Sergeant Sparrow Records is a DIY inspired zine envisioned by Angel Russell. It is currently based out of Martha’s Vineyard but covers music from all over the United States. Each zine is printed and notes the creativity of musicians making music from their own bedrooms and beyond. In addition to music reviews and interviews, each zine is accompanied by a CD featuring work by the selected artists….providing a soundtrack as you flip through the pages. We were lucky enough to catch up with Angel and discuss her project, the future and musical ponies.
Miss Russell and sidekick, Charlie
1. What inspired you to start Sergeant Sparrow?
I finished my first album ” Sunken Ships and Parlor Tricks” and wanted to release it myself, so I thought, why not make a little label to release it. That led me to want to do more with the label but because I don’t have a ton of money I thought what is the next best way to expose people to new music? And I came up with the magazine/cd compilation idea. In most mainstream music magazines you only get to read about an artist through glossy editing and images. You have to go elsewhere to hear the music. So, I thought it would be a cool idea if you could hear the music while you were reading the articles. I also wanted to set up the interviews to be question/answer so you would get to hear the voice of the artist unedited, direct from the musical ponies mouth. I don’t think musicians are ponies, but I did refer to Bryan Cecil (Y-Tron) as a magical electric pony rider. Then because I know what it is like to be a starving musician I decided I would help the featured artists out by making the magazine a non-profit. 100% of profits go to support the featured artists.
2. Describe the meaning behind the name.
David Attenborough informed me in the life of birds that Sparrows live in flocks and have a hierarchy. They refer to this through the usage of General for the big “I’ma gonna eat your bread first because I’m bigger an Meaner than you”, and the Sergeants, “Ok dude your right go ahead and eat it, I’m quite fond of my eyes thank you” birdies. I thought Sergeant Sparrow had a ring to it.
3. What types of music interest you? Any specific genre?
I love all types of music. As a musician I find that you can hear new and interesting sounds through whatever genre you are listening too. You just have to have an open mind. I love hearing the way people put parts together, and their instrumentation choices, I am more interested in arranging I suppose and less interested in lyrics. I go through phases where I get super excited about different genres. When I finished my first album I was obsessed with klezmer and Gypsy Jazz. I went from that to Soul after I got my hands on a compilation by Eccentric Soul: The Tragar & Note Labels. Amazing. Then that somehow led me to Electro pop and lately I have been listening to what those around me have to offer because of the magazine. It is a really rewarding experience because I get to feature them in the magazine and really sit down and find out how their creative energy works.
4. How do you find the artists you feature in the magazine and on the compilation.
For the first issue a lot of the artists I already new from playing music all over the country in various bands and moving a lot. The same is true about the second issue as well, but what is different is that I have approached artists I don’t know personally and they have been very supportive of the endeavor. Their involvement has led to more interest through word of mouth, so the amount of artists I can feature is growing exponentially which is very exciting. My intention from the get go was to expose people to new and exciting music, especially from their own backyard. I want to show them artists they might not have heard before but deserve to be noticed. My other main objective is to give these artists a voice, a platform to show and talk about their work. This is not limited to music either, I include in each issue illustrators, painters and photographers. And in the second issue there is a short story.
5. Why did you decide to do an old fashioned paper zine/burned CD as opposed to creating an online blog or digital composition?
I produce a paper copy of the magazine that has a compilation Cd of the featured artists music attached inside and a pdf version with mp3’s online. So, I am trying to reach both those who get their information online and those who appreciate hard copies. The magazine is starting out as the Martha’s Vineyard Music Magazine because that is where I live currently and a lot of my local readers read the paper and local magazines here so I do have a market for that. I also believe there is still something to holding a tangible item in your hands that you can see, touch, smell and eat should you feel so inclined… Because it is also in CD format I can put better quality files of the songs on the disc. as opposed to MP3’s
6. What’s next for Sergeant Sparrow?
I, Sergeant Sparrow, will continue to spread the music, art and voices from artists all of the country, and now the world. There is an artist from England in our next issue. I am currently working with my editor Cooper Davis to find a team that will be able to execute our ideas. I’m a little hesitant to discuss them as I don’t want to jinx anything, but we are working on better, bolder layout, printing, stories, articles and more collaborates and volunteers. I will continue to find new artists to introduce to people. And I also have two radio shows on the local radio here, yet another platform to give unknown artists a voice. I have featured artists on the air as guests that play and talk about their music with listeners. You can listen to my shows online at http://www.wvvy.org and if your on MV you can tune in to 93.7 LP FM tuesdays 10-12am and thursdays 1-3pm eastern time.
Our dearest lady friends of Agent Ribbons are giving us a sneak peak to their new album, Chateau Crone with an incredible music video for “Dada Girlfriend” directed by Chelsea Wolfe. The music is stark and somber and is matched with an eerie music video that blasts us back to a simpler time of avant-guarde silent films.
Earlier this month former Bikini Kill members created a fan content driven archive website. It is made up entirely of remembered stories, videos, and pictures from fans about their experience of the band. My favorite so far is republished below, but there are at least a hundred more stories at the site to read, including one that will make you swear off Sub-Pop Records for life! Check out the site!
I first started listening to Bikini Kill in 1992. or maybe it was 93. I grew up in an super-strict, conservative Vietnamese household. My mother told me I was not allowed to play the Bikini Kill LP in the house because they said the word “fuck” a lot, and she didn’t want my younger sister and brother to be exposed to that kind of language. So naturally, i took my 12 year old sister to see Bikini Kill play at La Luna in Portland, Oregon. I didn’t have anyone else to go with at the time, much less know any punk rockers, and didn’t want to go by myself. We told our parents we were going to see a movie. My sister wore a t-shirt with cat pictures all over it, but in a non-ironic kind of way. It took us an hour to drive to Portland. Neither of us had been to a punk rock show before and didn’t know what to expect.
when we got there, i was really surprised to see other people of color in the audience. That was super-important, as skinheads were a problem back then. My hometown was rural-ish, we had a racist skinhead contingent in town, and not a lot people of color lived there; I’d get harassed a lot, and that kinda kept me away from shows and stuff. Before then, I wasn’t aware of other people of color in the punk scene. This was before internet access became ubiquitous and before I started networking or reading zines. It definitely felt like being the last and only unicorn left on earth, but then stumbling upon a secret field full of frolicking unicorns. Maybe i was just small town at the time, but I think riot grrrl kinda sent the message or beacon to other marginalized groups that it was safe to go to punk shows or be part of the punk scene and refuse to be made to feel like you aren’t “supposed” to be there.
The opening band was awesome; but i can’t remember their name. Some guy in the audience started to scream sexist shit at them, and the singer-lady responded, “is there a problem?” and then she demanded that he come forward on stage, or they would end the set. When the guy refused, they immediately ended their set, and walked off the stage. People got super pissed and they cussed him out, and then the guy left. it was so cool, I made a mental note to use that tactic at some point in the future. Bikini Kill was awesome. my sister loved it. Kathleen wore a shirt that said, “marry me, fly free.” At that moment, I remember feeling like I was part of something big, urgent, and powerful, and that if you wanted, you could claim that power for yourself and share it with others, and maybe try to change the world with it. On the way back from Portland, i was so amped up I almost crashed the car on the offramp to I-5. When we got home, our parents were watching Chinese soap operas and didn’t notice that we were gone for 6 hours
This skit written by and starring Aubrey Plaza–who plays April on the show “Parks and Recreation” and is a very accomplished sketch comedian in her own right–examines what happens when “Judge Judy” and “My Super Sweet 16” collide. I recommend it! Highly!: