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After this interview, there is a brief album review and concert info on the band Verlaine, so scroll down for that too!

With the decline of the recording music industry a tired topic, and our current economy swirling in the shitter, the notion of starting an indie record label in this climate sounds dubious at best. But the love of music is like any other love: Irrational. Beautiful. And a constant work in progress.

Enter Keya Imani, founder of fledgling label Cavelight Records, which officially launched in August with the signing of Verlaine. It is clear from meeting Imani that his devotion to is not part-time, even if he can’t put in full-time hours just yet. But with a web team in charge of getting Cavelight on the web, and Imani acting as label leader, Verlaine’s personal manager, PR machine, and searching for the next band to sign, it’s clear the candle is burning on both ends.

But right now, Imani says the primary focus isn’t on new bands so much as nurturing and making successful, his first band to sign, the Atlanta-based Verlaine. The two came together the old fashioned way: The bassist talked up the band, and Imani said to send some demos. “I was not expecting much. However when I finally came around and listened to it, I was blown away. I called Ryan (the bassist) up the same night and told him we should definitely work together.”


What the Cave Light website will look like…

Strong sentiment for a self-described “music snob,” with tastes all over the map. When I asked him if Cavelight would have an identifiable sound with its future bands, Imani said no. “Most indie labels prefer to stick to a specific sound…for me that’s unpropitious. If you’re strictly searching for an artist with a specific sound to add to your roster, then you are overlooking a region of talent.”

So what about the current state of the music scene? For every Clap Your Hands Say Yeah success story, there are literally thousands of bands on myspace who are ignored. What’s the best course of action for building a fan base?

The answer unsurprisingly, is rolling up your sleeves and working for it. Whether it’s promoting Verlaine’s music on their myspace page, or doing a small distribution deal with Atlanta’s Stick Figure records, Imani is doing everything he can. Including going green. “An incentive for buying albums on my label is that I give a percentage of every CD sale to help combat global warming and other environmental issues that we are facing. All my cd’s are made form recycled paper and plastic. By purchasing the albums, you can support the artist while helping our planet.”

A noble cause to tap in to. But also a smart way to stand out among other labels. Imani attributes the creative thinking to his time spent at the Creative Circus Portfolio School. [The author is also an alumni]. “I think the Circus helped me to a certain degree in the way I promote Cavelight Records and Verlaine…I do not send the same basic press kit to everyone. Each magazine, website, or radio station gets their own personal package.

And speaking of advertising, Imani’s parting advice for someone looking to start their own label echoes a famous long-running campaign. “Just do it! The more time passes by, the more regret you will have for not starting earlier.”

Verlaine’s self-titled EP. 2008
Cavelight Records.

Three kids (two still under legal drinking age) discovered the right blend of shoegaze, garage rock and post-punk. Those kids are Atlanta-based Verlaine, on their self-titled debut EP. It’s a strong collection of timeless songs, impassioned vocals, and nice keyboards, too. Only one song, “The thunder and the rain…” could’ve been left off the EP. To be fair though, it comes after the standout track called “Fool,” which does the Walkmen better than the Walkmen ever could. Other highlights are the sound collage freakout “Suffering Hotel,” the sickly time-changing waltz of “Blue,” and stellar opener “Silent Parade.

4 out of 5.

Verlaine’s CD Release show will be October 22nd at the Earl in Atlanta.

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