New Seattle label Freakout Records goes public with a two-day festival on Capitol Hill on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 8-9.
When Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready walks into a KEXP music fair wearing your record label’s T-shirt, you know you’ve officially made it.
That’s what happened for Freakout Records, a new Seattle-based venture started by four locals — Ian Cunningham, Skyler Locatelli, Guy Keltner and Nathan Casey — who, in addition to running the label, are putting on a loud, two-day music festival Thursday and Friday (Dec. 8-9).
The event will take place at four Capitol Hill venues near the corner of 14th Avenue and East Madison Street — Chop Suey, Pony, Bar Sue and LoveCityLove — and will feature more than 20 bands, including rapper DoNormaal, producer Erik Blood and Americana crooner Chris King (and the Gutterballs).
7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec. 8 -9, at various venues, including Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., Seattle; $15 one day pass, $28 both days (206-538-0556 or freakoutrec.com).
The festival marks the public debut of the Freakout label, which began in January and released its debut in July, a soundtrack to the movie “Alien” by the band Newaxeyes.
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Freakout has since put out EP’s by Acid Tongue (made up of two of Freakout’s founders, Cunningham and Keltner) and more notably “Hot Candy,” the latest full-length by Seattle rock darlings Smokey Brights.
“The festival won’t be a big, over-the-top thing,” Cunningham says, sipping a beer in a booth at the Wedgwood Broiler, “but we’ll be getting some great bands together that we really love.”
The two-day spree is an extension of the already-established Psychedelic Holiday Freakout Festival, which Keltner, who recently moved to New York City, has been running the past few years. Cunningham and Locatelli came on last year to help with the festival’s production and the partnership blossomed.
So why start a label?
“For Acid Tongue, it’s nice to have control over every aspect of what we’re doing,” Cunningham explains. “And the other bands we work with are all artists we hang out with — artists we text with all the time — and they can have more control now, too.”
Freakout Records currently boasts seven acts in its stable, all local, including pop singer Maiah Manser and psyche-rock band Moon Darling. They will play the festival, as will Smokey Brights and Acid Tongue.
And while the venture is still working on financing (the founders are currently paying for everything out-of-pocket), there is no shortage of ambition.
“They get us,” Smokey Brights frontman Ryan Devlin says. “We got to put out a psychedelic, weirdo pop record that airs our anxieties but also our artistry. Not every label out there would get behind something like that.”
The admiration between artist and label is mutual.
“We want to be the label that gets a band like Smokey Brights to a major,” Cunningham says. “And down the line we’d like to be able to compete with the big companies, too, like Capitol.”