Introducing: Sam Rosenthal - Projekt - N ...

Introducing: Sam Rosenthal - Projekt - November Issue

Dec 14, 2023

Where can we find you right now and what are you up to?

The best places are: for the label, and for my band. Projekt has a new release almost every week of the year at our Bandcamp and through all streaming sites. I think there were 60 in total in 2022 and almost as many in 2023.

How did you start?

I began Projekt Records in 1983, the first release from my band Black Tape For A Blue Girl was The Rope LP in 1986. From 1980-1986 I was making a music fanzine in High School, and then college. The label grew out of that because I wanted to put out a cassette of some of the obscure local and independent music I was writing about. Back then, of course, there was no internet. It was hard to hear the obscure bands I was covering unless people wanted to put $5 in the mail to buy a cassette.

Tell us a bit about your influences.

I’d say my three main influences back then were Brian Eno, Soft Cell (Marc Almond) and many of the 4AD bands. The early Black Tape For A Blue Girl was in the same category as This Mortal Coil. Projekt now has over 650 releases, it is pretty diverse within the Ambient realm. On the “Space Music” side as opposed to the Dance/chill out side. Though Projekt did just release VEiiLA who have a downtempo, dreampop vibe. And DELREI who do Americana/Spaghetti Western instrumentals. Keeping it interesting!

What obstacles does an emerging artist have to face in our time?

I think it’s the same obstacle as it’s always been: obscurity. Most artists are not good at promoting themselves from what I find. They just want to make their music and not be bothered with getting it heard. That’s a big part of the job for artists these days. Honestly, it’s always been. Go back to Picasso or Warhol, they were salesmen as much as artists. They also knew about media attention and branding. And these are really important today as well. So along with distribution, the major thing that Shea and I offer to artists is helping them with promotion, spreading the word, giving advice. I have always kind of been a defacto manager to Projekt artists. Doing the advice, shaping, helping tasks that a manager would do.

What worked for you marketing-wise? What advice or tips would you give to new artists?

So many different things have been effective over the years. At one time, it was a 1” ad in the back of Spin Magazine. Nowadays, for the label it’s doing name-your-price releases on Bandcamp, and for Black Tape For A Blue Girl I do one or two Kickstarters a year (bringing in $10-$15k) to re-release classic albums in remastered formats. Really, there’s no one tip that will work for everyone. The general record industry belief is touring is the way to make your band’s name. That certainly can be true. However, aside from Aurelio Voltaire, that is not really a significant way that Projekt artists created awareness of their art.

What are your goals? Where do you see yourself in five years?

I have no goals besides doing what I’m doing... for a while longer. Running a label has been my full time job since 1991. Projekt changes with the times, as far as what the record label does to succeed (both regarding format, methods of promoting and bringing new artists to the label). I’ve been working with Projekt’s biggest artist — Steve Roach — since the mid-90s. We have a very successful and cooperative relationship. That’s gonna keep going for sure! In 5 years I’ll still be running a label, but hopefully not working as many hours (laughs).

Tell us about your latest or upcoming release.

It’s a bit hard to just pick one. But the one I will shout about is the upcoming Alan Elettronico: Electric Mind (Deluxe Edition). It’s one of Shea & my favorites from Projekt’s recent releases, originally came out in 2021. Now we’re re-releasing with a 2nd disc of remixes. The genre is NuDisco or Synthwave, the sound could be loved by fans of Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, Daft Punk, Giorgio Moroder, etc. On the new disc, Projekt artists have created ambient remixes of each of the track. The album has an intriguing story, the originals were a pulsing soundtrack to an imaginary android protagonist’s life. The story concludes on disc two where the humanoid character explore a digital afterlife, merging into a collective consciousness with the possibility of metaphysical connection. Give it a spin, it’s a name-your-price download

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