Local imprint, Mesa Recordings, is rolling along like some sort of electronic music freight train. The label founded by Paul Feathericci, Brian Mayhall and Ben Wright of D Numbers kicked off the operation last year to no small amount of praise, and things have been going well ever since.
Thus far, the boys have released a handful of records from local and non-local artists and solo recordings from both Wright and Mayhall. They’ve also hosted dance parties at venues like Rouge Cat and Molly’s. Mesa is a testament to how a can-do attitude mixed with positive local interaction and downright stellar product can come together to create a music machine that actually values material over marketing.
After all, these are humans—good humans at that—who maintain their small-town aesthetic while confidently sharing the music they love around the globe. So when people wax poetic about the sad shape of the indie label and bemoan how the music industry used to have room for the little guy, this is the remedy.
Denver-based musician/producer David Last attributes much of the success to oddly accepted aspects of electronic music as a whole and the label’s work outside confining genre definitions.
“When it comes to electronic music, a lot of musicians want to err really far in the opposite direction of pop, so there’s this tendency to take it to these very dark and abstract extremes,” he says. “This is considered sort of revolutionary, and so with Mesa, they’re counter-revolutionary in that they’re looking for a certain level of humanity and beauty in their releases, which is accessible but also courageous, and as it applies to underground music, they’re doing something that is not what other labels are getting into.”
Mesa released Last’s most current record, Early, a set of songs specifically designed for the morning after an all-night dance party. According to Last, the record has been charting well with electronic music metric sites. “The sounds on the album kind of layer organic and synthetic to make this mellow music,” Last says. “The idea is to help people wind down when the sun is coming up after 13 hours of dancing.”
It’s actually fairly rare to hear of artists so thoroughly satisfied with their label, but the goodwill expands to non-artists as well. Take Sofie Cruse, who isn’t a musician herself but volunteers for Mesa and Team Everything simply because she loves the music. She grew up in Austin, her father working for the celebrated South by Southwest music fest—she knows music.
“I came to Santa Fe for work and never left because I haven’t been able to pinpoint a better electronic music scene anywhere,” Cruse says. “The things [Mesa Recordings] are doing are such a perfect musical depiction of what it is to live in the high desert, and the way their releases utilize samples and real, actual instrumentation…they’re helping to change the language of electronic music.” Cruse is a bit younger than the men behind the curtain, and even though the 22-year-old describes herself as a “baby” within the scene, she says that even older music fans for whom she has played Mesa releases are immediately drawn to the organic elements and professional sound.
“It’s an interesting combination of old-school electronic concepts and new-school production, and I so believe in them that I’m literally planning my life around what they’re doing.”
If that’s not an amazing endorsement, I don’t know what is, so how do you get involved? Easy—at an upcoming event with Feathericci, Mayhall and Leonard Marion Warren IV. Warren is the star of the night with a style of techno that has been described as stripped-down and masculine. As Feathericci puts it, “It’s nice to get techno-y sometimes, y’know?”
You got that right, buddy.
Mesa at Molly’s w/ Leonard Marion Warren IV,
Feathericci and Brian Mayhall