On Pins and Needles

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Posted November 30, 2007 in Music

“This is the time of the independent label and the independent artist,” says Voodoo Nation Records A&R representative Tim Ballard. And after talking with Ballard at length—he himself is also a hip-hop artist on the label known as Penuckle—you’re pretty convinced that his Highland-based independent label crew is definitely onto something.

That’s because Voodoo Nation, founded by CEO Raymond “White Owl” Galvan (a.k.a. “Shorty”) nearly a decade ago, has a clear vision for its success—something that even many majors can’t touch in the present era of plummeting sales: Sign artists that are already kicking some ass.

Galvan launched the label to help promote his own musical interests (which presently include his hip-hop solo project White Owl and hard rock outfit Dog Faced Gods), but as time went by, he re-focused his efforts to work with artists who are primed to head into the realm of national distribution and decent promotion.

“We want artists that have already invested in themselves and have a mastered product, that kind of thing,” says Ballard. “This is not new artist development. We want people who are ready to go to the next level. They’ve gotta show that they’re really serious.”

And serious is what Voodoo Nation is becoming, with Dog Faced Gods landing major tours opening for Tech N9ne, a crew of eight employees, and an office on the San Manuel reservation (Galvan belongs to the Serrano tribe) that features a recording studio dedicated to producing the label’s latest wares.

Ballard credits Galvan’s upbringing for the tight-knit operation through the lessons he learned from his elders. “Because of this, even with major label budgeting, [Galvan] runs his label like a mom and pop business,” says Ballard, “which allows us to focus on our artists and their needs specifically and individually. We look at artists of all genres. Our goal is to be the premiere label based out of the Inland Empire and be the next major indie label.”

With a varied roster that also includes new rock signing End of Days, Voodoo Nation’s current roster is exclusively comprised of Inland Empire artists.

 “There’s an atmosphere that’s missing from the Inland Empire that’s always been in Hollywood,” says Ballard. “We want to bring that element out here as far as the music that we have, and as far as the parties that we do, we want to definitely have a homegrown attitude. There’s a lot of good talent out here, but we’re always overshadowed. For years, the Inland Empire has always struggled to have its own identity. People has always viewed us as slow, but we’re here to say that there’s a spark to us too, and we have the ammunition this time to prove it.”

For more info, check out the label’s website, www.voodoonationrecordsinc.com


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