(pictured above, Sarah Moody spilling a bowl of cereal all over her lap)
Sarah Moody is the General Manager of Hardly Art, a fledgling label founded by Sub Pop early last year. Already they have a roster of six national bands, and boast international distribution extending to the U.K. and New Zealand. Sarah co-manages the label with General Employee Nick Heliotis, who, with a little help from neighbors Sub Pop, run the day-to-day operations. And although Hardly Art do share some resources with Sub Pop, as Sarah mentions below, they are two entirely different labels.
I first spoke with Sarah sometime over the summer when I did a profile on Pretty & Nice, and have since kept in touch with her for various reasons, all of which regarded my obsession with Get Young. (And you know, maybe sometimes I was just looking for a little conversation). So after a while, I figured, why not do an interview! She does cool things! And with music, no less!So here we have an interview with the (soon-to-be) illustrious Sarah Moody, dispelling myths about the relationship between Sub Pop and Hardly Art, illuminating the label’s origin, and generally talking about what it takes to be a wicked sweet record label.
To start things off, how did you get involved with Sub Pop, and how did that lead to your job at Hardly Art?
I interned at Sub Pop in â€™04 with Steve Manning in the publicity department â€“ I was a junior in college at the time, so the idea of being somehow involved (albeit unpaid) with one of my favorite labels was a dream come true. I moved to Seattle for the summer, and went in pretty much every day… it was basic stuff for the most part â€“ helping out with mailings, putting together press kits, updating the press database, etc. â€“ but I got to meet some great people and go to a ton of shows, so it seemed like a good deal to me. In the fall I had to go back to Minnesota to finish school, and the following spring I sent Steve an email asking if heâ€™d need help again that summer (this is while attempting to decide whether to move to Chicago or Seattle) â€“ he wrote back almost immediately, so I decided to head west. Shortly after, he offered me a part-time job as his assistant, which eventually led to me being hired full-time in Sub Popâ€™s publicity department. I was there for about a year and a half, until I was offered the chance to be involved with Hardly Art, and switched over to that job. Itâ€™s a classic case of good timing, for the most part.
What are you trying to do differently as president (is that your official title?) and what do you see in the future of Hardly Art?
My official title is General Manager, and Nick (Heliotis) is the General Employee. In terms of how Hardly Art is different as a label, we run on a net profit split system â€“ which tends to be friendlier towards the artist â€“ and our contracts are very fair and basic. We try to make that process as straightforward as possible. Given that there are only two of us in the office here, I like to think that we have a stronger bond with our artists than many larger labels would â€“ weâ€™re here to promote each project and help our bands figure out the game of putting out what tends to be their first record. Itâ€™s a pretty supportive system.
How does Hardly Art find their talent? Do you use scouts? How reliant are you on MySpace?
Weâ€™re generally on the lookout for bands, which can include anything from finding small web articles, to getting tipped off by a friend or another band, to catching smaller bands at shows… itâ€™s all pretty random. There are a few people at Sub Pop involved in the A&R for Hardly Art, which definitely helps. I personally donâ€™t rely on MySpace much, but I know others use it, or are able to find some crazy band circles/associations just based on filtering through top friends and such. We also receive a decent amount of demo submissions, though Iâ€™ve yet to be blown away by any of those.