Column 283: Young Love Records’ dynamic duo; Ted Stevens, The Bruces, So-So Sailors, Netherfriends tonight…

Category: Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:46 pm August 11, 2010
Young Love's Erica Quitzow and Gary Levitt.

Young Love's Erica Quitzow and Gary Levitt.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Column 283: Love and Records

The dynamic duo behind Young Love…

Oliver Morgan of local indie band Landing on the Moon described them this way (and I’m paraphrasing because it was after a long night at O’Leaver’s): They each do their own thing, completely, separately, and it’s obvious when you listen to their bands, but there’s no mistaking that they’re together in everything — their music, their business, their lives.

Oliver was talking about Gary Levitt and Erica Quitzow, the owners/operators of Young Love Records, the label that signed Landing on the Moon earlier this year. But in addition to running a label and a recording studio, the couple also each has his and her own band that the other plays in — Setting Sun and Quitzow. And the two couldn’t sound more different.

Setting Sun, Levitt’s project, is low-fi, mainly acoustic, neo-psychedelic indie rock reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel, The Decemberists, even a bit of Arcade Fire. The single “Driving” off the just-released Fantasurreal chugs like a tidy indie freight train, while “Make You Feel” is as psychedelic as you can get with a trumpet playing a counter melody. Levitt played most of the instruments on the album, but Quitzow added backing vocals, bass, violin and cello.

Then there’s Quitzow, Erica’s sassy, sexy dance project, whose only goal is getting the audience to forget about their dreary lives for a little while and have some fun. Juice Water, her just-released second album, is a synth-driven dance-floor ass-shaker, thick with beats, bass and Quitzow’s snarling, cooing, barking vocals. Levitt produced the record and added some percussion and bass.

“I mixed both the records, but we mostly write by ourselves, though we do help each other in bits along the way,” Levitt said.

“Gary has the studio days, and I work through the night,” Quitzow said. “I ask him for feedback sometimes and he brings a lot of fantastic ideas, particularly for arrangements. Sometimes he’ll play a bass or percussion track. After tracking, he brings the production magic to the records. He’s an obsessive studier of sound technology and can make things sound however I want.”

The couple first met playing music together, eventually becoming collaborators on more than just music. “We’re not married and we really don’t relate to the idea, though we fully respect anyone who does,” Quitzow said. “Marriage doesn’t fit in with our approach to life, we’re either together or we’re not. I don’t participate in any other religious institution, so why this one? Ultimately, music brought us and keeps us together, it’s our biggest passion.”

So I guess it only made sense for them to start a record label, which Levitt quipped was a “really smart career move.” They formed Young Love in 2004 as a musicians’ collective — they now have four bands on the roster, rounded out by Seattle band Skidmore Fountain.

So how did a label based out of New Paltz, New York (just outside of Poughkeepsie) discover and sign a band located halfway across the country? “We knew Oliver through his brother and played together in Omaha,” Levitt said. “We also hung out and housed Little Brazil and Ladyfinger when they played in New York. I can’t remember which came first, but we hit it off and fell in love. We love their music and hard working spirit and also their genuineness.

“Each band on Young Love Records is part of a family,” Levitt added. “If a brother or sister does well, they help their siblings along the way. This interview is probably a case in point. I’m not sure you’d be talking to us right now if it weren’t for Oliver Morgan and Landing on the Moon.”

True, but then again, without Landing on the Moon, it’s unlikely that the bands would even be coming to The Waiting Room Thursday night. Pulling from everyone’s resources seems an obvious recipe for success, and one of the only reasons to be part of a label in this age of record industry decay. Unless, of course, your label is Merge.

“It would be great to become as influential as Merge Records,” Levitt said. “I would still want to record bands all the time, but it would be a dream come true to own some more great gear. If we sold as many records as Neutral Milk Hotel or Arcade Fire, I could probably get that Fairchild 670 I dream of.”

With their label having just signed a deal with distributor Red Eye (Kill Rock Stars, Barsuk, Warp), that two-channel compressor just might be a little more within reach.

“Success is defined in many ways for us,” Quitzow said, “by people coming to our shows knowing the music because they downloaded it for free, or when people sing along and dance at a show, but financial success may continue to come primarily from licensing. Oh how I fantasize about BMI checks.”

She also fantasizes about being alone, something that rarely happens when you’re on the road with the guy who isn’t your husband. “Right now I’m on tour and exhausted from connecting,” she said. “I’ve been connecting so intensely with people at shows and people who we stay with. The music is a vehicle for conversation and sharing experiences, and I’m pretty tapped from meeting so many shockingly like-minded people. I want to be in a padded room or a stimulation-deprivation tank for like 10 days.”

Stimulation-deprivation tank? All I can say to that, Erica, is welcome to Omaha.

Setting Sun and Quitzow play with Landing on the Moon, Thursday, Aug. 12, at The Waiting Room. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $7.

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room, it’s a trio of superstars: Ted Stevens (Cursive, Mayday, Lullaby for the Working Class), The Bruces (Alex McManus) and The So-So Sailors (indie rock supergroup extraordinaire) all take the stage for one night only. $7, 9 p.m.

Down at Slowdown Jr., Chicago indie-pop band Netherfriends (Emergency Umbrella Records) performs with Sam Martin (Capgun Coup). $5, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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