FoF's Leeor Brown Seeks to Capitalize on Music-Industry Chaos
Leeor Brown owns what some consider to be L.A.'s best electronic label, FoF Music, which is short for Friends of Friends. Though the imprint counts only one full-time employee and has yet to release any best-sellers, it's made major strides. With an ever-expanding roster that includes prolific 22-year-old beatmaker Shlohmo and increasingly popular club producer Salva -- both of whom released critically acclaimed albums in 2011 -- Brown's efforts are drawing notice.
Now 29, Brown had industry exposure from a young age. His stepfather is a former Rolling Stones tour manager who brought Brown along to their concerts. From as young as 11, he'd watch from the sound booth next to celebrities like Madonna.
"I didn't really know what it meant at the time, but looking back, it definitely had a major impact on me," he recalls today, reclining on a leather couch in his Highland Park office.
But Brown's appreciation for hip-hop in his teenage years became a point of contention between him and his stepfather. Growing up in West L.A., he further angered his parents during high school by sneaking out to all-night raves, skipping the DJs to see classic acts like De La Soul.
Attending Hamilton High alongside Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen, Brown later left town for UC Santa Cruz, where he worked in radio and promotions. He fell in love with electronic music while backpacking through Europe and watching Four Tet perform on the beach in France. "I'd smoked hash for the first time ... and I just kind of had this moment. I explicitly remember being, like, 'This is it. This is what I love.' "
Brown subsequently immersed himself in the catalogs of Ghostly International and Morr Music, purveyors of progressive electronic and hip-hop, which he'd use as models for his own label. He won a job in radio promotions and soon joined publicity firm Terrorbird, where he helped start its online marketing department.
He returned to L.A. at the height of the experimental electronic scene in 2008. An experienced publicist by that time, Brown's client roster included weekly club night Low End Theory and pioneering artists like The Gaslamp Killer and Nosaj Thing. But he wanted to contribute more, so he started FoF Music in 2009.
Three years later, he jokes that he's still paying off the credit card bill from his failed first release, a T-shirt accompanied by a downloadable split EP from Daedelus and Jogger. But his work clearly is starting to pay off. Brown was interviewed on the BBC recently, after FoF was featured in DJ Huw Stephens' "Label of Love" segment. It also was featured as electronic arbiter Resident Advisor's "Label of the Month."
Looking through FoF's already dense catalog, it becomes apparent that Brown's main goal is to push musical boundaries. He maintains a notorious distaste for genre distinctions and frequently expresses his appreciation for the evolving manner in which music is sought out and consumed.
Summing up the ethos of FoF Music, he says, "The lines are all blurred now, and I'm trying to exploit that."
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