Musicscan: What made you want to quit radio and start a label instead?
Kimchee Records: Where did you get the idea that I had quit radio? I have not and may never quit. I love doing it too much! I have been a DJ on WMBR in Cambridge since 1991, hosting their local live music show "Pipeline!" since 1994. My partner in Kimchee, Andy Hong, founded the program in 1989 and has been an active engineer for the live performances ever since. Just 7 weeks ago I left "Pipeline!" to begin hosting the alternate Monday edition of "Lost and Found," a show airing weekday from noon-2:00 pm and featuring mostly obscure music from the '60s-early '70s. The label began in 1996, concurrent with my hosting "Pipeline!," and was an excuse to release 40 of the live performances associated with the show. Those tracks became our first Kimchee release, the double CD set known as "Pipeline! Live Boston Rock on WMBR," which featured acts like Morphine, Come, Buffalo Tom, Helium, and tons more.
Musicscan: How did you finance the label in the beginning?
Kimchee Records: I was co-owner of a small liquor store in my hometown and used the modest profits the store had generated from Massachusetts lottery ticket sales.
Musicscan: How did you get into music as a teenager?
Kimchee Records: I got into music as a 7-year old. I bought "Beatles '65" shortly after it came out. If you must do the math you will discover that I'm quite a bit older than your average indie label owner. No, please don't call me "Dad." That was the beginning of my obsession. My mother breaking that first Beatles album over her knee certainly didn't cure it. That just made me want to buy more...more...more!
Musicscan: How is the work divided between Andy and you?
Kimchee Records: I do all the day-to-day work. Andy records many of the bands whose albums we release and is the Kimchee webmaster. Andy also has a number of other companies he's involved with. He may be the hardest working (and playing) dynamo I've ever known! And he currently provides financial support for the label.
Musicscan: What are the best and worst aspects of running a label?
Kimchee Records: Best: Putting this wonderful music out for the world. Worst: Not having the financial resources to break it in a big way market-wise. So much of it deserves a bigger audience.
Musicscan: How is your relationship with your bands? Do you know all of them personally? Have you signed bands from demos only or do you have to meet the people before you work with them?
Kimchee Records: We know everybody personally. I think our relationships with the bands are very positive. Occasionally small misunderstandings develop, we are human after all. We have always met the bands before working with them. Andy is far more the socialite than me. You can often find him in the clubs experiencing the music and hanging with our Kimchee band folk, way more than I do. Of course it helps that he's single and lives a few blocks away from where it's all happening. I, on the other hand, own a house 35 miles north of Boston, am married with 2 kids and another on the way, and a dog. In my case going out to see bands means I'm not returning home until 2-3:00 in the morning and then I'm waking up at 6:30 to get the kids ready for school. Those are difficult hours, my friend...once again just do the math. But I do end up knowing our bands because I must work somewhat intimately with them when releasing their music or planning release parties or attending festivals.
Musicscan: What has been your best-selling record so far?
Kimchee Records: Our first, the "Pipeline! compilation. Followed by Geoff Farina's "Blobscape" and 27's "Animal Life."
Musicscan: Is there a focus on local bands or do you sign bands solely because of their quality? Since it seems like there are quite a few bands from the Northeast on Kimchee.
Kimchee Records: There has indeed been a focus on New England bands because our proximity to the scene and our intimate association with a local music radio show has given the locals a boost in our consciousness. But we believe the locals we pick up are synonymous with quality. You must believe me when I say Boston and its environs has an amazing number of bands to choose from. We just like to choose the greatest among them if we can. That said, we are in no way averse to releasing music from bands outside New England. In fact we are putting out a CD by Nedelle from Oakland, California in May.
Musicscan: Can you live off of the label or do you have another "regular" job?
Kimchee Records: Live off the label...HAH! This is currently my "regular job" but only because my remarkable wife Danyelle has a well-paying job with a software company and partner Andy makes it possible in other ways. I sold my liquor store (which provided me with a comfortable living for many years but was a vocation I hated) 4 years ago so as to immerse myself in something I loved, but I could never have done it if not for the existence of the aforementioned angels. I am on a backward track financially but moving forward on the track toward self-respect.
Musicscan: Can you imagine doing Kimchee for the rest of your life or is there something else that you could picture yourself doing 20 years down the road?