Ben Katzman and His Baby, Bufu Records

 

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I remember meeting Ben Katzman in my dormitory building at Berklee College of Music. He was always an eccentric character with a good sense of humor. After seeing his Power Ranger tattoo I knew this was a cool dude that gave no f***s about what people thought. So it was no surprise to me to see the successful evolution of BUFU records. As soon as I started my interview with Ben, he immediately told me some incredible news about the newest addition to the BUFU family: Japanther. My jaw hit the floor and I immediately freaked out. Unfortunatly, at the time, I was sworn to secrecy and wasn’t allowed to say anything. As badly as I wanted to put it as my Facebook status, I knew it was for the best because BUFU probably had a better way of announcing its eyebrow-raising-cry-laughing-lets-go-insane surprise. Now that BUFU has announced it, I can brag about it all day long and I don’t have to censor 1/3 of this interview. Sorry about this interview being slightly outdated, but my goal was for YOU guys to get a taste of who Ben Katzman is and what BUFU records is all about. Enjoy!

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I want to know how you got into music and what inspired you to be the way you are which is really energetic and unbelievably nice.

 

I was young and I had this like super ridiculous music teacher called Mr. Marinelli in 2nd or 3rd grade and he was just really weird and one time he let play his piano, so I started playing it and figuring the notes out and I just went home and we had a piano and I started playing it. I also remember I was really into TV show soundtracks and then Mission Impossible 2 came out and Limp Bizkit did the theme song. So I bought the CD and I got really into Limp Bizkit and like Kiss when I was around 10 years old or whatever. Then, I got into punk rock when I was 12 or 13 and I remember getting Minor Threat and Black Flag’s early records well, I guess Minor Threat’s only record, but those were like my textbooks for moral groundings because it was all about like staying true and being positive and making the change you want to see in your life. I was like really into watching documentaries on bands and reading books about bands and I was like man if these bands do it and they were all 16 when they started, there’s no reason I can’t start and so I started my own band when I was 13 and we would play house parties and stuff.

 

What were you guys called?

 

We were called High Oktane, with a k instead of a c. We were named after the guitar played from KISS ‘cause that was his like nickname who use to get drunk and party and he was called High Octane. Just in high school when I was really into metal I was always playing shows and booking shows. When I was 12 there was like nothing for my friends to do musically, so we booked a bunch of parties and played a bunch of shows in high school. I started going to shows ‘cause I was old enough to go to local venues and stuff, so I started throwing shows myself. It was sick, you were able to book your friends at legitimate rock shows you were also playing and my band at the time did a lot better than I thought we would. We would play big shows and even toured around a little in Florida and um, so, that’s kind of how it got started. I owe it all to Kiss and Minor Threat and Limp Bizkit.

When did your obsession with Van Halen start or why did that happen?

 

I think it started with like KISS when I was 13 or 12. It was the first rock band I got obsessed with. I was like looking through my brother’s closet for his porno magazines and I saw KISS on a VHS and it’s this movie about these kids trying to sneak into a KISS show and they finally see KISS and I didn’t know what they looked like and all of a sudden they had like these crazy guitars and shit was on fire and I they were spitting blood and so I got supper obsessed with KISS to the point where I only listened to KISS. I was like, ‘Man, this is like power rangers if power rangers were a rock band.’ You know? And so that happened and then I got into metal music ‘cause it was all about being flashy and shredding and Van Halen is like the premier shred metal band so I got into Van Halen. Van Halen was all about having fun and not taking yourself seriously. So, between Van Halen and Minor Threat I met like the middle ground of having fun while being serious. You know?

 

How did BUFU start? When did you come up with the idea

 

I was like a freshman at Berklee and I really hated all the music coming out of Berklee. So, I decided to start a zine. I was gonna write about all my favorite local bands and just give them to my friends so they can just check it out. I just wanted to unify my thoughts.

 

I went home to Miami for the summer and my old band reunited and we played this show and something like over 100 kids came out and the venue was 18+ and all these kids were like 16 and 17 and they got kicked out and there was over $1000 they made at the door so I got into an argument with the bar tender and to get their money back and he was like ‘You either get their money back or you don’t play,‘or something, so I said, ‘If they get their money back, I won’t play,’ and that was the deal. So I got banned from this venue and I was so pissed that a lot of my friends didn’t know how to manage their bands or like do shit like that and I guess I just learned how to do it. It just happened. And that day, I was like fuck it if I had a record label, I’d look more legit booking shows and doing things and instead of just telling my friends about bands, I can put out records and have my friends listen to them. Then that night, I think it was like June 15th 2012, I only know this because I looked it up yesterday, I started BUFU Records and since then it’s kind of ridiculous how like only in a year and a half we’ve put out bands that are getting on like Pitchfork and Stereogun and my favorite bands are being booked through us. It’s kind of cool.

