Nixon Music: The Eyes Behind GODMODE Records
First up is Nick Sylvester, the man behind one of New York City's most exciting young labels, GODMODE. Nick works as the heart of the machine involving himself in every step of GODMODE's releases. From production, to A&R, to packing the records, Nick's hand-stamped input is one of the labels defining draws. We spoke with him about the day to day life of running GODMODE.
Can you walk us through a typical "day in the life" of running Godmode?
I wake up at 6:30, walk to the studio, practice drum rudiments, write, mix, drink espresso and answer emails. That's a typical day for me at least. I have no idea who or what is actually running the label.
What's something that you'd never guess you'd love about running a record label?
I work with every artist on the label, from writing to recording to mixing to telling their whole story and so on. I also dub the cassettes and ship all the cassettes. I'm surprised how much I like shipping. I have a DYMO label printer for shipping, and an account at stamps.com. I hooked it all up last year to ship the YVETTE record. I love printing the labels, I love putting the labels on the boxes, and I love scheduling pickups. I can't tell you why.
Nick Sylvester starting out in music
What's the least glamorous part of running Godmode? How about the most glamourous?
The least glamorous part is deessing vocals--getting rid of the harsh 'ess' and 'shh' and 'cha' sounds in a vocal comp. The most glamorous part is not that glamorous but: I love getting demos — the rawer the better. People are trusting you with their secret. It's an incredible feeling.
It's clear you put a lot of effort into the small details of the Godmode releases. What are some of the ways you make the little shit better?
I tend to eliminate small details. I think it's called working subtractively. Is this necessary? Is this pretentious? Is this obfuscating? Is the word 'obfuscating' pretentious? Any detail — in the music, in the packaging, in the email — should be direct or have a good reason for not being direct. I hate when new music sounds too pro or tries too hard to be smart. I try to get rid of any detail that feels dishonest. As Judge Judy said: Beauty fades, dumb is forever.
What's something you never thought you'd have to do in the day to day work of running a label?
The number of exclamation points I use is astounding.
Shamir, one of Nick's recent signees
It seems like Godmode is always looking to come up with new ways to present releases. Cassettes have been a cornerstone of the label but you've also dipped your toes into the world of Photobooks, game soundtracks, and LP's. Is there a medium you still want to explore?
I want to write a good monthly email zine. Other people are trying to do this but they get too sell-y too quickly. I set up a simple signup for ours here. No idea what it's going to look like. I tend to distrust emails with images.
What's in store for Godmode for the rest of 2014? (or if you can't tell us quite yet) What's one goal you want to achieve with Godmode by the end of 2014?
Lots of debuts. I have no idea what will finish up first but the list is long: Fitness, Soft Lit, Montreal Sex Machine, Motion Studies, Isn't Ours, Human Resources, Father Figure, so many others. Courtship Ritual just had their record come out, Shamir and I are working on his LP, and I'm working with YVETTE on a new release. And that email zine. I really want that to be good too.
Listen to our GODMODE playlist and more on the Nixon Soundcloud.
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Cover photo: Nara Shin for Cool Hunting