This Friday June 17, Le Bain presents a night with Throne of Blood. The label was created in 2006 by iconic New York band The Rapture and James Friedman. We caught James on his way back from a TOB European Tour. It was time for a chat, while sipping a Bloody Mary.
The Standard: James, it seems nobody really knows how you guys came up with the name. Is it a cinephile reference to the 1957 movie by Kurosawa? Or it was just meant to be scary?
James Friedman: Vito from The Rapture came up with the name. As I understand things, it’s a reference both to the Kurosawa adaptation of Macbeth and a tune by Jamaican dub legend Prince Jammy. As for the scariness thing, I think its something we all find funny that the name sounds so heavy metal. We are among the least scary dudes ever and we release a lot of melodic and deep dance music. There is comedy in the dissonance between who we are and the brand we’ve created.
How does a label meeting between you and the Rapture look like?
We don’t have a lot of meetings in the sense of everybody sitting around a table and working through an agenda. There is a lot of email correspondence and some very warm and friendly informal hanging. Most of the day to day business gets done without a lot of Rapture involvement. They are quite busy setting up the release of their new album, planning tours, and spending time with their families. The nuts and bolts of production and distribution are things that I handle without a lot of outside involvement.
It is a cliché to say that records do not sell anymore and it is very hard - if not impossible - to run an indie label in 2010’s. What is your super-power?
Running a record label makes for terrible business. Throne of Blood is not something that anybody is getting rich off of. But it is a labor of love in the truest sense. The Rapture have enough on their plate. They don’t need to own a record label. I too am really busy. I am a full time law student and I’m sure I could be spending the time I spend on Throne of Blood studying for instance. But it’s not something I treat as work. Throne of Blood is the embodiment of everything I love about dance music and DJ’ing. It reflects the years and years I’ve spent dancing and collecting records and DJ’ing. It is built from the relationships I’ve nurtured with other DJs and producers. It is an attempt to create a community around an ethos that places the music above profits and still sees a place for vinyl records in the DJ’s toolkit. We don’t have any special powers I don’t think. Instead I think we just bring a degree of honestly and openness to things that I don’t see in a lot of other labels.
Now let’s get to the party stuff. Can you pitch us the line-up for this Friday at Le Bain?
Saarid is a new signing to Throne of Blood. Known to many as Mark Palgy from the band VHS or Beta, Saarid makes a really upfront brand of house music that combines 80’s rhythm programming with 90’s atmospheres to create something that feels very current. His debut 12” comes out in mid August with a remix from the Cosmic Kids.
Harkin & Raney are Throne of Blood veterans and fixtures on the New York scene. Eamon Harkin is behind the legendary Mister Saturday Night and Mister Sunday parties, and has released a few 12”s of edits on his own Subway Series imprint as well as on Wurst Music. Steve Raney is a bit more undercover, but he’s one of Throne of Blood’s secret weapons. He’s a killer DJ and his solo productions are going to blow people away when his 12” drops in October. Harkin & Raney’s “Shakes On” EP comes out next month and is backed by a fantastic remix by Naum Gabo.
Cosmic Kids are one of Throne’s newest signings and represent everything that is really exciting and fresh about Los Angeles these days. Young, inventive and deeply rooted in classic house and disco, their original productions, remixes and DJ sets are really exciting. This is their second ever gig in NYC and their first since the tremendous success of “Reginald’s Groove” which came out a couple months ago on Throne of Blood
Let’s talk about The Rapture. The buzz says the long awaited new album is amazing. It will be released by DFA Records in September. It is produced by Philippe Zdar of Cassius fame, who also worked on the last Phoenix and Beastie Boys. Do you have any inside stories about it?
Honestly, I don’t. The Rapture went to Paris last year and recorded the album with Philippe Zdar and I was fortunate enough to hear it as soon as mastering was completed. I have been watching from the sidelines on this one. The Rapture is an entity that I am not involved with directly. They are my partners in Throne of Blood and I want very much for the label to be a source of pride for the band and vice versa. But it is not my role to get mixed up in their business. That said, I know that they worked very diligently to construct an international release plan. They wanted to make sure that they found the right labels to ensure the new album finds the right audience and gets the kind of support it deserves. Beyond that, all I can really say is that In The Grace of Your Love is really really excellent. The songs are great, Luke’s voice sounds absolutely tremendous, and Zdar’s production is really quirky and awesome.
Friday June 17, Le Bain presents Throne of Blood. Featuring The Rapture DJ, Cosmic Kids, Harkin & Raney and Saarid. Doors open 10pm.