By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
In the last two weeks, two Denton-based acts received contracts from the Sacramento-based Waaga Records, a brand-new subsidiary/sister label of Lefse Records. (Yeah, the same Lefse Records who signed Neon Indian and Denton-based Sunnybrook.) So far, of the two acts that Waaga's courted, Bryce Isbell's futuro-lounge act FUR has already inked a deal, while experimental electro-noise duo Florene spent most of last week ironing out minor details of its contract.
After several conversations with both Aaron Mollet and Gavin Guthrie of Florene, though, their signing too seems imminent.
"It's gonna happen," Waaga head honcho Matt Kilbourne said last week from the label's Sacramento office. "I can see it being done in a matter of days."
As far as Google search engines are concerned, the fledgling label didn't really exist until early last week, and Kilbourne jokes about "just throwing up a MySpace" earlier in the week.
"Yeah, we're like brand-new," Kilbourne says. "It's been in the works for a while, but we've only been signing bands for the past two weeks."
The label's already signed two other acts with local connections—Philadelphia-based outfit Power Animal (which last spring recorded in Denton with Joel North and Bruce Blay of Sleep Whale after meeting the band while touring the East Coast) and Baltimore's Soft Cat (whose Neil Sanzgiri was formerly in local act Voot Cha Index).
The signing of all of those acts can be traced back to mid-November, when the guys from Sleep Whale dropped by Lefse HQ while touring.
"They brought us a bunch of CDs and music to check out," Kilbourne says. "And we liked what we heard."
Waaga's focus will be "digital distribution" through New York-based label/distributor The Orchard, which currently channels music to entities like iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster and the like for dozens of indie labels ranging from SST Records to Cleopatra to Nuclear Blast. The label, Kilbourne says, will also supply a limited number of physical copies to the bands and online retailers.
And while the idea of digital distribution with limited physical copies may trouble some bands, FUR's Isbell isn't concerned: "It's electronic music. It's digital. It just makes sense."
Mollet agrees, saying that the label seems like a perfect fit for Florene.
"It'll mean full-on North American digital distribution for us," he says. "And we'll get copies to sell at shows, and the CDs will be available online."
As of Sunday evening, Guthrie said the contract should "be in the mail any day now—probably tomorrow. We're ready to do it, and we're pretty confident to be working with Waaga."