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CULTURE

Ghostly Swim: Interview with Sam Valenti

CULTURE

Ghostly Swim: Interview with Sam Valenti

by Brian Fichtner
on 24 April 2008
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For years, Ghostly International, the indie juggernaut of Avant-Pop music, has been redefining the record industry with innovative collaborations and a brand awareness that puts most labels to shame. On 21 April, the fruits of their latest collaborative efforts paid off in the release of "Ghostly Swim", a 19-song compilation made exclusively for Adult Swim and available for free download. The kicker? Ghostly mascots (yes, mascots) BoyCatBird make their animated debut in the music video "City Suckers," by Daniel Garcia. To coincide with this flurry of activity, the label has also launched new versions of both the Ghostly and BoyCatBird website. CH took a moment to ask founder and CEO Sam Valenti some questions about these latest developments.

As an indie label owner, you've obviously taken some unique steps toward enhancing your brand. Ghostly is one of the only companies taking a lifestyle approach to the music label. What guides your choices in brand enhancements such as the new BoyCatBird/Adult Swim project?
We get in the sandbox with other creative companies whenever it makes sense. We obviously love Adult Swim as do a lot of our fans, so it was a no-brainer. We were allowed a lot of creative latitude to represent the brand both musically and visually.

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On the visual tip, it made sense that our mascots, BoyCatBird, would be front and center. They were created by our good friend, Detroit-artist Michael Segal and have been a visual part of the label since our first release "Hands Up For Detroit" by Matthew Dear and it was a chance to give them the spotlight.

And how did the project come about? Who approached whom?
We had been talking to Adult Swim about music for their "bumps" and it just developed from there. It was mutual in that respect.

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Who selected the content for the compilation and what were the criteria for the songs selected? What guided the decision to mix Ghostly artists and label friends?
Diversity! The idea for all Ghostly compilations is to bring a solid crew of talent from across the genre spectrum.

With our Idol Tryouts compilation series, we've always featured artists we love, regardless of label affiliation. We see it as a big extended family of like-minded artists. I compiled the collection but these things come triple distilled with feedback from the Ghostly team and friends, plus spending time mixing and arranging with Josh Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv).

How long will the content be live on the Adult Swim site? Do you anticipate future Ghostly music/BoyCatBird animation shorts?
The music and video will live on their site for two months, we'll do a CD version later this year.

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Yes, BoyCatBird will definitely see more animated adventures, we just released the toys too by Android 8. This aspect is totally a dream come true, to have BoyCatBird in physical and animated styles has been something I've dreamed about for ages. I got all misty when the first molds came back.

What's next in the cross pollination efforts of Ghostly International?
We try to keep it eye level and work with people when they want to work with us. Currently, we are working with a favorite label of ours on a project right now that should be out by summer.

The point of being involved in music and art is to try to keep things interesting for both our fans and ourselves. It's an advantage that small companies like ours have, so it would be a shame not to get in the sandbox once in a while.

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