Meet Pittsburgh's newest label, Dig Sonic Records | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Meet Pittsburgh's newest label, Dig Sonic Records

click to enlarge Bill Zeker, Dig Sonic Records founder
Bill Zeker, Dig Sonic Records founder
In 2018, Bill Zeker ran into a problem. A steamfitter by day, he spent the better part of the last 10 years playing in Pittsburgh rock bands like Fallen Monument. This meant that he always had a place to practice and store the music equipment he's acquired over the years. But two years ago, Zeker found himself band-less.

"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?

The team building was actually really easy. I had a lot of ideas for many different things I wanted the label to be able to do. I also had the sense to know that some of these ideas were out of my realm and I would need other talented and creative people on my team to be able to build the label the way that I wanted. Luckily I am fortunate enough that I am surrounded by some really talented and creative friends and musicians that are just crazy enough to get on board with the idea of starting a record label, although I think the free beer and t-shirts may have helped convince them. 

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!



Keeping the ambition to move forward, we found ways to work from home together and still be productive. We did team Zoom meetings and worked on editing music and a music video. And since our podcast team already resided together that really helped us to be able to record our first podcast and announce the bands and the label. I also used the at home time to search and listen to some of the great local bands we have right here in Pittsburgh.

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.


Are there any labels that you drew inspiration from when creating Dig Sonic?
Besides some of the obvious "indie" labels (i.e. Sub Pop, Rough Trade, Dischord and even going back to Motown, Stax, and Sun Records) which were all innovative and had a great impact on music, I have actually been checking out labels and bands that were more comparable to the position we are in, notably in today's music era, trying to see how some of the things that are working for those labels now, and trying to come up with creative ideas of what we can do to be better. The reality is, success for us (especially for where we are at now), is getting these original bands the exposure they need to be able to continually grow their following and notoriety, while allowing them the time to work on their music. In turn, if we stay true to the process of promoting the types of bands that have the traits, drive, and creativity we are looking look for, hopefully, the label can create a spark that sustains credibility for what we do, how we do it, and most importantly from the bands we are proud to put out there. Just like a lot of those great “indie labels” that came before us.

Are you currently accepting submissions? If so, how can people submit to you?
I guess this would be a good time to announce that yes, we are going to start taking submissions. Bands can send submissions to digsonicrecords@gmail.com, or go to the submissions tab at DigSonicRecords.com to include a short bio, music, or a link to music.

Anything else you feel is important to know?
One thing people should know is that our objective at Dig Sonic Records is to support our community and the local music and art scene of this city. We hope the people that also appreciate music go out and support some of the great bands, artists, and venues that Pittsburgh has to offer. 

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