Monday, April 13, 2009

Field Notes #2

So, I've decided to shift the focus of my project a little bit to what I mentioned in the end of my first field notes post.  I've decided to do a sort of comparison between Brooklyn bands on major labels (MGMT) vs. Brooklyn bands on indie labels (Yeasayer).  I emailed an interview, well interview questions, to Yeasayer a little while ago and am still waiting on their responses, and hopefully I get them before the final topic post's due date.  Some examples of questions that I sent them were: 
"Where are all of you originally from?" 
"Why did you decided to settle in Brooklyn?" 
"What made you ultimately decide on signing with WeAreFree and what's it like to be on a smaller label?" 
"How influential is WeAreFree on the musical creativity process, if they are at all?  With the upcoming album, did they choose a producer for you, or is that your own choice?"

I also found some great videos of interviews with Yeasayer.  Here's one, courtesy of, where they discuss the making of pop music, production values of songs, and feelings about major labels:

Here's another video, courtesy of, that focuses on the Brooklyn scene in general, and Yeasayer and other bands such as Grizzly Bear and A Place to Bury Strangers talk a little bit about the shift of the NYC music scene to Brooklyn:

In this one, courtesy of, Yeasayer performs 2080, a single from their album All Hour Cymbals, for KEXP, then they answer a few interview questions about such things as where they're all from and how they got their name out there.  I guess what I found most interesting about this video, which I just saw for the first time tonight (Monday, April 13) was that new york noise decided to show their Yeasayer segment and their MGMT music video back to back. I'm not sure why they did this, but I like it, and it makes me feel like I've picked two bands that other people maybe are trying to look at together too. Anyway, here's the video:

So, I'm going to be trying to look at why bands choose indie labels over major labels (with the focus being on those that I've chosen from Brooklyn).  I may also be exploring more the idea of selling out, what it means to other people, what it means to bands, etc.  I'm really hoping that Yeasayer gets back to me by the time the final blog post is due.  I also am going to try to get in contact with MGMT, and if I can't do that, I'm hoping I will at least be able to talk to one of Columbia's reps to see what they do in terms of producing their bands, and also how the promotional aspects of their company works.  Along that same idea, I think I'm going to see the same thing with Yeasayer's label We Are Free.


  1. I can give you answer to your questions.

    Sir James Winnie

  2. This is a really interesting topic and I think the question of major vs. indie will always be relevant in the music industry. I was just discussing this with a friend the other day. A rap artists that we are both familiar with chose to sign with a smaller independent label and his reasoning(via Twitter) was that "explaining how the suits wanted to fit me in a cookie cutter....and y indie was the best route....pops "fuck suits then son" turns music up" ... I think that a lot of bands going indie has to do a lot with that!

  3. Looks like a great project. I wonder if the control that mainstream labels exert on their bands is exaggerated or not, and it sounds like you might find an answer to that.

    Good luck with getting in touch with the bands and reps. Even if you can't though,the videos(especially the first) are pretty informative and directly deal with the bands' opinions on labels and production, which is just perfect