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White Denim

Allentown, PA label White Denim has released some very fine cuts of vinyl by the likes of Nice Nice, Air Conditioning and Barnacled. Perhaps the jewel in the WD crown though, is the frankly spectacular Closet Full of Clothes comp, which features Dischorders Black Eyes, noise/puke boys Hair Police, and many more. Matt Kosloff was recently kind enough to provide the answers to the questions.

Could you start by telling us a little about how you got started, and how long you’ve been running?

I got started in the summer of 2001 with the idea of doing a label. I was always a huge fan of punk vinyl and wanted to start my own thing, basically because it seemed like such a huge source of fun and excitement. It’s all been downhill (or uphill?) from there.

Is there an interesting story behind the label name that you’d like to share?

There’s no particular rhyme or reason for the name, although I’ve noticed coincidences regarding the name since I started. I just wanted something that brought to mind something antiquated and goofy, but presented in a serious and modern way. That’s pretty much what I’m attempting to do with White Denim, release vinyl records with unusual music, presented as if it’s the most important music in the world.

Who has inspired you in terms of style/ambition/enthusiasm?

If anything, I’ve been inspired by bands and labels who really lack ambition and enthusiasm for what they’re doing, hoping to be the exact opposite. Since White Denim is completely my own thing, it’s up to me to get things done, which is one of the most satisfying aspects. If something’s a failure, I’m the only person to blame, and vice versa. As far as style, I’ve always been impressed with labels who take time to create a beautiful package, not just a new record. Bacteria Sour, Soleil Moon and Witching Hour come to mind as labels who have always impressed me with their ability to create a complete package rather than a record in a jacket. However, I don’t think I have much in common with those labels as far as aesthetics are concerned.

Oppositely, is there anything you saw others doing that you distinctly wanted to avoid?

Like I was saying, I want to avoid releasing anything that appears to be thrown together. Another important aspect of White Denim is to stay away from well-known bands; I’m much more interested in helping out newer / lesser-known bands than working with established bands. For example, I’m a huge Melt Banana fan, but have no interest in releasing anything by them. They have plenty of albums out, tour successfully, and are widely popular. If I am able to help an amazing new band get shows and release records on larger labels, I find it much more fufilling.

Could you tell us a little about how the Closet Full Of Clothes comp came into being? Are the bands involved all friends of yours, or did you just ask whoever you wanted and hope for the best?

Borne out of countless hours of classroom boredom, I found myself scribbling down the names of artists I wanted to put out records by. After staring at the list, giving the artists homemade logos and just zoning out, I thought that I might be able to swing a compilation LP with them. I’ve always been a fan of compilation LPs that acted as a document to a scene or community, “Let Them Eat Jellybeans” and “Not So Quiet on the Western Front” coming to mind. So I wrote each of these artists, told them what I had in mind, and luckily received an equally interested and positive response. I hear horror stories of compilations taking years to be released, so I ended up surprising a lot of the artists by mailing them finished copies after a couple months of deliberation. I had only known Nice Nice, Black Eyes and Pearls & Brass personally before releasing “Closet Full of Clothes”, but have since developed relationships withbasically all of the artists.

How much of your time are you able to devote to the label? How do you find juggling a day job etc with your label commitments?

It can be pretty tough keeping up with mailorders, especially since I am only able to make it to the post office on Saturdays due to my full-time job. I basically end up spending a great deal of my free time (and money) on the label, but it’s something I really love to do. I’m also still on a small level, so there’s no huge need for anyone else to help out.

Has there ever been a time when you felt like calling it a day, that the label was too much trouble?

It’s never been too much trouble, I’ve only had a great deal of fun and met some incredible people from White Denim’s existence. The money end, however, has been rough. I’ve probably only made 30% back of what I’ve invested, and with 7 records under my belt, my credit cards are currently bursting at their seams. I could start charging higher prices and pressing records that I am positive will sell, but that would go against the initial ideals I established and intend to keep. I could also press c ompact discs, which return at a much higher rate, but I intend to keep White Denim a vinyl-only label. It’s what I love.

Who decides the artwork for your releases? Do you have a major say in the matter, or do you let the bands decide?

I work with artists whom I am positive will provide me with a finished product, both sound and art, that I will be into. I’ve only once spoken with a band to discuss their artwork ideas, but it wasn’t a big deal at all. I’m not looking to create any White Denim artist’s artwork, it’s much more important for me to reflect exactly what they want with the cover art and insert. “Closet Full of Clothes” was not designed by any of the bands, but by E*Rock of Audio Dregs, whom I had always been a huge fan of and knew would be able to provide a fitting and original package to a fairly eclectic record.

Got any advice for the prospective new label mogul?

Save your money and produce one quality record instead of three average records! Don’t compromise your vision for anything. And finally, if there’s an artist that you’d absolutely love to work with, but think they might be out of your league, write them! I’ve been surprised many times by how accessible and friendly people tend to be.

Finally, what would be your dream release – which band, which format, and how would it be packaged?

That’s a tough question, as I don’t think any one particular release would totally satisfy me. Hypothetically, if I was unable to find any new bands that amazed me and only work with bands of the past, it would probably be a Zero Boys / Hanatarash split LP (all unreleased material from the high point of each group’s career) on American flag-striped vinyl with clear spots, housed in a tri-fold gatefold sleeve, embossed with a relief map of Nazareth, PA. The center stickers would be scratch and sniff, and it would come with a playable lathe-cut backpatch in the shape of C.W. McCall.

White Denim website