In the unpredictable wake of music's digital rebirth, vinyl has experienced a modest boom in popularity, seen by many (with delicious irony) as a replacement for the awkward middleman that is the compact disc. INCHES seeks not only to review the output of L.A.'s healthy vinyl community (artists and labels, indie or otherwise), but to pay dap to those who continue to tend the flame, believing that good music deserves much more than a handful of ones and zeros. Submissions or suggestions? Email us. Find previous INCHES here.
This week, in honor of the second annual Manimal Festival taking place this weekend at Pappy And Harriet's Pioneertown Palace (out in Morongo Valley), INCHES is focusing on one of our favorite L.A. labels, Manimal Vinyl. Home to exceptional releases from round-the-way acts like Hecuba, Rainbow Arabia, and Alexandra Hope — as well as from farther-flung ground-breakers like New Mexico's Rio En Medio and Brighton's Bat For Lashes — Manimal consistently impresses with a well-curated catalog that freely mixes stylishness and experimentalism. Below you'll find an brief interview with label founder Paul Beahan as well as a few of INCHES' favorite releases from the label, including Manimal's inaugural pressing, a Chapin Sisters/Winter Flowers split.
Warpaint's Exquisite Corpse 12-inch EP, sky-and-clouds vinyl, 100 pressed
Warpaint – “Elephants” (MP3) | Due out October 6.
INCHES: First things first, why vinyl?
Paul Beahan: I've been a vinyl addict since the age of 8, originally based on the fact that records looked cooler than cassettes and CDs, and eventually that they sounded a lot deeper. As far as releasing vinyl, the corporate record industry is a machine that has destroyed itself, and I felt getting in the ring with them, releasing shit that would freak people out a bit – doing it with extreme visuals on the vinyl format, hoping to spawn a new wave of record labels that are into taking risks.
IN: How would you describe the label's aural aesthetic?
PB: Weirdness with a mild chance of mainstream pop success. “Weirdness” is a word that I grew up hearing whenever I expressed my personal taste. It was only in the last 20 years that I learned to embrace it. Things and people that a majority of society would find intimidating or inappropriate make me curious, and spreading that bravery in public makes me excited.
IN: Any unforeseen commonalities between running a label and working as a stylist?
PB: I cannot compare the two other than to say they involve two very different aspects of aesthetics. I do like to think that fashion is very important when it comes to the artists on my label. Musicians must have a passion for style if they are to be involved in what we are doing.
Hecuba's Paradise LP, 800 pressed (200 on toxic green vinyl — long gone)
IN: The second Manimal Festival is taking place this weekend. What inspired the annual event?
PB: In June 2008, we did a show in Pioneertown, California, with Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Hecuba, We Are The World, Rainbow Arabia and a bunch of other bands. It was a disaster in my eyes, but so many people were telling me how great it was and later shared so many wild stories about it that I felt it was necessary to try again with a little help from my crew.
IN: How did you come across the location in the first place?
PB: My old friend, alt-country musician Arabella Harrison, told me about Pappy & Harriet's some years ago, and after the label started rolling, the co-owner of Pappy's invited me to do a proper release party for the Madonna tribute record. We had The Tyde, Golden Animals and a few others… It was wonderful: the dead of winter, with a giant blue moon hovering in above us.
The Chapin Sisters / Winter Flowers 12-inch split EP, picture vinyl, 1000 pressed
The Chapin Sisters – “Let Me Go” (MP3) | Out of print.
IN: What's next for Manimal?
PB: We have the Exquisite Corpse re-release from Warpaint on October 13, plus album debuts from We Are The World and VOICEsVOICEs [produced by Prefuse 73] in early 2010. We're also doing the vinyl for Afghani-American singer Ariana Delawari's debut on David Lynch's own label, David Lynch Music Company, which is very exciting for me. I'm super grateful to have even a small part in that release.
Rainbow Arabia's Kabukimono LP, 600 pressed (100 on clear vinyl — long gone)
Vacation Vinyl's Top Ten Best-Sellers: September 12 – 25
01. various – Mata La Pena LP (Mississippi)
02. Girls – Album LP (True Panther Sounds)
03. Municipal Waste – Massive Aggressive (Earache)
04. White Shit – Sculpted Beef LP (PPM)
05. Big Pink – Brief History Of Love LP (4AD)
06. Warpaint – Excusite Corpse EP (Manimal)
07. various – A Orillas Del Magdelena LP (Domino Sound)
08. Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary LP (Sub Pop )
09. Tarentel – You Can't Hide Your Love Forever Vol. 3 7-inch (Geographic North)
10. Sleep – Holy Mountain LP (Kreation)
Vacation Vinyl is located at 4679 Hollywood Blvd., 90027 (323.666.2111).