Sign on the Sacred line
Local tattoo artist funds new music label
Veteran local tattoo artist David Singletary recently found a new use for his ink: signing record contracts.
Officially last summer, Singletary began bankrolling a licensed music business, Sacred Art Records, which operates out of a large upstairs office inside his tattoo shop/museum on Main Street downtown.
Singletary explained that his music interest actually started several years ago, when re-recording the early-'80s acoustic songs of friend Captain Don, Chico’s resident sword swallower and legendary circus man. Numerous other local CD projects followed, featuring bands such as Union of the Dead and the Whitewall Slicks. Soon, Singletary says, he was lending out thousands of dollars on handshake deals, which he admits was fine—for a while.
“I got screwed a few times for trusting people,” he winces, leaning back in an office chair. Consequently, his new label—open to any and all styles of music—offers standard, entry-level contracts that provide security while allowing limited, “low-cap” compensation should a band move to a major label. He cites legendary indie labels such as northern Virginia’s Discord Records and Tang Records, of Boston, as influential models.
“Chico never had anything like this when I was growing up,” Singletary says. Nowadays his 15-year old son, Seth, knows all the local bands and keeps him updated on who’s happening.
“I don’t see anybody getting rich off this,” Singletary continues. “But maybe we could help that one band that could break.”
“Definitely not in this for the money,” agrees Jimbo Berry, part-time Brick Works employee who, along with former Riff Raff booker Katie Perry, runs the label. “Our goal is to find serious local bands that want to be full time with touring and recording.”
Although Sacred Arts Records doesn’t provide any distribution, Berry says the label can offer some of the finest digital recording in town from Ryan Sanders of Phresh Studios. Currently, the label sends all CDs for mastering to a Denver-based company.
A recent Chico State graduate in music promotion, Perry explains that she learned firsthand about the contractual side of the music biz while writing (and re-writing) contracts as a local booker.
“I saw the importance of developing good press kits, having a great-sounding CD to send to management companies and local bookers,” says Perry. “[Sacred Art] really just wants to help local groups take it to another level with regional exposure and out-of-town bookings.”
The label plans to set up a booth when the national Warped festival tour comes nearby in order to push such current acts as Red with Envy (melodic metal), Oddman (metal), Hit by a Semi (punk) and Captain Don. For now, the bands are getting radio exposure on Z-Rock and there is a Red with Envy CD release party scheduled at the Brick Works on Thursday, Oct. 30.
Drummer Nick Harris from Red with Envy sounds excited to be on the Sacred Art team. Since the Chico (via Redding) group signed its six-month recording contract last August, the label has found the band a manager and booking agent.
“We went from counter-rolling to totally rolling forward,” Harris says. “David is a total straight-shooter. We’ve really been wanting to have a good-sounding CD for our fans. … It’s all been positive.”
A similarly appreciative Berry says the opportunity to work for Singletary is allowing him “to learn a lot fast” in the field. While Singletary provides computers, office supplies, promotional materials and studio time, the small, burgeoning label still has a volunteer feel to it.
“I know for all of us the satisfaction would be in seeing local bands succeed," says Berry. "It’s good for the Chico scene all around, and David sees that and wants to be a part of it."