"I decided to build a permanent recording studio where I could practice and store my equipment in my backyard," he says. "Mainly because my wife said there was no room in the house for the equipment."
After about eight months, Zeker finished the studio and started inviting musicians over to jam. Thus, Pittsburgh's newest record label, Dig Sonic Records, was born.
"Many of the musicians that came to play expressed how much they liked playing in the studio and expressed an interest in recording there as well, so that is kind of how the idea came to mind," says Zeker. "The name Dig Sonic came from the idea that to start the process of building the studio; I had to basically dig up my yard."
Dig Sonic Records mainly focuses on garage/underground rock bands and has a team made up of musicians and artists that have been in the Pittsburgh music scene for most of the past decade. So far, the roster includes The Elemental, Flock of Walri, Fire At The Point, Fly Me Friendly, Victoria Susan, and Julius R.
City Paper chatted with Zeker over email about starting a label during a pandemic and what's next for Dig Sonic.
How did you build your team?
Together, this really hard-working group of people that love music have made it possible for the label to be able to operate cohesively. It was important that everyone be able to utilize their abilities, ideas, and knowledge to work towards the goals we are trying to achieve. Some of the things our team does includes: sound engineering, web design, video editing, social media, A&R, and we have our own podcast/video show. (We are also looking for bands to have on the show so feel free to contact us.)
What do you feel makes your label stand out from others?
I think there are a few things that will help us stand out as a record label. First and foremost we want to associate with and expose bands and artists that are driven and true to the music and image they want to create. We are dedicated to helping each artist maintain the direction they are pursuing and we want to give them the platform to get their music out there while best representing who they are. All of the Dig Sonic artists will have access to and will be encouraged to utilize our team to push themselves and seek new boundaries in their creative process. Of course, we hope that people like the music we put out, but the truth is, it is more important to me, and my team, that the bands and artists, (no matter the style or genre), like what they create before anyone else, and this is what we promote.
Lastly, I think something that will really help us stand out is the availability of our studio to our artists. We know that studio time can be expensive and comes often with time restraints. However, any band we sign and record with has full use of our recording studio for however much time it takes to finish their song or album. We know this can help a lot of bands, particularly those just starting out. I am sure as we continue to grow, the studio will be a place where local musicians will want to collaborate.
How has coronavirus affected you as a new label? How did you adjust to working at home?
Unfortunately, just as COVID-19 has impacted everyone, it also threw a wrench into our operations here at Dig Sonic. We had originally planned on having new music available from each of our artists before we officially launched the label. But when the virus hit we had to temporarily shut down the studio, so we knew we couldn’t release new music for all of our opening lineup bands and we were unsure about whether or not to keep our set launch date. Additionally, another impact to the whole music community was the inability to have live shows, which really hit us the hard, knowing we could not showcase these artists to the people who enjoy going to see new, interesting, live bands. Of course in the end, we moved forward, and fortunately enough The Elemental already had their EP ready, (which they had recorded in the Cal U recording studio), and used that for our launch point to start releasing music. The full is EP releasing soon, their "Double Dog" single is available now!
Tell me about your upcoming releases.
As things start to open back up, we are working to get back on track by bringing bands safely back into the studio and complete the plan of getting releases out there. The next release will be The Elemental's Lovely Distraction EP. Their single "Double Dog," as I said before, is available now. Fire at The Point has just finished recording their new album, which we are hoping to release in July. Toria Susan and Flock of Walri are setting up recording schedules, so we would love to see releases from them in the next few months. There are a few other bands that we have been talking with, so hopefully, we will have more content soon.