumpus profile series "Sound & Vision." For the full profile, click here.
Born to Mexican parents, and raised in East Los Angeles, Alice Bag (née Armendariz) became one of LA punk’s first frontwomen in the mid-70s as the lead singer and co-founder of the Bags. She went on to perform in several other groundbreaking bands, including Castration Squad, Cholita, and Las Tres. Bag has been featured in Penelope Spheeris’s seminal punk documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, and her influence has also been highlighted in the Smithsonian exhibit, “American Sabor: Latinos in US Popular Music.” Still active musically, Bag has just released her self-titled solo debut album Alice Bag on Don Giovanni Records. For Bag, punk has always been more than a musical genre. It’s also a vibrant and essential form of activism. #22 in the Rumpus profile series "Sound & Vision." For the full profile, click here.