Interview with Jeffrey Silverstein of Singles Club
I am a big fan of writing and music, so anything that combines the two in an interesting way will get my attention. I was excited, then, to learn about a very cool creative endeavor called Singles Club, which mixes music and writing and much more.
Billing itself as part record club, part music journal, Singles Club mixes an exclusive quarterly limited edition vinyl release with a digital print magazine composed of a few pieces which connect to the release. Readers are even encouraged to press play as they read the articles for a full-on multimedia experience. Plus, the project has absolutely stunning design. The web layout is clean and crisp, fully functional, and lovely to look at. I don’t have any of the physical records, but they look to have excellent and aesthetically pleasing packaging. Singles Club mixes the best of analog, hand-crafted, and the communal with modern means of technology and consumption and is definitely something you all should check out.
The first volume is out now. It focuses on Daniel Bachman, a talented guitarist. It is a highly pleasurable experience listening to his naturalistic guitar picking as you read the evocative prose by Sunny Eckerle. The third feature is a selection of Daniel’s recent record picks from his tour. Sandwiched between is an insightful discussion with Josh Rosenthal, owner of Tompkins Square Records – who has released some of Daniel’s music.
Through a successful Kickstarter campaign, the team expects to release three more quarterly editions for the first publication year. That means four digital journals and four 7-inch records. If you are interested in supporting the project, the best thing you can do is subscribe. And check out the Singles Club shop for associated releases and other goodies. I am very much looking forward to seeing how this project will evolve. It’s a great idea and so well executed. Look them up on twitter (@singlesclubfm) and Facebook.
Also, I spoke with one of the project’s creators, Jeffrey Silverstein about the project. Here’s what he had to say.
GP: Where did you get the idea to mix audio and a magazine? From both the perspective of a product (releasing records and articles) and as something to merge together (you listen to a song while reading an article…which is about the artist of the song)?
Jeffrey: We wanted to create the most immersive experience possible. When doing our initial research for the project, we noticed there wasn’t a publication or record club that was doing both, combining the physical and the digital. We see both as very important and a way to reach a wider audience. For now, we intend for our digital journal to be the closest possible thing to reading a print publication without it actually being printed. We’re really happy with the response in terms of readability but certainly are not ruling out the possibility of turning out a physical journal at some point as well. Going with what feels right for the time being.
GP: Can you tell me more about the team that makes this possible and their roles?
Jeffrey: Right now the majority of the day-to-day is done by Chris Muccioli and myself. Chris is an unbelievable designer, both for print and the web. This project would not be possible largely if not due to his work. Chris handles all the the art direction, website, and packaging plus so much more. I’ve had more of PR/artist-relations sort of role and fill in a lot the gaps. In addition, we’ve had a ton of help from some really incredible creatives including my girlfriend who wrote the first long-form feature on Daniel Bachman, co-workers of Chris’ who have lent a had with the site, production,etc and we are collaborating with more people all the time. It’s definitely intended to be something that can keep growing as each issue comes out.
GP: Tell me more about the Kickstarter campaign. It was successful and I’m curious what you think helped. Were people simply excited about this unique idea? Do you or anyone involved have a track record of doing interesting projects that may have attracted anyone? Did you do anything special to market it?
Jeffrey: Mostly I think what helped is having a strong, thought-out idea in place and presenting it in a confident manner. We knew regardless of this Kickstarter campaign that we were going to figure out a way to make this project work. Prior to launching the campaign we had already done a lot of the legwork which I think came across well. Chris and I also ran a successful project when our band was releasing our first full-length. In terms of marketing, we were lucky to have so many friends and family help spread the word and managed to get some nice press when we premiered the first single from Daniel well ahead of time to garner some interest.
GP: I enjoyed Issue One. I love the concept of reading something and listening to something related simultaneously, I like the emphasis on craft – a longform article, a physical release, a beautifully designed webpage – and the particulars were interesting. How did you connect with Daniel Bachman and the Tompkins Square Label? Did people pitch you or did you have concepts you wanted to explore and people to work with?
Jeffrey: Glad you enjoyed the first issue. We are really excited with how it came out and can’t wait to share the next issue on May 6th from Baltimore folk-group Small Sur. Daniel has been a friend of mine for years now, met him when I first went on tour with Wisdom Tooth, (John Andrews of Quilt, our Issue No. 4 artist) when we played a show really close to the house he grew up in. At the time he was doing really weird noise stuff but someone tipped me off to the fact that he did this really amazing Fahey-style guitar playing under the moniker Sacred Harp. I tracked down some of that stuff and was blown away. Just been in touch ever since. Daniel was kind enough to put us in touch with Josh Rosenthal from Tompkins Square who is out on the west coast now. Just a really smart guy releasing incredible music for the right reasons. It all came together pretty naturally.
GP: What are your influences and inspirations in music and literature, and also anyone or anything that seems to blend the two in interesting ways?
Jeffrey: Mostly I think Chris and I have always been attracted to honesty and imperfection in music and literature. We can have fairly different tastes when it comes to music but we always dig when an artist does what comes naturally, when it’s not forced and you can tell it means something to them.
GP: What are your goals for the future of Singles Club? Are all 4 issues planned? Did the Kickstarter ensure you will do all 4 or will you have to do another campaign to make that happen?
Jeffrey: Right now we are focusing on hitting our goal of 250 subscribers for the first year. We’re inching up on the half way mark. We hope to keep pushing ourselves with each issue in terms of the content and how we present it. The Kickstarter let us have the breathing room to know that we could get through year one. We are already thinking of ways we can make year two even better.
GP: Finally, since we are Greenpointers, what do you love about Greenpoint? Any comments on the music and/or literary community in the neighborhood?
Jeffrey: Chris works in Greenpoint and I live here so we are definitely no strangers to the neighborhood. There seems to be a really incredible energy in Greenpoint and very strong sense of community. I love being in a neighborhood where some of our favorite labels (Captured Tracks, Mexican Summer, Sacred Bones) operate out of and the fact that there is a record store a block away from is kind of unreal. I also had the chance to do the walking tour of some Greenpoint Galleries recently which was amazing.