Fashion and music have always been intertwined.
From the jean-wearing, slick-haired rockers of the ‘50s to the long-haired, flower-sporting hippies of the ‘60s, on to the stylish duds of disco dancers, the leather-clad and provocatively pierced toughs of the punk era, through new wave spandex and big hair, flannel-prone grunge stars, the anything-goes ‘90s, and all the way to the present. Now a record label has sprung up in Western Mass that once again merges the two art forms at least in name.
Fashion People Records of Amherst is the brainchild of musicians and friends Ian Coss, Alex Chakour, and Howie Feibusch. Named after a phrase from Coss and Chakour's high school days, when after rehearsal as members of the pit band for a school musical the pair began jamming in a basement to a song with only the words “Fashion People Go,” the label sprouted into being 10 years later when Coss and Chakour joined forces with Feibusch ready to pool their combined knowledge into a single concentrated effort.
The hope, according to a press release from Fashion People, is to "remain a site of music production," that supports artists and helps them make records “all the way through pressing and distribution,” using its members skills and resources to share the work load.
To learn more, Northeast Underground caught up with Fashion People’s Ian Coss via e-mail, and asked him to share some of the history behind this new Pioneer Valley record label and to give a preview of what music fans might expect next from Fashion People. Read below to see what he had to say.
Underground: How would you describe the process of starting a record label?
Coss: The process of starting label was basically a lot of talk at first. In this day and age, it is pretty easy to start a label on paper: just make a logo and a Facebook page and you have a label. It got serious when it was time to put down real money. Our main cost was mastering and pressing the three releases we will be showcasing at the Iron Horse. Laying out that money was of course disconcerting, but it felt better doing that as a group. We knew we were all committed to the music and to each other, and now that the money is spent and the records are here, we are all doubly motivated to make it happen.
What were some things you wished you knew before you embarked on such a venture?
What do I wish I’d known...I wish I’d known that I could have done this before. I have played with so many bands and put out so many records without any kind of label support. When you self-release an album, you are your own label and you have to do all the work a label would do. Fashion People Records is basically a way for artists to share that work and pool their resources to everyone’s benefit. Even in our short operating history, we have all seen real gains and opportunities from that collective structure.
Watch the video for the song "Ten Days" by Ian Coss here:
Walk me through the operation of Fashion People. How does the label work with bands and artists? What services does Fashion People offer?
In terms of the label operations, we each bring our own skills to the table and tend to split the work along those lines. Alex [Chakour] is obviously focused on the studio work. Howie [Feibusch] has a background in visual art so he handles the graphic design and website. I am organized and I like writing, so I am generally in charge of PR and finances. These aren’t exactly job titles, just the roles we have carved out for ourselves. No one was willing to take on the role of social media czar, so we split it three ways: one person for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For now, it is just the three of us, making it work alongside our other responsibilities and projects. The model of the label has always been full service: from production to pressing to distribution.
How would you characterize the label’s evolution?
The label is in such an early stage that it can’t help but evolve quickly. As I mentioned earlier, the label was founded by artists as a way to share in the logistical and financial burdens of making records. The next step is to expand our artist base beyond that group of founding artists, while still maintaining the same level of mutual cooperation and commitment. We are actively working to bring new talent into the FPR fold, but I’d rather not mention specific names.
What are some future projects or recordings the label has planned?
One project we have planned is removing every scrap of equipment from the recording studio, knocking down some walls, and making a nice space for the next round of recording.
What might the audience at the Iron Horse launch party on Friday expect or not expect from the record release show?
The release show is going to be a lot of new music crammed into one night, and a testament to what musicians can do if they work together.
Fashion People Records’ Launch and Triple Record Release Party featuring performances by Howard, Ian Coss and Temporary Friends, Dec. 12, $8-10, 10 p.m., Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St., Northampton,(413) 586-8686, www.iheg.com.
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