Output Recordings: 1996-2006
I've just heard the rather tragic news that Trevor 'Whatever' Jackson has decided to call it a day on his legend-in-its-own-lifetime label, Output Recordings.
In an official statement to Pitchfork, Trevor cited financial difficulties and "friends turning into monsters" (anyone who saw the full-page ad he took out in Vice etc last year will have a good idea of who that refers to..) as being among the reasons for his decision to throw in the towel. And while he gratefully acknowledged those who have supported the label over the years, it was this rather depressing sentence which really which stood out to me: "I never wanted to have all my passion and enthusiasm knocked out of me...But somehow it's happened."
You can read more here
Output Recordings was more than just a label. It was totally, daringly independent, in a climate where 'indie' usually denotes a stategic alliance with EMI (ahem). Output releases weren't just ambitious and distinctive, they were diverse (sometimes to a maddening degree...), beautifully packaged and lovingly conceived - the aesthetic of the label was one and the same as its sound.
Trevor also gave a leg-up to smaller artists and labels; I think in particular of DFA - whose classic early singles, including LCD Soundsystem's 'Losing My Edge/Beat Connection' and 'Yeah' and The Rapture's 'House of Jealous Lovers' were released in association with Output.
Colder, Black Strobe, Kate Wax, Four Tet and Mu were all contributors to the label; and in most cases Jackson picked up their work before anyone else had even had a sniff. I mean this is a label that released 'Losing My Edge' and 'Paris Hilton' - probably two of the greatest indie tunes EVER. That in itself is a worthy legacy, but there's so much more.
In a last, typical gesture, Jackson will be offering the final few Output releases for free download at their site, from October 1st. Check the sidebar for the link.
And, in the meantime, raise your glasses to ten years of Output Recordings - we may never see the likes of it again. Rest in peace; at least you went out without selling out. And Senor Jackson - good luck in whatever you now choose to do.