The Native Sound is an independent, DIY record label based in New York City “whose sole purpose is to release good music from honest and hard-working musicians.” Julio Anta, owner and operator, explains how the DIY attitude is incorporated into the label’s DNA and what his favorite part of running the Native Sound is.
BTRtoday (BTR): How did the Native Sound start?
Julio Anta (JA): I’m from South Florida where I came up in the hardcore and DIY scene. I booked a ton of shows and played in some bands, and always wanted to start a label. Fast forward to me living in New York, and my friend John Vanderslice wanted to put out two songs. So I put out a 7” flexi and went from there.
BTR: What is the Native Sound’s “sound?” There’s a wide variety of what you release.
JA: There’s definitely a diversity in the sound and in the people. That’s always been the goal. It can only be so diverse in this type of music. There’s definitely a preference for shoegaze and dreampop, and then we have bands like Koji, a singer/songwriter, who’s been a friend since long before we even started the label. Definitely a preference for all things reverb, though.
BTR: What do you look for in a new release?
JA: In the three and a half years I’ve been doing this, it was almost exclusively friends. Nowadays, I mostly look for bands that are looking to tour; I’m not looking to build up from square one with artists. Musically, I’m very into shoegaze, dreampop, [and that] reflects where the label is and what bands are accessible to us to work with.
BTR: What’s your favorite part about running the Native Sound?
JA: The most rewarding parts are when I get to pay bands. Even with DIY labels and labels bigger than TNS, when labels get to be big enough to pay them, it’s amazing. Seeing bands I work with at a show or watching them go on tour is amazing.
No Sun is a great example. They put out an EP prior to working with me, and they weren’t as fully formed as a lot of bands that come to the label. We worked much more from square one with them than others. They played a packed room at Saint Vitus, which was awesome to see from a band unknown from Salt Lake City [playing to a crowd even that big].
BTR: How would you recommend new labels to get off the ground?
JA: I think it’s different for everyone. Some labels will go on for years barely breaking even, and then there are others doing massive releases in their first year. Sticking to my roots in DIY and looking for as many opportunities to do everything myself [has worked]. Short of physically manufacturing the records, everything from the Native Sound is from me. I was able to pick up a lot of new skills from running the label. When you’re trying to keep the cost low and do the best for your bands, learning how to create flyers or album art with Photoshop, or video editing for music videos, or publicity for your band. Being open to doing new things and just learning are the best.
BTR: If there were anything you could do differently, what would it be and why?
JA: I would’ve focused on touring bands more than I did initially. With every band we work with now, it’s [now a given] that they have to tour. There were a lot of bands that were accessible to me when they were little baby bands not ready to tour. When I released the first Miserable 7”, the Native Sound was no one. But I like to think we both grew together, which is the best situation for both parties, I think.
Thank you to Julio for talking with us and for releasing excellent music. Stay tuned for more from the Native Sound soon!