Oakland’s independent Slumberland Records label fuses pop and noise
on December 27, 2012
Since 1989, Mike Schulman has run Slumberland Records. His label specializes in fusing pop, reminiscent of 60s girl groups and The Byrds, with “horrible noise.” “When you put the two together, to me there’s something alchemical that happens,” Schulman says. The label was founded in Washington, D.C., but Schulman brought it with him when he moved to the East Bay. He says that, visiting before he moved to Oakland, the beautiful weather and the jazz record selection at Berkeley’s Amoeba enticed him.
In 2009, Slumberland celebrated its 20th anniversary with concerts on both coasts. Other milestones, Schulman says, include releasing early records by the bands Velocity Girl, Lilys and Stereolab. Schulman himself has been in several Slumberland groups, including Manatee, Powderburns and Black Tambourine.
Slumberland went on hiatus between 2003 and 2006. “When I started putting new stuff out again, I kind of found the Pains [of Being Pure at Heart] and Crystal Stilts and Cause Commotion, and this group of Brooklyn bands. They didn’t sound like what we had done before, but they definitely knew about it,” Schulman says. “It was just good timing, I think.” Slumberland releases music digitally and on CD, but specializes in vinyl, especially color records.
Today, Slumberland’s acts are receiving close attention from indie pop fans, and Schulman says that he’s looking forward to 2013 releases from Veronica Falls and the Oakland bands Weekend and Wax Idols. But the business of running an independent label in an era of piracy, iTunes and streaming services is difficult. “All the other stuff of ‘God, how can I pay the bills,'” Schulman says, “is just not what really moves me.”
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