Color Red Music founder Eddie Roberts estimates that 2,000 musicians from more than 600 bands playing in a variety of genres and disciplines have worked with the Denver-based label since it was established in 2018. The label, which also has outposts in Japan, Israel, Iceland and Europe, doesn’t have a specific “sound,” although Roberts sees the music as sharing a vintage aesthetic, partly because they employ some older techniques and gear to record the music.
“The idea was to give access to a platform where they could release their music and have the ability and the skills that someone on a major label would have,” Roberts says. “You can go the DIY route, but then you don’t really have the infrastructure, you don’t have press, marketing or artwork.”
He adds that Color Red doesn’t “sign” artists like a traditional label, and views it as more of a collaboration between like-minded artists from Colorado and abroad.
“It’s just kind of growing these communities and collaborating with each other,” he says. “It’s all great independent music that should have the exposure it deserves.”
The label is marking its fourth anniversary with a collaborative lineup dubbed Eddie Roberts and Friends on Saturday, September 10, at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom. With Roberts's connections, it wasn’t hard to put together a solid group of musicians to celebrate.
The lineup includes Erica Falls, who has performed as a vocalist for Galactic; Borahm Lee from Break Science; Jason Hann from the String Cheese Incident; Chris Stillwell from Greyboy Allstars; drummer Jeff Franca from Thievery Corporation; and saxophonist Nick Gerlach, to name a few. There will likely be two sets and a DJ, and Roberts expects the show to run late.
“It’s myself and a bunch of my friends,” he says. “A bunch of people who are on the label we worked with a lot, part of the Denver community.”
Mile High Spirits is releasing a limited-edition tequila as part of the festivities. “I think they are going to dye it red for us,” Roberts says. A guitarist for the New Mastersounds, he adds that tequila was always on that band's rider when it toured.
“We try not to these days, but we’ve drank a lot of tequila in our times,” he jokes. “It seemed the most appropriate. It’s the only one that’s good for you, right?”
Roberts has had an eventful couple of years. The New Mastersounds is releasing its seventeenth studio album, The Deplar Effect, on September 16, but copies will be available for sale at the concert. The band has also partnered with Lively to release an album-related non fungible token (NFT). He’s new to that world and curious about whether it’s here to stay or just a passing fad. The only way to learn more, he figures, is to have a go at it.
“I remember overhearing a conversation when I was quite young between two guys talking about the worldwide web,” he recalls. “One said, ‘It’s a lot of nonsense that’ll never catch on.’ And the other says, ‘I think there’s something in it.’ I never like to say something isn’t going to catch on.”
Recording The Deplar Effect became quite a journey, as most of the members of the New Mastersounds hail from England and found themselves unable to return to the United States in 2020 because of the pandemic. The band, which played its last live show to date in Japan in January that year, recorded the album in Iceland. (Roberts isn’t sure when the New Mastersounds will play in the U.S. again, but he's keeping his fingers crossed for 2023.)
“I actually helped build a studio on the north coast of Iceland last year, bizarrely,” he says. “I can’t get the guys into the U.S., so let’s all meet in Iceland and make an album.”
The band spent ten days recording at the newly built Floki Studios and is launching an imprint called Eleven Music with Crested Butte-based experiential travel company Eleven Experience. The band lived at the studio, so it was an immersive recording experience, so much so that they named the album after the property on which the studio sits.
“It’s a strange place,” Roberts says of Iceland. “It’s pretty bleak up there on the north coast. It was literally on the seawall, nothing between you and the North Pole, but the studio is beautiful. … There was quite an effect, staying there completely isolated, surrounded by snowcapped mountains.”
He says the isolation and the mood it conveyed is captured on the album. The bandmates could see the Northern Lights as they played.
“It’s hard to put my finger on it,” Roberts says, “but when I listen to that album, it just transports me right back there, that kind of solitude. There’s a mood to it. We could have played the same tracks in Denver or the U.K., and it would have sounded different, for better or worse.”
It had been about two years since the band had played together, so there was a moment of trepidation when they found themselves in the studio once more. But "as soon as we played the first notes, it was like, ‘Oh, there we go again,’” Roberts recalls. “We got the band back together, so it was really special.”
Eddie Roberts and Friends, 7 p.m. Saturday, September 10, Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, 2637 Welton Street. Tickets are $20. For more music, visit color-red.com.
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