The Archivist is a new, re-issue label run by Robotic Empire founder, Andy Low. I had a chance to catch up with him recently to discuss his new label and tackle hard hitting questions like which is the best song by Thou.
Please state your name, for the record: Andy Low
First show: My parents took me to see A-Ha when I was 5. I fell asleep. I attended concerts for The Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine and a few other classic 90’s alt/rock bands… but the first underground/independent kind of show I went to was when the punks at my high school took me under their wing and brought me to see some local bands at a coffee shop: Unabomer, Positive State and some other Northern Virginia classics. A smoke bomb was let off, every cop in three counties showed up, a chair went through the window: I was hooked.
How did the idea for The Archivist come about? Robotic Empire has been my main project for 15+ years but after working a bit closer on digital releases and becoming a fan of streaming audio and embracing the changes in both technology and industry, I realized quite a lot of historic releases weren’t available in any format whatsoever. Physical production and distribution can come with a lot of costs and headaches, that it can be a bit prohibitive when it comes to potentially niche or nostalgic releases. So The Archivist was created as a way to make some classic releases available once again digitally, as well as formally release a few things that got lost in the ether. It’s a labor of love, but we split the income with the bands and are doing our best to grow the catalog with under-represented classics and new stuff alike.
How does your personal taste in music play into curating titles that are sought out for re-issue? I’m a longtime fan of independent and underground music of a wide variety and my tastes ever change — even full circle back into embracing pop, dance and electronic music lately — but having spent so much time working with left-of-center creative artists, The Archivist is a natural extension of those interests and friendships. I don’t feel we are particularly genre-specific, and would like to see the styles we represent expanded even further going forward.
How big of a role to the artist/bands play in terms of re-releasing the albums? We obviously make sure we have a band’s approval and blessing for releasing material, but the re-release process is a bit different than a new release where there’s typically marketing plans, a big promo push and lots of legwork involved. The Archivist often acts as a distribution method for older material that fans may already be familiar with, but is otherwise unavailable. I feel it’s important to have these classic tunes available in modern, widespread digital formats.
What’s in store for 2016? It all depends on what falls into place, but we’ve been in talks with Snacktruck about making two absolutely killer unreleased albums of theirs finally available. Two Grief records are on deck for digital release (to coincide with vinyl reissues by Fuck Yoga from Macedonia), two albums from The Sawtooth Grin, along with some archival and new material from the Employer, Employee guys out of Austin. Their rippin’ new band Pushmen has some great tunes, as did their former project Ratking. Pretty stoked to make those available and to continue chasing other classic bands for their lost material!
What’s the toughest part of running The Archivist? Running and distributing reports isn’t exactly glamorous or fun, but necessarry too make sure everyone’s informed of their sales and streaming activity, and so they can be paid of course.
Favorite Thou song: Although I love that their hardline militant vegan straight-edge frontman covered Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf,” the condensed bludgeonry of “Smoke Pigs” has always been a personal fav. It’s hard to go wrong with Thou though, there’s truly great material on almost everything they’ve released.
Thanks for your time Andy!