|« Interview with Cut The Red Wire.||Interview with Starflyer 59. »|
Interview with Jeff Cloud.
This week I interviewed Jeff Cloud of Velvet Blue Music. In a first for my interview series, Cloud (as he is popularly known) is known primarily for his record label, and not for his band. Velvet Blue Music has been releasing top quality independent music for around 15 years. The greatest distinguishing characteristic of VBM releases is that each artist is personally hand picked by Cloud himself. A listen through the VBM catalog is like listening though Cloud's personal record collection. The beauty of this is that fans of the label know they are going to get a quality album, and not an overproduced cash-in record. Also of note, Cloud has been involved with a number of bands over the years, including Joy Electric and Starflyer 59. Being involved with these bands alone amazing, however his main band, Pony Express, is brilliant in its own right. He'll be bashful about it, but Cloud is a great musician as well as an independent record label genius. I can't say enough about how much I respect what Jeff Cloud and VBM does. Enjoy the interview, and don't forget to visit Velvet Blue Music at the links below.
Brax: For the uninitiated, can you please briefly tell us the story of how you started Velvet Blue Music?
Jeff Cloud: In high school I had this idea of starting a label. At the time I was super into 4AD, Independent Projects, Rough Trade, etc. I saved up some money, and put out our first four releases all at the same time. Four 7 inches, all on blue vinyl. After that I just kept on pushing forward. We're now on VBM 131! I might add that I plan to make this an extensive interview.
Brax: That's OK with me! What upcoming projects are you currently working on?
Jeff Cloud: Greg Markov, bass player of Fine China, and all around knowledgeable guy, will be helping me build a still. We want to use a sour mash base, then filter it two, maybe even three times. Get it into some charred barrels, wait 36 months and see what we get. We might make it available as VBMW1. I'm also working on my own version of an appetizer that I had at the Crow Bar in Corona Del Mar. Baked date, drizzled with honey, stuffed with goat cheese, then wrapped in bacon, speared with a tooth pick to hold it together. This is insanely good.
Brax: Interesting. :) What, in your opinion, makes your label special?
Jeff Cloud: Our latest batch of releases included Frank Lenz, Kissing Cousins, Telegraph Canyon, Doug Burr, Map, Ronald of Orange, The Langley Sisters, etc. I don't want to come off as cocky, but c'mon, what a great batch of releases! If you aren't listening to what we are putting out, you are losing out! That Frank Lenz Strictly Background soundtrack is nothing short of amazing. Frank has talent so far beyond the usual, I get worked up just talking about it. It's soooooooooooooooooo good. Ronald of Orange Brush Away the Cobwebs, seriously, so catchy, it's down right depressing to know how many people haven't heard this.
Brax: I agree. I love that Ronald of Orange EP! How do you feel about interstellar travel? Do you prefer light speed or warp speed?
Jeff Cloud: Hmmm, not exactly sure? I really prefer a nice mild Corona, with a virgin sun grown wrapper, probably from Dominican Republic. Really Cuba is slightly over rated. I super enjoy travel though! I spent some time in the US Virgin Islands recently. What a great place to visit. OK, so you sleep in, wake up and get some breakfast, head out to the clear blue water, lounge in a chair, read a magazine, order a tropical drink (or beer), do some snorkeling, chat with folks, relax your mind. TMZ, Billboard, e-mail, phone calls, are all put to rest. That's a nice time! And of course, no passport required. In this poor economy, they have crazy cheap travel deals. You only live once! Get out there, experience the unusual, go, go, go!
Brax: What are your favorite bands to see live? Also, please tell me about the best live show you've ever experienced.
