Label Biography & Historical Reflection
In 2004, at the age of 21, I moved to Toledo, OH to take a sales & marketing position at a punk, metal, hardcore, and indie music distributor called Lumberjack Distribution. I knew no one outside of the workplace, having never visited Toledo prior to the interview, had no friends in the area, and generally had no idea what I was getting into emotionally. The job was fine, easy for me, actually. I was familiar with (lived for) the music we sold and had been working music retail 4 years prior at a local Wisconsin record store chain called The Exclusive Company, where I held the position of independent music buyer. So I was well-versed in the music. The difficult part was in that I had never lived alone, never lived in a place without friends and family nearby. I had never gone to college, where most people experience that uneasy feeling of isolation and mystery. So this was a whole new world for me, 400+ miles from everything I knew.
Regardless, this was one of the best decisions I’ve made in life, although it was difficult to deal with at the time.
Shortly after moving to Toledo my long-term (and suddenly long-distance) relationship fell apart, and the feeling of isolation became more difficult to cope with, despite making a number of friends locally. I decided I needed something creative to occupy my time and to pour my energy into. Many of my new co-workers ran DIY labels of their own, something I had always been interested in. So, naturally, I began to ask questions, and the urge to start my own label grew wildly. Between the experience of my co-workers and that of the exclusively distributed labels with whom I was building relationships, I had a wealth of knowledge to draw upon and decided to jump in head first. In 2005 my band planned to do a split release with some of our friends. I decided there would be no better reason to start a record label, and that would be the first official Gilead Media release. That was the beginning, I had the bite. I was addicted.
For the few years following that first split CD release Gilead Media went through a wild period releasing records by bands from across the spectrum of music. I founded the label under the flag of “Innovative Sound Exploration & Development,” with a vow to release music that I found groundbreaking & interesting, regardless of genre. This was an aesthetic I enjoyed, and it kept the job of running a D.I.Y. label a very interesting one. Unfortunately, as I grew to realize, this also prevented solid label growth for a long period of time. By releasing records from a variety of seemingly unrelated genres I was holding people back from really becoming fans of Gilead Media overall, as a label. Fans would be apprehensive about picking up a record they may dig because there were only select pieces of my catalog that appealed to them. This was a situation I felt was totally unfair to the bands I was working with and stunted progress for the label.
In 2009 I chose to change the model, to focus primarily on releasing darker & heavier records. This was a hard decision for me, as I never wanted to restrict the type of music I would release. But I soon realized it was clearly the right choice for the life of the label and the exposure of the bands I am lucky enough to work with. I always regret turning down a great record simply because of the genre, but I believe it’s what I have to do in order to keep the trust of those that buy my releases, and keep the support of those that ultimately keep the label alive. Eventually I began to curate a selection of distributed titles released by my contemporaries and friends, or albums I simply loved and want to try and turn other people on to. This allowed me the variety I craved in my work, and helped satiate that urge to be involved with more non-metal records.
That is how the label continues to operate to this day. My tastes continue to change, and are heavily influenced by the art my friends create. So expect the type of heavy music I desire to release, and the selection of albums I distribute, to change with those tastes. It frequently feels like this label is a thing I am not in complete control of, and it’s all I can do to keep it from just imploding on itself. Or that it keeps me from imploding on myself.
Ultimately, Gilead Media is not a day job, despite the long hours I put in to it. It’s a big stressful hobby that breaks even, most of the time. I do not take paychecks from the label, I reinvest every minuscule bit of profit that comes in and pay my buddy Dale for packing mail order and my buddy Scott for printing t-shirts. This isn’t a labor of love. This is a labor of necessity. Thank you for you support, past and future. Thank you for keeping this going.
I don’t do much direct wholesale these days, but my buddies over at Thrill Jockey handle that stuff for me. They’re awesome, so get at them if you want to pick up a bunch of Gilead stuff for your store:
Erik Keldsen – Erik@thrillhjockey.com // 312-492-9634
If you want to propose a trade, hit me up using the contact form on my site. I’m not into trading everything, but it can’t hurt to check.
INFO REGARDING DEMO SUBMISSIONS
I used to request that those interested in working with me send physical products to check out. But they just pile up as I have less and less free time to listen to physical records. For this reason I request that you simply send a link via email to stream or download audio files from dropbox, bandcamp, soundclound, etc. Do not email audio files to me directly unless I ask you to. These emails are deleted without consideration. If you’d still like to mail me some records, that’s cool. Mail them to: Gilead Media, PO Box 19, Oshkosh, WI 54903 USA. I’ll tell you right now. I’m not concerned with bands you’ve shared the stage with, or how great your new unrecorded material is. I’m going to judge you by what I’m hearing right now, and how hard you will commit to promoting a record. I’ve released 2 of my 55+ releases as a result of unsolicited email submissions. I rarely work with a band with whom I have no prior knowledge or no mutual acquaintance. My release schedule is also booked roughly a year in advance. So that must be understood before sending any submissions. I listen to everything, but don’t have time to respond to all inquiries. If I’m into what you’re doing, I’ll be in touch.