James (Fox Food Records): Hey Kate, inspired by the really ace Super Fan 99 Records and Sports Day Records interview I’m going to throw some questions your way.. feel free to throw some back at me! So, take us to the beginning.. how did Track and Field Records start? And where did the name come from?
Kate (Track and Field Records): Hi James! This is so cool! I had been obsessively thinking about launching my own label for at least a year before we released our first EP. I’m actually opening up some journals I kept at the time, there’s all these photos and ideas I had for the label I wanted to start. I was living in Seattle, had finished up internships at Hardly Art and another label / art space called Cairo and wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. Then I got a job in vinyl manufacturing here in Portland, OR. I knew the timing was perfect a few months after I moved and became friends with some members of Tender Age, who had just reconnected their band and were recording some demos. It was a really exciting time.
The name came from a few things, one being a reference to a Belle & Sebastian song. They have always been a huge inspiration for me as well as that time, the early-mid 90’s, in the indie pop world. Labels like Slumberland, Sarah, K recs were all very inspiring for me at the beginning.
How did you decide on the name Fox Food Records? And did you have any inspiration?
James: Oh wow that’s really cool! My wife and I are huge Belle and Sebastian fans!
The name Fox Food came from a trip we took to see some relatives in southern England a few years ago. We were driving along the road and I saw a building with FOX FOOD written in big white letters on the roof and I thought it was a really weird thing to write on your roof and it stuck with me.. When I needed a name for the label it came back to me and it just seemed right.. Strangely we’ve made that trip probably 20 times since and I’ve never seen the building again.
As for my inspiration to start a label, I’d been toying with the idea for a while and then I read a feature on the rad Furious Hooves by Bandcamphunter and it just blew me away, it just made me believe that I could really have a go at it. From there I found Orchid Tapes and Gnar Records and Fire Talk and Burger Records and my mind was blown again. So many cool people putting out such cool music. Then like at more or less the same time, my best friend Andy (who records as Newfoundland) sent me a new EP he’d been working on and I just saw it as fate, I just knew it had to be our first release!
So, working at an ace label like Hardly Art must have been an amazing experience. What kind of things did you learn? And did the experience help you get Track and Field going?
Kate: That’s such a cool story about the label name! Sounds like it was meant to be.
Furious Hooves! We were just talking about Ryan the other day, what a great label. Some other really cool ones in there too.
Yes for sure, working there was definitely an amazing experience. It was my second internship at a label (first one was at Drag City). I had just graduated from school for music business and moved to Seattle and it was the best possible move for me. (they were one of my favorite labels in school, so it was a dream!) Basically, I assisted the guy in charge of radio & retail, which meant stuffing a lot of envelopes with CDs and one sheets, sending out mail letters, other things like that. At the time, their office was a small little room in the Sub Pop offices and it was just neat to be there, seeing and hearing all the day to day happenings. And yeah, I’d say it did help! I still keep in touch with the guy I interned for, and he was really supportive of the label when we first started so that definitely helped.
How about you, were there ways you were involved in music before starting the label?
James: Yeah, I reached out to Furious Hooves after reading the Bandcamphunter feature. Ryan and the other members of the Furhoof family like Rachael Perisho (who releases music as Heavy Boots) have been so kind and supportive of Fox Food which is really great!
I can only imagine how spending time working at Drag City and Hardly Art gave you a real insight into the workings of labels that size! Must have been such a cool experience.
I’ve been making music for about 15 years or so and have released it under various monikers to varying degrees of success.. but I had zero experience of running a label or even knowing any of things involved. When I was first starting up the label some people thought it was complete and utter madness that I’d even attempt it without any experience. But for me, I guess it meant I had an opportunity to do it the way I wanted. I could make it up as I went along which was just so exciting!
As you well know, I’m a huge, huge fan of Track and Field Records! How have you been able to release so many amazing bands/artists?
Kate: Oh nice! Those new Heavy Boots tapes are beauties. That is great though, support from other people who are doing what you do is such a wonderful thing.
Can I just say that I’m so glad you went for it! Even with experience, I feel like part of it really is just making it up as you go and talking to friends in the small label community and just doing your best.
Yeah, the number of releases we’ve done in the past year and a half definitely exceeded my exceptions. In the middle of our first release, I was kind of unsure of what we were going to do next. Our second release, which was a debut EP on cassette from Azul Toga, happened largely because of timing. He was a friend online and I noticed that he was going to make a few tapes for his new solo project and after hearing it I knew I wanted to be involved. I also don’t think that would have happened if Kyle Reigle (boyfriend and label partner) had not moved here that January with his friend Jonathan and their tape dubbing machine. I really just feel in love with releasing on that format. Within the 6 month stretch, people like Chris and Joel from Permanent Vacation reached out to us and Manny from Citrus City, which is how we met Matt from Dear Tracks. It’s really all been from the support of friends who like what we’re doing. There’s a good handful of people that have helped shape the label to be what it is today.
What’s it been like for you as far as finding albums and EPs to release? Do you have any goals in the back of your mind for the label?
James: Haha yeah, I’m so glad I went for it too! It’s been an amazing, amazing experience so far. What’s struck me most is people’s willingness to connect and get involved, even across continents! It’s a beautiful, awe inspiring advert for the internet.
So the way that FFR has managed to release the bands/artists we have done is just a combination of things really. One is me eagerly writing to bands like Oh, Rose, Henry & Lew, GRNDMS and Fazed on a Pony expecting a firm but polite ‘NO’ but getting a lovely and kind ‘YES’ back!
The other is amazing artists like Fanpage, Henoheno and Sabbatical Wilderness contacting me directly about the possibility of releasing their music!
The fact that I can call all these amazing people my friends is just the best bit for me. I’ve been very lucky.
As for goals, I try not to set too many. Just keep on putting out music that I love, hopefully enabling it to find as many ears as possible. That’s what inspires me. Longer term goals I guess, I really want to do a vinyl release at some point and maybe look at organising some kind of Fox Food festival somewhere, someday… we’ll see..
What about you? What are your goals and aims for Track and Field?
Kate: Totally! It is a beautiful thing.
That’s always such an exciting time, when you reach out and the band is down! Also when you hear from artists that you really like. The best experiences I’ve had with a release are with artist’s that at the end I can call my friends, which are definitely most of them. It’s one of the nice things about running a small operation, having a label family mentality and working with people you like who are as excited as you are.
Yes! Those are great goals. I am definitely going to own the first Fox Food vinyl release when that happens. For me, it’s kind of the same deal. Continue releasing music and reach as many people as we can. I’d love to do more co-releases, our next release is one that I’m really stoked on. And doing more 12″ releases as well, we just had our first one this year and I’d love to have a couple more next year if possible.
James: Oh yeah, co-releases are great.. we should definitely do a split release sometime! 🙂 So ace to talk to you Kate and to learn more about the rad Track and Field Records. Thank you! <3 <3 <3
Kate: Absolutely! That’d be the best. And thank you James, for chattin with me about Fox Food. It was super nice! 🙂