This spotlight is a monthly feature showcasing some of our favorite independent record labels. To start the year off right, we caught up with alternative pop label Cascine for the month of January. Check out the interview below with Cascine’s founder Jeff Bratton as he explains what how the label came together, under the radar popstars, highlights of 2014, and tips for new artists.
Who is all part of the foundation at Cascine?
Jeff: Our core team is Sandra Croft, Andi Wilson and myself. Sandra’s our publicist. She lives in London. Andi’s our project manager and also does press for us. She’s based in Brooklyn with me. Other important people are Thom Ulmer, our visual artist, and Michael Madrid who handles our website. Marchese Taylor manages incoming demos for us.
How did you all meet?
J: Sandra and I met in 2009 when I was working with the Swedish label Service and she was working for Freeman PR. Freeman was doing press for Service releases and we grew close through that. Andi started with us as an intern a couple years back and once we saw how sharp and capable she is, gave her a permanent position. Thom came to us through Russ Manning and Madrid is an old friend of the Sportags. Marchese’s my girlfriend, who just has a great ear and knows what we’re looking for in the music we receive.
Cascine’s focus is described as “alternative pop”, what acts inspired that thought?
J: Our reference points are pretty wide and include everything from The Cure and Cocteau Twins to Sade and George Michael. New Order left a big mark. Freestyle greats like Prefab Sprout and Scritti Politti were important. Everything Sarah Records. Morr Music was an inspiration once, so was Naked Music. The music coming out of Gothenburg in the 2000s influenced Cascine and we’re also nuts about pop legends like Janet Jackson and Mariah.
Who are some artists now that’s a great representation of alt pop?
J: Ryn Weaver is exciting. So is Ana Caprix. The new Taylor Swift album is excellent and Tinashé is a label favorite. Lydia Ainsworth wrote a killer record last year, so did Caribou. Dutch artist BEA is promising. Throwing Shade. Banoffee. We love Bar. Dej Loaf is rad and we really respect what labels like Young Turks, 1080p, Arbutus and Scissor & Thread are doing.
What was a memorable moment of the year at Cascine? It could be a release or a story.
J: We hosted a label tour last summer called Cascine & Friends where we took three of our artists, Chad Valley, Lemonade & Yumi Zouma, to three different cities and co-hosted parties with friend labels, 100% Silk, Arbutus & Ghostly. It was a ton of work, but a total blast. The camaraderie and personal time together was priceless.
With all the year end lists thats happened, what’s your top 5 albums?
J: Andras & Oscar – Café Romantica
Bar – Welcome to Bar
Bing & Ruth – Tomorrow Was The Golden Age
LNRDCROY – Much Less Normal
Mark McGuire – Along the Way
Taylor Swift – 1989
Plans for what’s next and 2015?
J: We recently signed several new artists, most of which have releases on deck for early 2015. We’re in the process of a fun collab with Manicure Records, which we’re all really excited about. We’re doing something at SXSW this year and then hopefully the label tour again this summer. Our singles label, CSCN, will continue to be a focus too.
How did you hear about et aliae/most of the artists on the label? New music discovery etc.
J: Et aliae was an Andi find. We were gonna do a single with her on CSCN, but when we heard the tracks she turned in, decided to sign her directly to Cascine. The A&R process is mixed these days. It’s become more of a Soundcloud and Bandcamp game, versus a blog thing like it was five year ago. A lot of stuff comes to us through other artists, agents, managers, etc. we have relationships with. But we have a pretty focused aesthetic, so we’re usually aware of new artists operating in our zone.
Do you have a tip or two for new artists and new labels?
J: Have an aesthetic, but be flexible with it. Stay informed without obsessing about what everyone around you is doing. Cities like NY are noisy. Make space to hear yourself think.
This one is just for fun but if you can describe Cascine as a plate of food, what would it be and how would it be arranged?
J: At this point, we’d probably be the Salmon Teriyaki lunchbox from Sakura on Manhattan Ave. That place is a go-to for most of us who work in Greenpoint. Or maybe the Nicoise salad at Le Gamin.
About the author: Briana Cheng has a lot of feelings that she sometimes writes about but mostly she takes twitter screenshots of online dating apps, follow her @banacrisp.