ABOUT LIGHT IN THE ATTIC
The story of Light In The Attic Records begins, curiously enough, with a motor crash in Madrid, Spain (and a rather bad one at that). Light In The Attic Founder (most of us call him Matt) was but a teenager in the middle of one of those requisites of American post-high school life - the "find yourself" hostel-hop through Europe. The journey usually involves, at the very least, a Eurail pass, a backpack, and a pair of hiking boots. (For the record, Matt swears he has never owned a pair of hiking boots, but I digress.)
This particular sunny day in Madrid, however, was to have lifelong consequences for young Matt Sullivan. Aside from the site of the totaled Fiat (tin cans, they are), something of even greater interest immediately caught Matt's eye. The unlucky car he had just hit was filled to the brim with records - Stooges, Love, Suicide, MC5 - in other words, REALLY GOOD records. Matt introduced himself to his unwilling-yet-amiable "crash mate", Iñigo Pastor, who just happened to own the stellar Spanish labels Vampi Soul and Munster Records. The shock of the accident suddenly took a proverbial back seat in the scheme of things as the two immediately began to talk music. Within an afternoon's time, a transatlantic bond based on the love of music was formed.
Matt immediately ditched his plans for the rest of his European sojourn and soon began camping out at the Vampi/Munster headquarters in Madrid. Though Matt and LITA co-owner Josh Wright's love of music began with high school radio, in Spain Matt was able to see firsthand the actual BUSINESS of putting out records. He soon discovered that the thrill of finding a long-lost gem and reissuing it to a grateful public was often tempered by the more loathsome side of the music business - endless unpaid orders, flaky artists, and threats of lawsuits from hustlers and frauds of all sorts. But Matt remained undeterred, and with guidance from his Spanish mentors, began making plans for a record label of his own.
Once back in the States, the Master Plan began at once. The idea was to build a label which placed as much emphasis on releasing quality reissues as it did developing new talent. In the late '90s, the dot-com boom provided much-needed funds for Light In The Attic's humble birth in a basement in Fremont, Seattle. Ironically, though, it was the dot-com bust that really got LITA going. Suddenly unemployed, Matt wasted none of his new-found free time. Instead, he began building LITA from scratch. His tools? A little savings and a lot of tenacity.
Light In The Attic first became a player in the Seattle music scene by producing live shows by rising artists like Saul Williams, Interpol, and Peanut Butter Wolf. Many of LITA's shows were sold-out affairs, and the production side of the label's business quickly gained a reputation in the Emerald City.
But the plan was always to be a record label first, and a production company second. Armed with much-needed funds that the shows provided, the company began to focus on the business of making records in late 2002. Eventually, a much-coveted reissue deal was signed with the highly underrated '60s soft-psych group The Free Design. With the LITA ball finally rolling, Matt soon called upon lifelong friend Josh Wright for help with the business. Josh provided the necessary energy and business know-how needed to transform Light In The Attic Records into the much-admired indie label it is today.
Since that first Free Design release, Light In The Attic has proven that its company mission is simple: put out great music, wherever it may be found, however it may sound. It's this dedication to music - first and foremost - that has already created a diverse and respected catalog of releases. LITA's commitment to quality, as well as its disdain for convention, has already produced instant classics. Highlights include the critically acclaimed Wheedle's Groove compilation, an exuberant affirmation of Seattle's soul heritage; the reintroduction of Sixto Rodriguez, a Detroit born singer-songwriter who effortlessly blends the sounds of folk, psych, and soul. And who can ignore the recent reissues of Greenwich folk great Karen Dalton, funk goddess Betty Davis, and legendary French troubadour Serge Gainsbourg? The music is timeless, and a must-have for any music fan. In addition, LITA now distributes a number of impressive labels.
Recent signings by Light In The Attic of up-and-coming bands like The Black Angels only confirm LITA's dedication to its original mission. Whether releasing classic reissues or grooming young bands of the future, Light In The Attic continues to defy convention by refusing to pigeonhole itself. It's safe to say that you can expect more surprises - and more great music - in the very near future.
And they owe it all to a badly mangled Fiat.
Well, sort of...