ROCK LABEL OF THE WEEK: Equal Vision Records

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Rock Label of the Week is focused on highlighting some of the biggest – or most obscure- labels that you may – or may not – have ever heard of. 

  • Name Of Label: Equal Vision Records
  • Founded: Early 1990’s
  • Location: Albany, NY.
  • Label Type: Independent
  • Distributors: RED Distribution
  • Genre of Focus: Post-Hardcore/Popcore
  • Current Roster: A Lot Like Birds, Eisley, Saves The Day, The Dear Hunter, We Came As Romans, etc.
  • Inactive Roster: Alexisonfire, Chiodos, Circa Survive, Coheed and Cambria, Portugal. The Man, The Fall Of Troy.
  • Website: http://www.equalvision.com/ 

As a scene kid of the millennium, I always found that my heart began at Equal Vision Records, which is why my first blog begins there too. Created in 1992 by Ray Cappo (Vocalist for bands Youth Of Today, Shelter, Better Than A Thousand), Equal Vision’s original purpose was to distribute music for Cappo’s band, Shelter. Shelter was unique in that they identified as a Hare Krishna hardcore band, and because of this, Cappo distributed other Krishna music through Equal Vision [About Equal Vision]. Cappo’s Krishna background also shaped the name and logo of his new record label, as described in an interview by current label owner Steve Reddy;

“Equal Vision was initially created because Shelter wanted to put out their own records. The name came from a verse spoken by Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita. The logo is a picture of Krishna that a Hare Krishna artist had lying around, unused in her portfolio. Ray Cappo, the singer of Shelter and founder of Equal Vision, liked it and asked her if we could use it and she agreed. We used the logo for all of our Krishna-core bands, but when I signed Shift—our first non-Krishna band on the label—we switched to just the “e v r” letters as a logo. We wanted to make a differentiation so kids knew Equal Vision wasn’t just an all-Krishna-core roster. We did it that way for a couple of years, but after the Krishna-core stuff faded away, we decided to go back to [our original] logo for all releases. The Krishna logo still means a lot to me today, and I’ve always preferred how it looked over just the letters.” [Behind The Logo’s Interview]

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Equal Vision Logo.

In 1991, Reddy purchased Equal Vision from Ray Cappo, and from that moment on the label opened itself up to become a broader, hardcore label. It also meant relocation – while Equal Vision started up in New York City, it was moved to Albany, NY once Reddy took over. By the end of the 1990’s, the roster for Equal Vision (then known as EVR) had doubled. Within the Equal Vision building, bands were having their music produced and marketed right in house, while the merchandise portion of the website dedicates itself to sales on clothing, accessories, and album sales.

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MerchNow Warehouse.

On top of Equal Vision Records, Reddy and his wife Kate also created MerchNow, a merchandising company with a focus on band apparel to be sold on the online store, as well as on tour (from individual tours with bands on their roster to festivals like the Vans Warped Tour). The company holds the values of the Hare Krishna attitude, providing full health care benefits and a lunch program that hosts locally grown food to their employees. Not only does MerchNow sell band apparel for the roster of Equal Vision, you can find band apparel from bands not included in the “Equal Vision Family”. [Merch Now Interview]

Equal Vision Records has connected itself to numerous business ventures within the past few years. A sub-label, Mantralogy, created by Kate Reddy, was designed to support and promote yogic musicians in the way Equal Vision supports their hardcore roster (some artists on Mantralogy’s roster include The Mayapuris, Prema Hara, and Gauri Vani &As Kindred Spirits). Other ventures include two imprint labels off of Equal Vision: Max Bemis of Say Anything created Rory Records and Casey Crescenzo of The Dear Hunter created Cave & Canary Goods.

We Came As Romans on EVR Instagram

We Came As Romans on EVR Instagram.

Through it all, more than anything, Equal Vision has dedicated itself to living moment to moment. The focus is on the music, and making sure this music reaches the public. The label is very active online (from Instagram posts to numerous Tweets daily) and the focus is less on making money as it is connecting the artists to the fans. While it seems unimaginable, that’s the Krishna way, and from Ray Cappo’s beginnings to the label today, they haven’t lost sight of their core values. Looking at their extensive roster, it shows that these values have found a spot in the hearts of the bands as well. Equal Vision has a business model that has worked, and will continue to flourish if they stick to their guns.

SAMPLE THE CURRENT ROSTER

Check out more music on the Equal Vision Records Youtube Channel!

Looking for more reading material? Check out my blog Heavy Bass and Breakdowns on WordPress!

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