Kemado Records and its sister label, Mexican Summer, are quite busy to say the least. Over the past six months, both labels moved offices from Manhattan out to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, while simultaneously building a commercial recording studio within the vast new space. They’re also opening up a destination brick-and-mortar record store, organizing a music festival out in Big Sur, California, and of course producing a constant stream of new releases from their roster of artists. I sat down with label owner Andres Santo Domingo and label head Keith Abrahamsson to get the latest and check out their new pad.
When did you decide to make the move to Greenpoint? We just needed more space. We looked all over Manhattan and found a couple of spaces — we looked everywhere. But when we came out to Brooklyn and saw the spaces out here in Greenpoint, we knew we could do a commercial recording studio. We’re going to rent it out a great deal. We’ll keep it busy a lot by ourselves as well, but we want to have it as full as possible.
What’s the square footage of your building? Andres Santo Domingo: It’s about 4,000 square feet on each floor, and the recording studio is 2,000 square feet with 30-foot ceilings in the live recording room. We made the space very functional for everyone to hang out and make it accommodating for anyone that’s recording.
Are you going to have a retail space on the first floor? ASD: Yes. It’s a platform for Mexican Summer and for our belief in limited-edition vinyl — a resurgence that is going on right now. About three other record labels are going to be involved in the beginning, and we’ll sell all of their product there too. One of them is Captured Tracks; another is Sacred Bones, which does limited-edition vinyl releases; and Minimal Wave. We’re also going to have Woodsist’s limited-edition vinyl too. It’s a vinyl co-op store essentially. We’re not going to carry a bunch different labels, nor is the store going to be open every day. It’s a destination where you can go and pick up new releases on vinyl. A lot of things we’d like to do and are thinking of doing with the store: our bands and the other labels will have live shows in the recording studio, record the session, and then press out on a seven-inch. We’re also going to have “store releases” where you can only purchase that release at the store.
Similar to what Jack White’s Third Man Records is doing in Nashville, and the recent pop up store in New York? ASD: Yes, it’s similar, but one thing that Jack White has that we don’t have — and what we’d love to have — is a vinyl pressing plant. You need a big space for that! We have a couple places in Brooklyn though that press vinyl for us though.
Tell me about the festival you’re putting on — Party in the Pines. ASD: It’s going to be at Henry Miller Library out in Big Sur on August 29. There are a lot of awesome bands — a lot we work with, but also bands in the same family as us. Dungen, Ariel Pink, Gang Gang Dance … Vietnam is doing a reunion show. Saviours, Farmer Dave Scher. It’s going to be awesome.
Where did the concept come from? Keith Abrahamsson: This is really the brainchild of Jeff Kaye, who also works at Kemado. He knew the guys of Folk Yeah, who are promoters that put on these shows out at the Henry Miller Library. We’re hoping this will end up being a yearly event. ASD: It’s a one-day festival. It’s only $30, and people can camp there. It’s sort of a reaction to these big three-day festivals. This festival is on a much smaller scale. We can only sell 500 tickets due to the capacity of the venue.
What releases do you have coming up? ASD: Farmer Dave, which we’re really excited about. That comes out in August. A new Langhorne Slim record — we’re getting that project rolling right now. A new Saviours record due out in the fall. Also, we signed a new band on Kemado: The Soft Pack from San Diego. They’re recording their album right now. That will come out in the new year, as will the The Sword’s new record. Between all that, we have a slew of new Mexican Summer releases too. So we’re going to be busy!