 

What innovative things have you done to differentiate yourselves from other independent labels in the Boston area?

 

We’re young and I think the thing about BUFU is that we’re not trying to differentiate ourselves, were just trying to contribute to part of the community. It’s like when we do things we do them ‘cause we want to do them so when there are other labels and other things I’m just like ‘Ok, well, that’s cool. Let me do this and maybe one day we can throw a show together.’ It’s not really like a competition. We just do what we want and luckily were all just really ridiculous people so it always looks like a cartoon show. I think we just try to keep it extremely local and mix our bands with bigger bands and it just took off. We just started a record label not to just do anything different and uh it just works.

 

Do you think that the BUFU festival or BUFU records could expand more outside of Boston?

 

Yeah, I think it is. We’re putting out this record for this Miami band and our first release was a Miami band. Every time we throw a show in Miami, they’re always packed. We just signed a bunch of bands from Providence, Rhode Island that are big in the scene and have been on MTV and stuff. It’s kind of weird, every show we’ve been throwing in Boston, even the show we threw in New York had at least like 100 something people and Japather is a big deal. You know, I think it will get bigger. I don’t know if right now in this day and age but one of the reasons we will get bigger is because we’re really adamant about promoting our bands with shows and booking them sick shows and maybe BUFU records will also get noticed as a company that throws sick shows as well as putting out albums. We’re like a collective- everybody helps out, its not just like a I’m-your-boss-I’m-giving-you-this much-money-to-make-a-record label, were like yo-I-love-this-music-lets-get-together-and-fucking-kill-this-shit-cuz-it’s-amazing label.

 

How do you promote your shows?

 

There are obvious things like other local entertainment companies or like newspapers like The Boston Hassel that we’re close with that write our stuff up for us. I do send out press releases and hit up blogs and spend all my time sending out emails and getting in touch with other people, so that any time the next release comes out I’m like ‘Hey, check this out too,’ you know? So, I do what I can, but hopefully one day I get to spend $3000 for a publicist because any band that’s big is because they have a good publicist. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. For now I guess I act like a freelance publicist.

 

How do you raise money for the label?

 

There are moments when everything pays for itself, but because I like putting out so much music were always at like this steady line where like nothing is being lost but nothing is being made. We’re about to put in another couple grand into the label, probably the biggest for this Japanther record, but usually the label pays for itself.

 

What has been the biggest event you guys have put on?

 

We helped book Boston Hassel fest, which is something we didn’t get credit for, which isn’t cool. But that was probably the biggest. We booked like Lighting Bolt as well as all the BUFU bands.

 

What are the benefits, in an artist’s point of view, of being signed onto BUFU records?

We pay for everything and we do out best to promote our artists. You have these people that really care about your music and really want to help you succeed and even though we’re not the biggest label, we’re gonna help you get your push out there. I think that a lot of kids talk a lot of smack at Berklee saying like, ‘Yeah, were gonna be the band that starts a label,’ but you never see anything. You can just type in any band from BUFU onto Google and the work will show for itself. We’re like your number one fans that help you get things.

 

How do you feel about BUFU bands play at 939?

 

I think it’s hilarious. I hate to say it but its great that that place exists. It kind of blows my mind at first. We students look forward to playing 939 but if BUFU bands want to play there that’s cool, it’s another audience. I just wish kids in Boston realize there are more venues than just 939. There are house shows and legitimate venues that throw sick shows. It’s like, a lot of kids and its not just Berklee kids, think that Led Zeppelin was the last good band ever and nothing is ever going to compare, but right now is the best time for music because you have all the sh** from the past and all the new stuff coming out which is sick.

 

Japanther recently said, “BUFU is the best new record label going.” How does that make you feel and do you have any expectations for the future?

 

It’s kind of like funny. A lot of people think I act like a 12 year old and I totally feel like a 12 year old when I read that- I can’t take my smile off. I just get stoked. It means that somebody knows we’re not just clowning around and that we’re passionate about what we do. And for the bands that are on BUFU they get excited ‘cause when we get represented, they get represented.

 

I want people to get sense of what the community is like in BUFU. How would you describe the scene in a sentence?

 

Chillin’ mad hard and playing no games.

