Dead Oceans

Making Waves

Phil Waldorf
Phil Waldorf (Photo by Mary Sledd)

In the past year, the tides have shifted considerably for Phil Waldorf. After nearly a decade managing Misra Records, Waldorf jumped ship to form Dead Oceans. The local imprint is the newest branch of Bloomington, Ind., cottage industry Secretly Canadian/Jagjaguwar, a hotbed for indie rock with an impeccable national reputation and a collective roster that includes locals Okkervil River and I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness, along with Antony & the Johnsons, Black Mountain, and Jens Lekman.

"There was this really great moment when I could wipe the slate clean and had the chance for reinvention," says Waldorf, a former booker at Emo's. "It was a natural extension of the relationship I already had with Secretly Canadian as the distributor for Misra. It allows me to focus on what I'm good at, which is taking a project and making the most out of it."

The ripple effect is paying royal dividends thus far, following the pressing of nonlocal projects such as The Broken String by Brooklyn pop maestros Bishop Allen, Dirty Projectors' Black Flag-inspired opus, Rise Above, and Phosphorescent's aphotic folk musings, Pride, due Tuesday. Also in the pipeline for Dead Oceans are releases from psych-rockers Citay, Misra holdover Evangelicals, and recent label additions the Explorers Club and Iran.

"I think of myself first and foremost as a music fan and as a consumer," Waldorf concludes. "Hopefully the label is reflective of that kind of mentality. It doesn't focus on one particular sound but still has a coherent vision. We're off to a good start, but it'll be really great when there's a larger body of work to look at."

Established: 2007
Kingpin: Phil Waldorf
Number of Releases: three
Notable Releases: Dirty Projectors, Rise Above; Bishop Allen, The Broken String
New & Upcoming: Phosphorescent, Pride; Iran, The Same Song Over and Over
Average Print Run: 4,000-10,000 CDs; 500-1,000 LPs
Distribution: Secretly Canadian
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