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Eric Salazar of Emptyhead
By Sounni de Fontenay
(more articles from this author)
1999-02-25
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Eric Salazar is the man behind Emptyhead his solo musical alias. Emptyhead produces music under a broad umbrella of electronica influences, ranging from industrial to ambient and synth-pop. To promote and expand his music, Eric formed his own label called, Palace Records. Under the indie label, two EPs have been released, Petinence and Voluptuous, with an album due out later this year. This Denver, Colorado native spoke with us online to give us the scoop on his career and how he uses the Web to advance it.

[Sounni de Fontenay] Eric, tell me about your personal experience in the music industry?

[Eric Salazar] As an outsider. Before pursuing the Internet as a means to promote my music, I had very little contact with persons in the biz, so to speak. I've basically been a guy in his home studio recording the songs he wrote. I was too shy to perform live, but I knew that I loved to write songs and record them. I tried the demo thing for a while, wasting much postage on sending Maxell cassettes to people who didn't give a damn in the end. Finally I said fuck it and decided to make my own record label - armed with a Power Macintosh, a CD burner and an Epson color printer, I went about the business of designing and recording my own CDs in a "professional" fashion. But, the fact remained I didn't play live much. So, the CDs I consigned at the local shops would, of course, collect dust. I couldn't afford any other means of promotion - the best idea I could come up with was to set up a web site. At the time that I hit upon the idea, I was working a graveyard shift at a call center, providing technical support for cable modems. There was a computer for every support agent and every computer had full access to the internet - it was easy enough to download trial versions of all the software I needed and design my web site. I even got the web hosting through the company I was working for free of charge!

[Sounni] What music do you specialize in?

[Eric] Synthesizers and made sounds play a large role in the music I produce. But, I like to combine a lot of different elements in hopes of making stuff that's eclectic and surprising. So far, I've written songs with influences like techno, industrial, new age and progressive rock.

[Sounni] Tell me about your band, Emptyhead? The music, the members...?

[Eric] Emptyhead is me. Basically my solo music project. I've collaborated with a couple of other artists - Trygve Schneider, Graham B. - under my banner and it's something I hope to do regularly.

[Sounni] Have you released any CDs?

[Eric] Two CD EPs, Voluptuous and Penitence and a full length album at the end of this month.

[Sounni] Palace Records started out as a platform for Emptyhead. Has the label expanded since?

[Eric] I'm just now going about the business of releasing other artists under Palace. I'm working closely with New Vision Recordings, a new record label in the UK, on a series of compilation CDs and 12" vinyl singles featuring artists from both labels...what's funny is, I'm the only artist featured from my own label. I just haven't hooked up with any serious minded musicians willing to produce work under my label.

[Sounni] Are you looking for artists? If so, what kind?

[Eric] Yes, I'd like to find other artists willing to work with me under the Palace label. My dream is to build the foundation for a successful record label dedicated to electronica.

[Sounni] What are some of the difficulties running an indie label? Advantages?

[Eric] At the point my label's at? Too new to be taken seriously...Another difficulty being lack of capital, but I'm slowly finding there are many places to get money for these sort of things. I'd have to say the most difficult aspect of running my label is doing both the duties of creating the music and doing all the other things a label is supposed to do. Advantages? Complete and utter control over what I do.

[Sounni] What is your marketing method for the band and label?

[Eric] Web site...Internet...uploading free music to every MP3 hosting site. Email spamming. Beyond the usual internet hook-ups, I send CDs to magazines for reviews and very soon here I will be concentrating on getting records into the hands of DJs for club spins and such. I'd love to do the whole radio promotion thing, but it's a very discouraging prospect for a lot of work.

[Sounni] Internet is a big part of your strategy. How has it worked?

[Eric] The Internet has been fabulous to me. The connections I've made on-line are most valuable and the fact that a lot of people will host and put your music out for free is just awesome. I want to see the internet grow into unlimited bandwidth and extinguish popular radio and broadcast television. I get pissed thinking how the broadcast mediums are just an oligarchy dictating the tastes of it's viewers. The whole system is mindless, shutting out ideas and rolling out whatever music or programming they think is selling this year. There's something very wrong about the power these large broadcast corporations have. Why do they get the power to broadcast their message(s) so widely? Any individual should have the same power and freedom. The Internet is the first place where the broadcast medium is shared and the playing field is leveled. This is good...this is how things should be.

[Sounni] What are your expansion plans for the Web?

[Eric] I plan to develop an on-line record shop dedicated to electronica. I'll also be setting up a web site for Palace Records as more artists begin to work with me.

[Sounni] Who does your web design?

[Eric] I do.

[Sounni] What is the Denver scene like? Is it open to electronica music?

[Eric] There's nothing very fancy about the scene in Denver. As far as its openness to electronica goes, I haven't seen any major developments.

[Sounni] What do you see as the current and future status of electronica music?

[Eric] Electronic music has been with us for a long time (all recorded music goes through some electronic process along the way, anyway). Since the 1800s, people have been pursuing means of creating sound synthetically as opposed to acoustically. Now seems to be an exciting time in the long history of synthetic music - technological advances are pushing sound sculpting to new levels and we are able to manipulate the sonic pallette in ways never thought of before. Digital mastering systems allow unprecedented control over the final form music takes. As for where things are going with electronica? I don't know, but I hope to put in my two cents worth.


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