Rainbow Blonde – Spotify for artists

One of the beauties of a DIY project is that, no matter what, artists are always in charge. But what if you could create a complete label around that level of autonomy – and add to a broader support system that helps everyone involved make every aspect of the law a reality?

That’s the idea behind Brooklyn and Los Angeles. ” Rainbow Blonde. In 2018 chamber-pop singer-songwriter Talia Bilig (also known as Clap), Border-pushing R&B and jazz singer Jose James, And producer / engineer Brian Bender, the label is just as collaborative and creatively free. The artist always calls for shots, but all employees are given due credit and respect for their contributions, from conception to release. It comes from the founders ’background and desire to create music for the music.


Billig and James met at Legendary Blue Note Records in early 2010, where James was an artist signed by producer / executive Don Wass (who worked with everyone). Rolling stones Per Bob Dylan Per Stone Temple Pilot), When Bilig worked for President Bruce Lundval. With the establishment of Bilig, the two became committed to advancing the artistic community Orchard Sessions, A “video salon” series where musicians performed in his New York City apartment. Many conversations between the two over the ages on how to best support tasks without suppressing originality have led to the idea of ​​creating their own outfits.

“It took me a long time to realize the power of starting your own label,” James says. “It feels like a huge jump – until you do it. From my first contract, I was making my own work, I was A&Ring, I was the art director. At one point, Talia, Bender and I were just like that. , ‘We’ve done everything the label has done, so what if we do it?’

So, they finally jumped when James got full ownership of his 2008 debut, Dreamer, Which again became the first release of Rainbow Blonde. Over the next two years, he and Tali worked on their own project and expanded the list of labels, bringing together an eclectic producer duo. Bright and guilty And Grammy-winning jazz players Ben Williams. Most known for his work with the guitarist Pat Metheni, Williams his release I am a human being LP through Rainbow Blonde in February 2020.

Bright and guilty, artwork by David Deweerdt

Bright and guilty, artwork by David Deweerdt

Meanwhile, James also came up with two projects this year: single,When they see usInitially a powerful piece for the 2019 Netflix series of the same name and her latest album of the same name, No start no end 2.

“I released my ninth album, the first time I was able to release it [one] On my own label, “he says.” Being able to blank carte in art direction, production, writing, marketing planning, and attending every meeting as an artist is absolutely invaluable. ”

This workload, however, is not always an attraction for other tasks, as having the ability to call all shots means taking on more responsibility for each aspect of a project. “It may not be for everyone,” Bilig said. “We’re not the kind of label heads who would tell an artist what their album cover should look like. We associate them with our favorite graphic designers and let them create them together. Rainbow Blond is for artists where they have a very clear idea of ​​where they are going and what they are looking for.

Photo by Jose James, Janet Beckman

Photo by Jose James, Janet Beckman


Rainbow Blonde is much more than just three founders. To support their roster, they have created a network of interior designers, photographers, producers and visionary minds around the world who are not just colleagues, collaborators.

“Every part of the industry is everyone’s art,” says Billig. “On every label, people have an incredibly talented workforce that makes it so you can get the art. I’ve always felt that the labels were behind as an artist worthy of speaking.”

To that end, Rainbow Blonde’s website includes a list, “collective”, consisting of helping hands that do all this. This includes photographers Janet Beckman, Filmmaker Maddie Dutch, Business Manager Christine Lee, And many talented Elena Flores placeholder image, Who is credited only as a “man”.

“In these contemporary times, a label can be such a voice,” James says. “We’re in a different place, where the engineer is celebrated just like the artist.”

Not slow

After the Covid-1 pandemic epidemic hit the United States in March, many labels rushed to delay or stop the album’s release, Rainbow Blond, instead of seeing it as a disappointing moment, the founders saw it as an opportunity to prove themselves.

“At the moment, it’s just about the industry,” says Billig, who left him Were you busy writing your heart out?? EP in May. “There is no place for crafts. It’s not about shows or costumes. At the moment, the cream is rising to the top because of what you can play sitting down and what you can bring to the table. There is an unprecedented opportunity in the hands of individual artists when there is less word and artwork.

Photo by Talia Bilig, Carston Tennis

Photo by Talia Bilig, Carston Tennis

Now, there’s a busy summer in front of the label. Throughout July, they will share a series of material releases. In August, they are releasing remixes of previous Rainbow Blond records, remade by artists in their community. The same month, Rainbow Blond will release the tenth anniversary edition of James Black magic, Where the album has four new live tracks in addition to the existing bits Flying lotus, Taylor McFarlane, And Moodyman.

It’s a huge schedule in such an unpredictable year, but the final task of Rainbow Blonde is to wait. For the group, it’s not about guessing what the future holds by looking at a vision – it’s about making music happen in the present.

“I’ll tell young artists, ‘Now’s the time,'” says James. “Don’t worry about the end result – just think about slapping it so hard that your voice is heard.” Whether it’s Spotify, TickTock, Instagram, people will hear it and they will respond.

– Robin Bessier

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