Katharine had a fantastic idea a few weeks ago.
For a while now, she and I have wanted to set up some kind of organization to help make our music better. After a lot of philosophical deliberation, we settled on the name “Compass Rose Records.” The name reflected both our beloved sense of exploration and the fact that we felt the music industry was pants-on-head stupid and we thought we could do better.
We weren’t actually trying to enter into business per se – Fever Pitch is a tiny band with two songs and we don’t plan to ever make any money from it. What we did want to do was try to get some kind of community together. We’re based out of a very small town with almost no electronic music scene, and certainly not any other triphop or downtempo music we are aware of. Come to think of it, the Katja Gee / Michael Messina gallery show may have been the only time a local downtempo band has ever been played in public. We were hoping that if we could get some traction ourselves, we could find a way to extend that success to other musicians in the area and in turn play off of that energy to improve our own work. We wanted, in short, to get a bit of a collective going.
So we took on the name, registered the URL, sharpie’d it onto some CDRs that we’d burned our own music to, and gave them out at the gallery show. They were actually kind of a hit. There were four tracks:
1. Hurry Home by Fever Pitch
2. Thin Air – A synthy orchestral thing I wrote that fell out of a Fever Pitch song that never happened
3. Carousel Horses arranged for piano by Katharine
4. An SATB version of “Down by the River to Pray” that we arranged for our voices and two vocoders
The disc was branded “Compass Rose Records 2011 Sampler.” We put them on a table next to some business cards.
Now we had a bit of name recognition, but all we had really accomplished was making ourselves look silly for having this big fancy title and not a lot of music to back it up. It’s not like we were a label – although playing at it seemed fun – but we certainly were something creative. We liked that.
One of the many patterns that we’ve noticed in our work is that we like to do it in groups. We enjoy it more, we stick with it longer, and we tend towards better results when in the same room with other people who are themselves working, even if on different projects. There is some kind of creative momentum that gets in our heads and keeps our noses in our materials. We don’t pretend to understand it, but it seems to happen pretty consistently, and not just for music.
Katharine’s idea was to get this out of our living rooms and into the community. So, we did.
One month ago, a local community room found itself filled with sketchpads, laptops, instruments, leather working gear, and coffee, not to mention a group of excited creatives making things out of them for Compass Rose Records Creative Night #1. Anyone was welcome, but you had to have a project. It was, by all accounts, a success. I wrote some music, Katharine wrote all kinds of things, and while we didn’t track progress, everyone else seemed to be similarly effective.
Tonight is #2; we are very excited. I think we’re going to bring a bigger coffee pot.