Label of love
Local label Friendship Fever signs national acts and will host a “rad” live showcase
Running and funding a record label out of your home while working full-time day jobs in the music industry may seem like a daunting task, but local couple Christopher and Sabrina Watson are taking it head-on with their Sacramento-based label Friendship Fever. Housing acts like Father John Misty’s David Vandervelde, Neighbor Lady, Imaginary Tricks, minihorse, Sacramento mainstay Honyock and more, the label is now planning a showcase to invite the city into their world.
“It’s nothing but a labor of love,” said Christopher, a 38-year-old creative director for Music Tastes Good, a southern California-based music festival. “It’s a passion project for my wife and I to be able to release records that we’re super into, by people that we like working with.”
But it takes more than passion to keep a business afloat, and the Watsons have run into their share of unique difficulties operating in Sacramento.
“There’s not a ton of independent record retail out here,” Christopher said. “Back in the day, when I first started working in the independent record label world, it was a whole lot easier to sell records.”
Still, Friendship Fever is undeterred and remains inspired by its hometown.
“Sometimes the local scene can be a little difficult to navigate, because there’s only a couple of successful bigger venues in town, and more recently, some of the smaller venues have had a hard time getting a go at it,” Christopher said. “Still, I feel like there is something pretty magical happening in town right now. There’s some great live music, there’s some folks piecing together some elements in the very beginning stages of what I think might be a pretty viable scene in Sacramento. So that’s been encouraging.”
Watson name-dropped festivals like the upcoming Sol Blume along with rockers Drug Apts and rappers like Mozzy and Hobo Johnson as signs of Sacramento’s rising music scene. Although he admitted that “we haven’t really set ourselves up as trying to be the voice of the Sacramento scene,” it’s clear Friendship Fever wants to make their imprint on the city.
“I feel like Sacramento is a place where you can be yourself.” he said. “I love Sacramento. It just fits our overall vibe for Friendship Fever.”
Like every other label in the current landscape, much of Friendship Fever’s releases are centered on digital sales and streaming services, but it also peddles collectors’ items like vinyl or cassette hard copies. The family business is also finding ways to generate income for artists through licensing deals with movies like the upcoming indie film Summer Night and TV shows like TNT’s Animal Kingdom that want to use their music.
Now, it all culminates with the Friendship Fever showcase at The Red Museum on March 30, featuring performances from Imaginary Tricks, minihorse, Neighbor Lady and Honyock, with the latter set to present their soothing indie rock sound in the form of the record El Castillo this summer, featuring a collaboration with David Vandervelde.
“It’s just a way for us to invite people to check out some of the artists we’re working on,” Christopher said before adding, “it’s just an opportunity to show off some fucking rad live bands.”