| Amped Up: Badman Recording Co. founder Dylan Magierek. |
IMAGE: Benjamin Reed
Dylan Magierek has figured out how to fit in here: Realize there’s more to Oregon than McMenamins, sign a local band. The 40-year-old brought his life—and his label, Badman Recording Co.—to Portland a year and half ago from San Francisco, and he’s deduced that much. Now, Badman’s releasing its first thoroughly Portland recording, Weinland’s La Lamentor (see review, page 41), and it signed one of our buzziest bands, dance-pop project Starfucker, last month.
But Badman’s no newbie. The label began in 1997 and cut its teeth with now-legendary acts like powerpop band the Posies, Northwest pop chanteuse Rebecca Gates and Red House Painters frontman Mark Kozelek. “I came into [Kozelek’s] life at the right time,” says the slight, dark-haired Magierek. “He helped Badman get on the map.” Magierek, who works part time for local online distributor CD Baby, is referring to 1999’s Shanti Project Collection, a sonically cohesive comp (which benefited a Bay Area nonprofit that helps those with breast cancer and HIV/AIDS) featuring such gloom-pop heavy hitters as Low, Kozelek and Hayden. “I finally had a little hit record,” he says, noting 10,000 copies sold. “It made me feel like, ‘Wow, maybe I can do this.’”
Since then, he’s signed Minneapolis songwriter Mark Mallman, Christian folk-pop outfit the Innocence Mission and the now hugely popular My Morning Jacket. While you might think MMJ’s 200,000-plus selling 2005 release, Z, means Magierek’s a rich man, he’s in fact a vinyl peddler when it comes to the Southern psych-rock outfit. Badman sold out its 3,000-copy run of the more obscure double-LP version of Z (complete with bonus track) and also issued the four-LP edition of its live follow-up, Okonokos.
Magierek, who crafts a particular aesthetic for Badman releases (the eerily lonesome cityscapes of Portland photographer Nyree Watts’ were oft-used as cover art in the label’s early days) does make a living. He’s a homeowner who lives primarily off his label’s income, which he says is capable of earning him $50,000 annually. And he’s happy to still be one of the little guys—especially here.
“Portland has totally knocked me out,” he says enthusiastically. “It’s amazing how different it is [from San Francisco]. I was there 17 years. The scene there was such bullshit, everybody puttin’ up a front. They’re not musicians there like they are here,” he continues. Such distaste quickly disappears when Magieriek talks about Portland’s music scene: “People here are natural talents. [In San Francisco], you go see your friend’s band play [and] you don’t really care for the band, but you like your friend a lot. Here, you’re like, ‘I had no idea! You guys are great.’”
Besides producing non-Badman acts like the Mother Hips, Low and Jackie Greene on the side, Magierek’s also a partner at Type Foundry, the local recording powerhouse behind Spoon’s recent Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, as well as releases by the Decemberists and M. Ward, to name a few. “They took me in [because] I have so much gear,” he explains, laughing.
Despite having his hands beyond full, Magierek also records ethereal folk-rock under the name Misc. and finds plenty of time for his 2-year-old son, Asher, whom he talks about with as much contagious enthusiasm as he does Badman’s newest editions. “I’m very excitable,” he admits. “I think so many bands are just looking for someone to get excited about them. A lot of times I see a band and I’m like, ‘Omigod, I’ve gotta record this band. I hope they’ll let me.’ That’s how I felt about Starfucker: ‘They’ve gotta be on Badman. I just can’t stand it. I’m freakin’ out!’”
Later in our conversation, Magierek asks for tips on other hot-shit Portland bands. When I toss out much-lauded creep-folk ensemble the Builders and the Butchers, he says, “Who are [they] signed to?” I answer, “Bladen County Records,” to which he jokingly responds, “Bladen, schmaden. Never heard of ’em.” Then, as if speaking to the Builders themselves, he exclaims, “Come on board, guys!” He laughs, then adds with apt voracity: “Who’s next?”
HEAR IT: Weinland celebrates the release of its Badman Recording Co. debut, La Lamentor, Saturday, March 1, with Death Songs and Musee Mechanique at Doug Fir. 9 pm. $10. 21+. Also see album review.