- Eiderdown Records keeps it local with latest releases by Fungal Abyss and Hound Dog Taylor's Hand.
Seattle guitarist and Hollow Earth Radio DJ Adam Svenson runs Eiderdown Records, a micro indie label that issues fantastic subterranean music—mostly on cassette—exploring inner space and cosmic expanses. He's been doing an excellent job at this for the last three years, and his last two releases—Hound Dog Taylor's Hand's Live at the Comet (skronky, Sharrock-ian jazz rock) and Fungal Abyss' Live at the Triple Door (surreal-dream-logic improv)—are among Eiderdown's best. The Stranger queried Svenson to find out what makes his best-smelling [sic] tapes so fascinating.
You began Eiderdown in 2011, right? What possessed you to do so?
Eiderdown was born when two things occurred: I had reached a milestone birthday (you guess) and I wanted to start doing a music label again, something which I hadn't done since the late ’90s. At the same time, my good friend Garek Druss was looking for a home for a LP of his solo material as A Story Of Rats. Months later, the first Eiderdown release was hatched, the A Story Of Rats Thought Forms LP.
How’s the label doing?
Eiderdown is doing great. I wish I had some more money to turn releases out a little faster, but my turn-around time is getting smaller and after the first year or so I think I have a great process down. The reaction to the releases has been fantastic, no small part of which is the insane artwork for each release by my talented friends like Max Clotfelter and Aubrey Nehring.
What are the guiding principles behind Eiderdown? What factors make you want to release somebody’s music?
My catch phrase for Eiderdown is “late night music,” meaning I want the label to focus on music from the edges of reality, dreamy sounds that take you somewhere either peaceful or a bit malevolent. I try not to use the over-used term "psychedelic" too much, but that vibe is in the DNA of Eiderdown. I want each release to feel like something that you might catch on a midnight radio show, snatches of strange captivating sounds emanating from the universe. Another goal from the start of Eiderdown was to conjoin two worlds: the wonderful cosmic music I was hearing with the amazing artwork I was noticing that folks were creating. It just so happens that I knew a few local folks who fit the bill perfectly. Max Clotfelter’s art in particular has become a trademark of sorts for the Eiderdown look. Max will always be an integral part of Eiderdown’s look as long as he wants to be, and we are going to branch out a bit in the new year with the addition of some different artists such as Aubrey Nehring and Jake Blanchard from the UK.
How do you find the music you release?
A vast majority of the artists Eiderdown has released I contacted personally because I felt the world needed to hear more of their work. Some of it finds its way to me through submissions and suggestions. I do also troll through Bandcamp and other sites, always on the lookout for interesting music… but it’s hard to keep up.
Eiderdown is mostly releasing cassettes these days? What’s the rationale behind that decision?
After my first vinyl release, I didn't have enough money to do another LP, and I already had a list of folks who I wanted to release. So I decided to do cassettes, which are much easier to deal with financially and time-wise. I really wanted these tapes to look great and have an immediate impact, so I decided that they would all be screen printed in multiple colors, thus hitting the holy trinity of tactile, visual, and aural pleasure receptors. I’ve also had people comment on how great they smell!
Cassettes are still frowned upon, but they are achieving a bit of respect. Helping that is the fact that there are many amazing labels out there releasing excellent music. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this scrappy magnetic secret society.
Besides Eiderdown, you host the Edge of the Ape Oven show on Hollow Earth Radio and play guitar in Karnak Temples and Dull Knife. What else do you do?
Wow, when you list it like that, that’s a lot. Yes, folks, tune in to Hollow Earth Radio on Monday nights at 10 pm Pacific time so I can spin you the very same style of late night sounds we have been talking about: krautrock, drone, free jazz, future folk. It’s a great way to end your day, promise.
When I’m not doing what I can to expand music lovers’ minds, I relax at my palatial estate with my wonderful wife and we get our minds warped by the constantly amazing, hallucinogenic things that our two kids say and do. Seriously, my two girls blow my mind on a daily basis.
Is Eiderdown accepting demos?
I have quite a backlog of releases right now, but yes, Eiderdown does accept unsolicited music. Reading this interview should give folks a decent idea of what Eiderdown is about and if you think we would dig it, submit away. Extra points awarded to improvised weirdness, free jazz, sub-basement kosmiche, truly freaky folk, odd percussion, and flutes!
What’s on the horizon for the label?
2015 is going to be superb. In no particular order soon we will have releases from Italian free-jazz greats Jooklo Duo, Austrian cosmic vibe-ologist Bird People, French drone-rock from a stellar band called France, and an amazing new project named Augenmusik : analog synths and violin drone by Werner and Thilo from Metabolismus (check them out, people!), and Samara Lubelski (Thurston Moore Band, lots of great solo releases and all-around amazing person).
Also on deck is a release of field recordings from Indonesia, and some mystic jogging soundtracks that I know at least one Stranger music writer will enjoy. I’m incredibly excited to get these sounds out into the universe!
Lastly, I'd just like to say that I'm humbled by all the support and interest from both the musicians who trust me with their work and the folks who buy them from Eiderdown. Thank you so much!