10 Years of Sacred Bones: A Short Q&A with Caleb Braaten (Mucchio Selvaggio)

Published on Il Mucchio Selvaggio n. 761 / December 2017 (print and digital)

When SB started in 2007 Brooklyn was looked at as this mecca of lo-fi music and I read that SB had close ties to that world from the very beginning. How would you describe the current relationship between the label and the music that is coming out of Brooklyn?

I think we still have a close relationship with the Brooklyn underground music scene. We work with artists who are tied very closely to the punk and noise communities as well as the DIY scene that’s reemerging.

Zola Jesus’ work has been pivotal in the history of SB. Recently she talked about SB as “the real deal” and she’s been very open about SB being like a “family” to her. How was welcoming her back to the ‘family’ after her time at Mute?

I couldn’t have been happier. She knew that she was always welcome here. We’ve been so intertwined with each others growth that we knew we’d be working together again. It’s so wonderful to be working with her.

SB is highly regarded for artworks and its overall visual presentation. What motivated your decision to use a template for (most of) the sleeves?

I remember making the decision to put all the LPs in a template based on standing behind a record counter all day looking at a wall of records. I thought to myself what record are you drawn to even when you know nothing about it. I thought of labels like Blue Note, Deutsche Grammophon, Crass, Factory, things that had these very defined aesthetics.

The history of how you got to collaborate with great filmmakers like David Lynch and Carpenter is well-known. I was at Primavera Sound Festival in 2016 and saw John Carpenter playing live in pure ‘rock star mode’. It was a memorable show. I was curious to know, does the label play a key role in stirring initiatives like Carpenter extensively touring worldwide? 

We were hoping that John would tour, it took some poking and prodding but when he finally decided to do it he really enjoyed it. When he came around to the idea we helped secure John with a good booking agent.

I’ve always seen reissues as a way to understand where people running labels musically ‘come from’. This year SB reissued two legendary records by Psychic TV: is it fair to consider the SB sensibility as a contemporary heir to the esoteric underground of the 1980s where PTV thrived amongst others, what David Keenan described as England’s Hidden Reverse?

That’s a very kind assessment. I draw a lot of inspiration from the bands and artists of that era.

You often described the music of SB as a mixtape, to go beyond the notion of genre. I was curious to know if you keep an ear on genres like hip hop and bass music more broadly and if you ever find something that, to you, could be a potential good fit for SB.

Oh absolutely. I am always looking for something in those genres to slot into the SB catalog. I had very early on been a huge Earl Sweatshirt fan and had always dreamed of working with him. But he blew up too quick.

What’s in the cards for the label? Is there anything you can disclose about the 2018 of SB?

We have so much on the docket for 2018 it’s almost intimidating. We are hoping to finish up production on our film A Message From The Temple (speaking of England’s Hidden Reverse) the story of The Temple of Psychic Youth. We are really taking our book arm very seriously and will have new art books by Alex Heir, Heather Benjamin and Jesse Draxler in the spring. Not to mention haveing about 15 new records already in the works! Gonna be a big year.

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