Jeff Cloud: Best show is Girls vs. Boys reunion show last year. They played the entire Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby record from first to last in order. It was at the El Rey, and was so poorly attended! Though they surely brought out the jams! I also used to love seeing Jetenderpaul! Now I enjoy Kissing Cousins, at their record release show they played the whole album through, which was great. I should also add the cooks at Pinks Hot Dogs in LA are amazing! I 110% suggest you get the Mulholland Drive dog, it's all that and more. Also Richard Swift, live, Mr. Swift is not only what I consider a friend, but also a true artist. The guy pours his whole heart and soul into his shows, and I don't mean he just tries hard, I mean he is emotionally invested in his performance. A Swift show is an experience as opposed to a show. You leave the show feeling closer to Mr. Swift. Middle finger to all who don't appreciate what he is doing. Swift is the savior of indie rock, no joke here.
Brax: Where do you see Velvet Blue Music in five years?
Jeff Cloud: Ah, I really don't know. The music industry is so jacked up and not really for the good either. I like to do the best I can day by day with really no regard for the future. I'd like people to understand that their small orders really do keep us in business. We're not some large label, we live off of the day to day single CD orders, seriously. I always have magazines and online mags asking us to run ads, and I do reply, "Let me see how we do today in orders!"
Brax: iPod, CD, Vinyl, or other? Why?
Jeff Cloud: All and none I guess? CD's should be extinct soon. Most people don't have an appreciation for vinyl. The iPod pretty much disregards album art, sequence, and a record as a whole. Maybe live shows are all that counts now.
Brax: You've been involved in several bands over the years. What's next for Pony Express? Any plans for some Pony X shows in the future?
Jeff Cloud: I'm usually so busy working on other people's music that I sometimes forget my own. Mr. Lenz and I started recording new Pony tracks eons ago, so I guess I should get back to them soon. No shows. Pony Express isn't a real band, shows are for real bands. I do like lobster fishing though. Haven't caught one of 'em yet! We do the hoop net fishing. Caught an octopus, crabs, starfish, ect, but no lobster.
Brax: What is your opinion on extraterrestrial life?
Jeff Cloud: It must be real, as I am doing this interview with you. Plus, someone had to share all that info with the Knights of Templar (and the) Free Masons. Or maybe that communication was interrupted by the tower of Babble.
Brax: Any advice for those trying to “make it” in music?ng>Jeff Cloud: Go play shows, go for broke. Life is so short. Everyone can record tracks on a computer. Hit the road, get out and travel show em what you've got.
Brax: Anything else you’d like to add?
Jeff Cloud: Sure, I love fire. We have a fire pit in our backyard. I'm sitting next to it right now, excellent times. Bands I have been enjoying lately include Mainsail, Surfer Blood, The Prids, The Langley Sisters, Hall and Oats - no joke here, the production here is so tops, it sounds so perfect. The new Doug Burr record is going to be mind blowingly good! I have been listening to some of the demos ad rough tracks, Burr is tops! I support all those who support us: One Track Mind, Magnet, LA Weekly (inches column), Buzzbands LA, Painted Man, Radio Free Raytown, Bubblegum Slut, Tiny Mix Tapes, Rootstime, The Indie Music Show WHJX, Americana UK, Opus Zine, Delusions of Adequacy, The Big Takeover, MF Magazine, Altcountry Netherlands, Owl and Bear, The Austinist, Radio Free Silverelake, Insulin Funk, Babysue, Buzzine, Wears the Trousers, Kill the Mic, Under the Radar, LAist, and any I forgot, sorry. Jen Teft, where are you??? Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles - so good ! Also I'd like it to be known that if I die tomorrow, I love life, I love my wife, I love music, and Josh Dooley of MAP is probably my fave guitar player. Have the guy over to your place, give him a guitar, and start requesting songs. He's like a human juke box of cool songs, seriously fun. Speaking of, there is a great contest going on right now, where anyone can put their own vocals onto a MAP track: http://thepaintedman.brookiellen.com/reverseremixthis-sing-with-map/
Brax: Wow! Thanks Cloud!
Visit Velvet Blue Music:
Tell them Brax sent you!
Thanks to Jeff Cloud.
Check back next Wednesday for my exciting interview with Cut the Red Wire.