Ryan Emmett is proof there's life out in the sticks. A lifelong "townie" who grew up in Edinboro, Pa., he had the luck to live near a university with a good art school. "In a town this size, you can get a little taste of culture," he says, "and from there on you have to work against the grain, since it's kind of conservatively liberal." Sound a bit like Pittsburgh?
The formation of the band Pi Equals 3 catalyzed Ryan and his friends' involvement in experimental music. "We played some shows on campus and hit it off. It was interesting because I didn't realize that what we were doing would be accepted in this region. I realized that maybe there's some demand for more progressive fringe music." After the band dissolved, Emmett went solo with his unfortunately named noise project, Droopy Septum.
Emmett resolved to put out CD-Rs on his own label, dubbed Dynamo Sound Collective (the logo is a Pennsylvania keystone with an exclamation point), and then brought in friends to bolster his roster. In addition to Droopy Septum, the lineup includes Plainswalkers (a collaboration with Pittsburgh's Tusk Lord), Funlarious ("they write acoustic children's songs and then play them real drunk"), and New Jersey's Death By a Thousand Cuts. "They're pretty much straight-up harsh experimental noise, reminding me of horror movie soundtracks." Dynamo's latest product is a "high-quality bootleg" of Natura Nasa, recorded at Pitt's Bellefield Auditorium during a benefit concert for Music on the Edge.
Emmett was partly inspired by the members of Meisha, Arco Flute Foundation and Air Guitar Magazine -- several of whom attended Edinboro and promoted shows for touring bands there. Emmett got similar help from the Student Art League and brought in groups like The Psychic Paramount, as well as Pittsburgh bands such as The Sea, Like Lead.
Though he often looks to Pittsburgh for connections with friends who have moved here, Emmett is still in Edinboro finishing college. He doesn't know where he'll go next, but he's keeping the open-door policy of his label with modest goals and means."I'm not looking to be the next Load Records or some high-end avant-rock label," he says. "I just want to serve Western PA in at least a small way. I think the world is kind of shitty and [to paraphrase Godspeed You Black Emperor] if there are little points of light everywhere, at least it's better than the enveloping darkness." Visit www.dynamosound.cjb.net for more info.