Metro Times: When and why did you start Spectator Records?
Aaron Warshaw: Sometime last summer. It was something that Ive been thinking about for a couple of years. But theres only so much thinking you can do before you jump in. My first two releases were the Galicja 10-inch and 57 Waltz single over the summer. The plan with those two was to get my bearings and find out what the process is. At the end of the day its what I wanted.
MT: Whats the most rewarding/frustrating part of running a label?
Warshaw: The money part of it to me is just a way of sustaining something I really do enjoy. Its a really fascinating process going from a DAT to a bunch of records being sold around the world.
For me, the most rewarding thing is working with people. The theoretical part of it, the process of making what I think is really good music available.
MT: Was getting distribution a difficult process?
Warshaw: I tracked down this list of 10-12 distributors, wrote up a one-sheet (a one-page, promotional tool describing the music and why a distributor would want to carry it), and faxed it to them. The response ranged from orders based upon one sheet to dont bother calling me back.
But word of mouth has been good. 57 Waltz got a letter from a kid in Wisconsin. Ive gotten E-mail from someone in Germany, Italy, Japan the 10-inch and 7-inch were up on the wall in a store there with a sheet describing the records.
Its pretty amazing that these two singles, without any promotion at all, really, have gotten to where they have.
MT: What was the most crucial thing you learned in the process?
Warshaw: The thing that I really did learn was that youve got to put some money and work behind the records for it to work. Youve got to put in a little more effort to get a better return. At the very least youve done your job.
MT: Whats unique about Detroit and running a Detroit label?
Warshaw: First of all, I think Detroit right now is the perfect place for me to be working out of. Theres a wealth of talent and a vacuum for support for that talent. Compared to a city like Chicago, where theres five or six strong labels. When I started the label, that issue was one of the things, whether Spectator is the thing to fill it is the question. Theres no city like Detroit
Theres as much talent, if not more here, than any city in the country. Whats lacking is support for that talent. In Chicago, it seems as though theres more a sense of community. A few people in the generation thats come before me, I question their motivations, some people are more concerned with preserving their name and position among the local scene than really helping it. At the end of the day, I dont think thats whats important. If you get to a position where you help people, thats more important.
MT: Whats in the future for Spectator?
Warshaw: Maybe having more of a national scope. People think that being part of a local scene is the end. I think weve already accomplished one thing. A friend of mine whos now living in Chicago is doing all of the artwork for the label. That had a big part of selling them. In terms of starting this label, having someone doing all of the artwork, having a unified style was crucial. Like 4AD or Factory. I think that there already is a style or image to Spectator without me saying this is what I want, but it happened naturally. Youre better off letting stuff happen and being surprised.