 

 

 

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Kendrick Lamar and Tame Impala Can Feel the Changes

“If music stay on the underground for so long, you gonna always complain about the mainstream because that type of music [underground music] will never cross over to that. So, what I’m trying to do is put that space, you know, this type of feel and that sound so that everyone can understand it. “ Yes Kendrick. And although this was said in a Pitchfork documentary last year, you are still sticking to that goal. Consequence of Sound posted two days ago about the collaboration with Kendrick Lamar and Tame Impala. My jaw dropped as soon as I heard the news. I was a little disappointed to find out that their sent-by-god-miracle partnership was for a sci-fi sound track. I thought to myself, “Wait, but why? If this is supporting another Will Smith or Tom Cruise Sci-fi I’m outta here Kendrick, maybe I’ll just pretend that this song was never on a soundtrack.” But then I saw the trailer for Divergent and my jaw dropped a little further. The entire collaboration of the movie and music is a mix that one wouldn’t have expected in a good way, which makes it all the better to support. Let me just say, Kendrick’s music and work philosophy is something to aspire to because truthfully I’m just tired of hearing the same techno-pop songs with the same drop on the radio. Here is the list of songs that will be on this glorious soundtrack. Let’s keep the awesome collaborations going.

Divergent Soundtrack Tracklist:

01. Zedd – “Find You” (feat. Matthew Koma and Miriam Bryant)
02. Ellie Goulding – “Beating Heart”
03. Pia Mia – “Fight for You” (feat. Chance the Rapper)
04. Ellie Goulding – “Hanging On” (I See MONSTAS remix)
05. Snow Patrol – “I Won’t Let You Go”
06 Woodkid – “Run Boy Run”
07. Tame Impala and Kendrick Lamar – “Backwards”
08. M83 – “I Need You”
09. A$AP Rocky – “In Distress” (feat. Gesaffelstein)
10. Pretty Lights – “Lost and Found” (ODESZA remix)
11. Skrillex – “STRANGER” (feat. KillaGraham From Milo & Otis & Sam Dew)
12. Big Deal – “Dream Machines”
13. Ellie Goulding – “Dead in the Water”
14. Woodkid – “I Love You” (Deluxe Track)
15. Banks – “Waiting Game” (Deluxe Track)
16. Ellie Goulding – “My Blood”

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kendricktame

MIDEM

Thanks Alexandre for being so chouette!

Thanks Alexandre for being so chouette!

 

Nicole a.k.a. partner in crime

Nicole a.k.a. partner in crime

 

141a management represent!

141a management represent!

 

Supporting Andrew!

Supporting Andrew!

 

Nicole and Daniel beautifully singing Love Song.

Nicole and Daniel beautifully singing Love Song.

 

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It may be a little late to write my review about Midem, but it was such an impressionable weekend that the experience feels like it happened just yesterday. I went into Midem not really having a lot of expectations. I just knew that I wanted to go and learn about the music industry. One of the first conferences I attended was at the Brands & Fans Central area. The topic being presented was about marketing. I learned that marketing nowadays has to dive into emotions and impact people through feelings as opposed to using straight to the point facts and science. Launching a product has to be impactful and cool. The experience aspect has to be real, easily understandable, and emotional. The innovation process has to become part of a sharing economy. With all of these qualities in a marketing campaign, creativity, new relationships, and value are added to the product. Well, cool stuff to hear, I thought to myself. After this, my friend Nicole and I decided to hit up the speed meetings. We ended up meeting Michael Bisping from a.s.s. concerts and promotions. He was quite a lovely guy who answered our question “What advice can you give a college student before graduating?” He said to get an internship. Pretty much every person we asked that question to gave us this same answer- such disappointing advice. Michael actually ended up sitting with us for a little while during his lunch break and we talked about how record labels are slowly going downhill. He stated that record labels should head towards entrepreneurship in order for them to rise up again which was far more insightful than our speed meeting conversation. Nicole and I finished the day attending another marketing clinic hosted by Berklee’s very own Emilien Moyon. We went over the RIVE mapping to direct an artist with a pretty decent fan base into the direction of superior fame. It was a challenging task but our team was very persistent and creative in finding the best career path for our assigned artist. The next few days at Midem were spent pretty much doing the same. I saw and interview with Lyor Cohen, founder and CEO of 300 and heard Martin F. Frascogna speak about the art of deal making. I also heard Rita Ora speak about her experience in the music industry. I’m not going to lie; a lot of the information I was hearing at the conference was stuff I had already learned about from studying at Berklee. Although I knew this, I made sure to take this seriously because it was a very new experience for me and had never been surrounded by so many music professionals. For the most part, my Midem experience was positive but there were a few unpleasant experiences that made me question the professionalism of the music industry. It was difficult to hear many negative opinions as to where the industry is going. Although there were many inspirational speakers, some of them seemed to be spewing long winded rants that went in circles or just trying to sell their business in some sly way. At the after parties my eyes were opened to the dirt you hear about the industry and how those who held high ranking positions are perceived. I did meet some very genuine people who had my best interest at heart and wanted to maintain contact to potentially work with me in the future. However, there were some who abused their status and seemed more interested in trying to chat up the women. The behavior of some of the intoxicated music business professionals put me a little on edge due to their lack of maintaining boundaries from one colleague to another. Midem definitely had its ups and downs but I feel like I put my best foot forward and received the most that I could out of the experience.