Don't like the direction the music industry is headed at present? OK, cool, do something about it. That's basically what Nathan Williams, frontman for the band Wavves, did when he launched his own label, Ghost Ramp, a few months back.
In starting Ghost Ramp, Williams is actually kind of similar to a few other artists you might have heard of: Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and 5 Seconds of Summer. All of those artists decided to cop their own labels, whether it be to release their own music, like Sheeran, or up-and-coming bands, like Katy and 5SOS. In doing so, these guys grab some serious creative control -- even while existing in the major label world.
Williams' Ghost Ramp is an amalgamation. Over the past few months, he's put out the self-titled debut from his new side project Spirit Club, a new single from Courtney Love titled "Miss Narcissist," as well as a new single from his other side project, Sweet Valley, with Juicy J and Soulja Boy called "Big Blue." That's in addition to prepping two new Wavves records for release this summer. Dude has been busy -- which I guess makes sense since he says all he does is make music and play video games (and then make music for video games).
MTV News spoke with Williams about why he decided to branch out into the indie label world, working with Courtney, and what advice he has for all of you out there looking to start doing your own thing.
MTV: So, how did you get hooked up with Courtney Love's new song?
Nathan Williams: I’ve known Courtney for a couple of years. I met her through a mutual friend -- she came to a Wavves show, I don’t know, maybe like three years ago or something like that. We talked afterwards and we stayed in touch and the same friend sent me some stuff that Courtney had -- he didn’t really specify what it was. I didn’t know if it was a demo or if it was stuff that was for a record. So I just got a hold of her and that was about it.
MTV: I was hoping it might be the first single from a new record...
Williams: I mean, you’d have to ask her -- but I think that it potentially is going to be.
MTV: How about Soulja Boy and Juicy J? How did you start working with them?
Williams: It was kind of weird. I met Miami Mike, Soulja Boy’s manager, at a recording studio in Hollywood. We just kind of hit it off. We had this beat and Soulja Boy listened to it a couple of times and was like, 'Yeah I’ll get on that,’ did his verse in 20 minutes and that was it. The Juicy J thing was a little bit different, we never actually met him personally -- he just did his verse. I don’t know exactly how that one happened. Lucky, maybe.
MTV: So when did you start your label?
Williams: My label has been a part of, in some form, the past two or three Wavves releases. I didn’t actually get it up and running until a couple of months ago. The Spirit Club thing is the first physical release that we’ve ever done -- aside from a Wavves/Trash Talk 7-inch maybe two years ago and some very small stuff. But we didn’t get a site set up and a proper store and all that until very recently.
MTV: Why did you decide to start Ghost Ramp?
Williams: It just seemed like the next logical step to not outsource the actual mechanics of making the records. It’s just kind of cutting out the middleman -- it’s a little bit easier this way.
It’s also cool because through this I’ve been able to just interact with fans a lot easier. With Wavves sometimes it’s just like a little bit harder through a label like Warner Brothers, because there’s that space or divide between you and the fans. So with this, I get to see the emails, all these kids sending stuff.
MTV: How have you been interacting with your fans?
Williams: We raffled off one of my first guitars. You know, I just get to do stuff like that. It’s the difference between playing like, you know, a 2,000-seater venue -- which is like great and it feels really good -- and playing Baby's All Right or some of these smaller places. You can taste it in the air -- there’s like something more between you and the consumer and the listener.
MTV: What are you plans for the label?
Williams: We’ve got a lot on the table right now. We’re going to be announcing stuff soon. There’s a Birth Defects record, which is a bunch of guys in LA and San Francisco. That’s gonna come out in June. And Ty Segall produced that.
I mean, we’re still kind of testing things out. I just kind of want to break the mold of what a record label is. I think there’s something more for the community of record buyers that could be done from a label standpoint that really hasn’t. There’s some stuff that we’re looking into right now that’s really exciting. I will say that there’s some stuff in the video game -- the indie video game world.
We’ve been talking a lot more to indie game developers and talking with a lot of people that are making really great indie games right now. It’s going to be really interesting to potentially get into scoring music for that and some other stuff that we’ll probably explain more in depth down the line.
MTV: So what do you think is wrong with the label system as it is?
Williams: I just think it’s a little archaic and kind of boring now at this point. I just think there’s more to be done than just pressing a record, putting it online and somebody buys it.
MTV: What advice would you give someone who wanted to start their own label?
Williams: I think the best advice I could give to anybody that wanted to start their own label or wanted to start their own band or whatever is just -- I mean, it’s kind of, you know, dad advice, but it’s just: If you work hard enough at something you’ll eventually get it.
I mean some things you have to work harder for, obviously, but almost anything can be accomplished if you just apply yourself. And you can look up how to do anything online. Yeah. Literally twice a day, I’m watching a YouTube tutorial on how to do something that I don’t know how to do.