A great interview with Keith Abrahamsson, the co-founder of Mexican Summer record label as he speaks to Urban Outfitters all about the label and the initial ideas behind the launch of Anthology Recordings, launched in 2005. We have the pleasure of working with incredible artists brought to us by these labels including Quilt, Tamaryn, No Joy, Weyes Blood, Torn Hawk, Träd, Gräs och Stenar and Andrew Kidman just to name a few!
What conversations and ideas led to Anthology’s initial launch?
I’d always had an interest in old records and re-issue material. At the time, Mexican Summer didn’t exist. I was working for our parent label, Kemado. Kemado is more traditionally structured as far as labels go and we weren’t exploring any sort of short-run editions or even one-off type deals with bands. At the time re-issue culture was not anywhere near where it is now. It’s really picked up over the last five years. There were always re-issue labels but they were just passionate record collectors, maybe sometimes they’d bootleg them or sometimes it would be legit. My passion for those records manifested itself into what seemed at the time not only the most financially available way for me to pursue it, but a forward-thinking angle to take. It was digital only when we launched. That was the first incarnation of the label. It was that way until we went on a hiatus in 2010.
What were the big challenges then?
The challenge then is that people were still not really sold on digital. A lot of the artists that I contacted were either like, “Yeah, sure, fuck it, go ahead and put it up.” There was a lot of that. Everything I did was legitimate. I never put anything on the website that wasn’t responsibly sourced and thoroughly communicated with the artist. The adopters of what we were doing—the press, like Wired or tech companies—thought it was cool. We were branded as the ‘anti iTunes’ which was a cool angle at first.
Did the deep music heads take to it right away?
It was a challenge building a new audience. Traditionally a lot of the people who would buy into those records were the kind of people who wanted something tangible. That was tricky to navigate. Even then it was still tougher to download music on the internet. It wasn’t as wide-spread. Youtube wasn’t what it is now. There wasn’t one place you could access this stuff digitally. We were trying to create a hub for this stuff that was not just “Okay come here and buy the record if you want to download it.” We ran tons of editorial. I was working with a lot of writers. We had our own series that were digs we would do with Simply Saucer and bands like that. We would take material that had never been released before and re-lease it digitally. We were trying to be as proprietary as we could. Peak interest that way for people who collect records and like to know about bands.