Thursday, February 09, 2012

10 Questions with Justin Orcutt of Okie Tone Records

Okie Tone Records is a new record label based out of Tulsa, OK.  The label will launch with releases by John Moreland, Mike Williams, and The Brandon Clark Band.   

For more information on Okie Tone Records check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages. 

This interview was conducted with label owner Justin Orcutt via Facebook February 1-6, 2012

Dave:  What’s the story behind Okie Tone Records?  Why start a record label?

Justin Orcutt:  Okie Tone Records started as a direct result of Tulsa having amazingly talented artists that make incredible music. These guys play their hearts out night after night and put all they have into it. The problem is if you aren't going to The Mercury Lounge or The Colony somewhere like that, you probably aren't aware of them. We wanted to create a vehicle for them to reach the people that aren't spending their weekends at bars or clubs and get them in front of a larger audience. In the past few years there has been a localization of America where people want to have a connection with the products they buy and want to feel good about their money supporting locals. Music isn't any different, but how can people feel connected to something they don't know about or have never been exposed to? The purpose of Okie Tone Records is to promote these bands and make people aware that they don't have to outsource their entertainment. 

Dave:  What are you looking for in potential artists for the label?  Will the label have a, for lack of a better term. theme or focus?  How many artists have you signed already? 

Justin:  We believe that in Oklahoma there is something about music that crosses culture and class lines and ties us all together, so much so that it is often times overlooked or under appreciated. How many family get togethers involved Grandpa picking a guitar or Granny playing a piano while the cousins sang? Here it's more the rule than the exception. Maybe it’s the ruralness or a left over from all the hard times. Maybe it's a bi-product of all the churches. As far as the sound goes, it doesn't matter if it's Cow Punk, Western Swing, Country, or straight up Rock & Roll there is a common denominator between the sounds, which is roots music. That sound and the feelings they evoke are what we are trying to capture with Okie Tone. We're currently working with The Brandon Clark Band, John Moreland, both as a solo artist and with The Dust Bowl Souls and Mike Williams. We wanted to start with three solid artists that offer variety but stayed in line with the principle sound that we want Okie Tone to be associated with. There are many other amazing artists in the region we would love to work with and hope that once they see what we are doing, will want to be a part of it. Wouldn't it be great if we could offer our talent a way to do what they love AND not have to move?

Dave:  Will Okie Tone releases be available both physically (CD and vinyl) and digitally?

Justin:  Our plan is to make every release, full length, sampler, whatever, available in digital format. As for physical all the full lengths will be available on CD, with a good portion available on Vinyl. It's really going to depend on the artist and their fan base and what they are going to respond most to.

Dave:  Were/are there any record labels that you look to as an influence or a guide and/or that you’d like to emulate with Okie Tone Records? 

Justin:  With a lot of the classic older labels like Sun or Motown, there was a consistency, a real brand and if you had never heard of an artist before but were familiar with the label, you knew what style and sound to expect. If you bought an album that came out on Epitaph Records in the 90's, you knew what you were getting. That consistency with the brand is something that we hope to achieve with Okie Tone.

Dave:  According to the label’s Facebook page, you are planning on launching the label with John Moreland’s Everything the Hard Way and a sampler.  What other releases do you have in the works?  And speaking of Mr. Moreland, is there any chance of you re-releasing his back-catalog? 

Justin:  Yes, the first two releases for Okie Tone will Be "Everything The Hard Way" by John Moreland & The Dust Bowl Souls and our first sampler , Okie Tone Mixtape Vol. I. Some other upcoming releases we are excited about are a full length from Mike Williams and The Brandon Clark Band's "Live at Cain's Ballroom.” As for Mr. Moreland's back-catalog, you can look forward to a re-release of "Earthbound Blues" on Vinyl and CD in the very near future.

Dave:  What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry, piracy, SOPA/PIPA, and the takedown of the site MegaUpload? 

Justin:  The music industry in general is just like everything else made for mass consumption, processed and full of empty calories. There isn't any heart or authenticity in popular music anymore. 

There are mixed feelings here about everything involving the internet and music. On one hand, artists need to be compensated for their work, on the other hand the digital age has made it easier than ever for them to find an audience. We believe if you like an artist and what they are doing you should go out and buy their merchandise and support them. We also believe that information and the access of it isn't something that the Government has any business controlling. 

Dave:  What are your thoughts on the music scene in Oklahoma?

Justin:  Oklahoma is packed full of a very diverse group of talented artists. On any night of the week there is a great band playing in almost every town. The problem is we don't have the awareness needed to allow it to flourish. People are so used to seeing incredible musicians that sometimes they don't pay attention when they should. People need to release that if we want these artists to stick around and not move to L.A. or New York, we HAVE to support them, go to their shows and buy their merch. These artists are giving us all they got and we should give it back.

Dave:  This is a High Fidelity inspired question.  What are your top 5 favorite bands/artists, albums, movies, television shows, books/authors?

Justin:  Bands/Artist
1. Bruce Springsteen
2. The Beatles
3. The Ramones
4. Johnny Cash
5. Garth Brooks
*Honorary Mention Social Distortion

1. The Shawshank Redemption
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Sling Blade
4. The Big Lebowski
5. Forrest Gump

Television Shows
1. Mad Men
2. Breaking Bad
3. Lost
4. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
5. The Universe

1. Stephen King- The Dark Tower
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. Grapes of Wrath- Steinbeck
4. The Road Cormack McCarthy
5. S. E. Hinton - Rumblefish, The Outsiders

Dave:  What’s next for Okie Tone Records? 

Justin:  We are trying to create a brand, something Oklahoman's can get behind and be proud to call their own. The music is the engine driving the car but by no means the total picture. We have some pretty cool plans for the future. Stay tuned.

Dave:  Any final thoughts? 

Justin:  We, as Oklahomans', feel a true sense of pride in where we come from and what those around us create. We are proud to have the chance to put out this music that is so very relatable to anyone from the heartland and hope you all enjoy listening to the records half as much as we enjoy putting them out.

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