Announcing Artist in Residence 2020: Kramer
Greetings from quarantine!
We are very excited to announce that the legendary musician, producer, and Shimmy-Disc label founder KRAMER will be our 2020 Artist in Residence!
This 2020 Artist in Residence is unique among past years in that we are not just choosing a composer/performer, we are instead choosing someone who works with and through other artists. As a producer and label-head, Kramer has cultivated incredible art in a way that very few human beings ever have. Especially in these dark times, we think that his communal approach to creating art is vital.
Over the last four decades, Kramer has produced/performed/cultivated work from the likes of Daniel Johnston, Low, Will Oldham, Butthole Surfers, Sufjan Stevens, Bongwater, John Zorn, Jad Fair/Half Japanese, Galaxie 500, Luna, Danielson, Urge Overkill, Pussy Galore, King Missile, and even Gwar...
Here are some details on everything included in this year's residency: *
- Box Set includes 5 limited edition 12" vinyl records, pressed on deluxe colored vinyl.
- Features music from 5 distinct musical projects, each created/curated by Kramer.
- Top-loading printed box also includes unique art-print, signed by Kramer.
- Co-released with the legendary Shimmy-Disc Records.
- These 5 titles contained in the Box Set the will be the first 5 albums released by Kramer's reborn label.
- Each LP is being mixed on the historic Universal Audio 610 console that was used by Brian Wilson to create Smile, and the Pet Sounds stereo mixes, among other classic albums.
- Digital delivery includes monthly email updates from Kramer, each containing new digital audio from his various projects, complete with digital downloads in lossless WAV + AIFF + MP3.
- Your purchase not only supports JNR and Kramer, but also supports countless bands who will benefit from the re-emergence of Shimmy-Disc (one of the most important and fiercely adventurous labels of all time)
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Check out our “Best of Kramer” playlist and you’ll immediately understand the breadth of this dudes repertoire. It’s fucking insane.
The first of the five LPs in Kramer's Artist In Residence is from his new project, Let It Come Down. Listen to the first song "Monday" here.
Get to know Kramer
In a career spanning four decades, Kramer has positioned himself as one of the defining figures in post-punk music, while establishing Shimmy-Disc as one of the most influential independent labels of late 20th Century music. As part of Kramer’s residency with Joyful Noise Recordings, he’ll be creating a 5 LP box set and relaunching the Shimmy-Disc label, which has been dormant for over twenty years.
Kramer’s work in music covers a vast spectrum of sound, unified only by an unwavering commitment to experimentation and collaboration. Even a straight telling of Kramer’s bio reads like a wild tall tale. He’s toured as a member of The Fugs, and Butthole Surfers. He’s played bass for GG Allin, and live mixed Sun Ra. Kramer has produced records for dozens of artists, including Daniel Johnston, White Zombie, and Low. Through Shimmy-Disc, Kramer released albums from a fascinating roster of artists that includes Ween, gore metal heroes Gwar, King Missile, and Japan’s noise rock masters the Boredoms. There’s perhaps no other living figure with a greater connection to outsider music than Kramer.
While Kramer has operated successfully in the extreme margins of music, he’s also demonstrated an equal mastery of pop music, producing influential recordings from artists like Galaxie 500 and Will Oldham. Kramer even scored a bonafide hit in 1994, handling production duties for Urge Overkill’s take on Neil Diamonds’ "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon.” That song was featured on Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction soundtrack, and climbed up to a #59 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
Kramer first rose to prominence in the late 1970s performing with New York Gong, a side-project connected to ex-Soft Machine guitarist Daevid Allen’s prog rock warhorse Gong. The 1980s saw Kramer co-founding a number of significant groups, including Shockabilly, Bongwater, and Captain Howdy, a collaboration with famed magician Penn Jillette. But the creation of the Shimmy-Disc label in 1987 would prove to be one of Kramer’s most enduring projects. With Shimmy-Disc, Kramer coalesced his varied talents as a producer, curator, and musician into one inextricably linked whole. In the words of Joyful Noise Recordings’ founder Karl Hofstetter, “his label became his art medium.”
“I tried to release stuff no one else wanted to release,” Kramer says of his work with Shimmy-Disc. “I decided that I just wasn't going to stand for seeing all this great music I was producing languish unreleased, passing into obscurity and nothingness right before my very eyes. I knew that there would never be anything I could do about a work of art falling into obscurity, but I could certainly rise to the occasion and challenge the specter of nothingness by starting a record company and releasing the music myself, on vinyl. At least then it wouldn't be nothing. There had to be the opportunity, at least, to listen, or not listen. So I started Shimmy-Disc.”
Hofstetter considers Kramer’s talent for production as one of the artist’s most potent skills. “Kramer is a visionary. He sees greatness in other artists, and he draws that out of them in a really special way.” Kramer views his work as a producer in almost spiritual terms. “It's all about love,” he shares. “Producing, if it can be reduced to a single-word definition, is giving. And one cannot possibly give one's all, without love. I freely admit that if there's no love, I’m not going to do my best work. Daniel Johnston knew that, and so do I, thanks in great part to him. Working beside great artists changes you. I could make a list of them that goes back over forty years. I'm 61 now. I haven't forgotten a moment of it. Nothing is lost. Time wears us down, concealing us from our selves. It's the artist's job to reveal himself, or herself, to find where the gold is buried. It’s producer's job to help the artist dig it up.”
Kramer’s residency with Joyful Noise Recordings will incorporate all aspects of his creative expression. “I’m devoting the entirety of 2020 to the Artist-In-Residence series for Joyful Noise Recordings,” Kramer explains. “I’ll be focusing on my work as an artist and collaborator, precisely as I did when Shimmy-Disc was operational in the ‘80s and ’90s.”
The bulk of Kramer’s work for the Artist-In-Residence series will revolve around the creation of a 5 LP box set. While some details for the box set collection have yet to be worked out, Kramer provided an overview of the first project. “The first LP in the box set is Let It Come Down, a collaboration between myself and vocalist Xan Tyler. I’d been hearing Xan's voice in my dreams for decades, so you can imagine the shock I experienced when I first heard her voice while awake. I invited her to work with me on an LP of songs I'd been working on for a long, long time.”
Kramer emphasized that production for the box set will utilize a historic piece of studio gear. “Each LP is being mixed on the same Universal Audio 610 console that Brian Wilson created Smile, and the Pet Sounds stereo remixes on. This is the same console from Bill Putnam's United Western Recorders on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood that drew hundreds of the greatest artists of the ‘60s to its doors. Love’s Forever Changes was recorded and mixed on this console. This is an opportunity unlike any I've ever had before. It's also a god-like ideal for my re-entry into the analog realm, which is where Shimmy-Disc began in 1987; with tape machines and vinyl LPs. It's thrilling to be back in the land of vacuum tubes and vintage analog circuitry, on the same console that gave birth to some of our most precious musical memories. It really is like being born again.” There’s no doubt that 2020 is a strange year to launch a project of this scale - or really, any project at all. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly all aspects of our daily lives. But for Kramer, the drive to create remains a paramount element of the human experience. “Make Art, make Love, die. With or without this virus, this is what we do. It's all we can do.”
Thanks for listening! <3 JNR