In 2015, the music industry shifted its traditional global release day from Tuesday to Friday after studies suggested -- surprise! -- listeners were most interested in buying new music around or right after pay day. The move was originally met with chagrin, especially by independent music labels that feared further major label dominance as a result -- but for better or for worse, Friday has now become the industry standard for dropping new music.
As such, one of San Diego's most widely recognized and acclaimed labels, the Redwoods, has adopted a summer campaign that unleashes one brand-new studio track from its rostered artists (such as Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact, Birdy Bardot, the Midnight Pine, and Dani Bell & the Tarantist) on that very day every week.
For the unfamiliar, the local collective is modeled after labels like the legendary Stax Records in the '60s-'70s, boasting several different groups led by amazing frontwomen (with the exception of Jake Najor & the Moment of Truth) -- all backed largely by the same group of musicians, or house band of sorts. Their semi-regular concerts, always billed as a "Redwoods Revue," feature performances by the label's acts exclusively and serve as blockbuster nights here in town.
An impressive feat to undertake for weeks on end, the Redwoods Summer Singles Project has transformed Fridays in San Diego into somewhat of a frenzied local-music showcase -- without the daunting weight of accompanying full-length efforts. In an age of nonexistent attention spans, this particular approach might just be the only way to move the needle.
"[The] grand idea was to challenge ourselves to step outside of the album format for a minute and release our work in a different way," Matt Molarius, Redwoods musician and producer, told SoundDiego in a recent interview. "Since we are a small group of people operating across several projects, we found that it was taking a long time in-between album releases working solely in the LP format. I wanted all the bands to be equally active and to be able to get more of our work out into the world. We had some unreleased songs from previous sessions that we wanted to share and some new work we had been in the studio with.
"I thought that if we were to put it on a frequent release schedule and get to work, we just might be able to pull it off," he continued. "I considered this years ago but just recently had the opportunity to organize it in our release schedule to make sense. [It's] not really a group idea per se but the whole Redwoods team is really pulling together to make it all happen and it’s translating in the sound. S--- is sounding tight right now."
Set to wrap up on Sept. 20, the series officially kicked off on May 24 with "Come With Me" by Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact -- a funk/soul group that has largely spurred on the months-long endeavor with a new album set to release near the end of its run. In fact, the project's latest single, today's "Worth My Wait," arrives courtesy of the outfit.
"Part of the series is a handful of songs off of the forthcoming Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact record called 'Running Out of Time,'" Molarius explained. "This record has been in the works for a good while and Rebecca is a total standout when it comes to her dedication to the craft and her skill, and in this record it shows. Al Howard wrote the words and she delivers them with all the conviction. Heavy topics that touch on many of the things that inspire us to feel and fight and it’s not lost on her or the music. It captures the mood and is mean as s--- and funky as hell. Comes out on vinyl September 13th." [Pre-order it via Fatbeats here]
Even after all the singles drop, the collective has even more in the works, including a surprising art/music effort.
"[The next album to be released this fall is] a collaboration between the Redwoods and an artist outside of our little collective called Elle Olsun. It was an experiment and I feel like it's one of the most special records I’ve ever been a part of. All of them are special but this was a little different in the sense that we didn’t know where it was going to land but it hit exactly the right spot. It’s an art piece and a tribute to someone special. It also has an art component to it. We collaborated with a watercolor artist to interpret each song in a piece of artwork and it came out so beautiful and true, I am beyond excited to share it and hopefully be able to shine a little light on the story and connection of it all."
Currently in the midst of celebrating five years as the Redwoods, it seems like yesterday that a bunch of amazing local musicians and friends came together to launch a label unlike anything San Diego had ever seen (or heard).
"It’s crazy. I didn’t expect it to sneak up like that!" Molarius said. "Honestly, I’m super proud it’s been together for five years. When you consider all the things that come with being in a collective group working toward a common goal, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important and get caught in the minutia of what it takes to sustain a project, be consistently productive and also remain relevant within the scene you are a part of and the music industry in general. It’s a s---load of time and commitment.
"I have to give it up to all the members for continuing to be so generous with their time and talent and dedication to the collective effort. All for the creation of something we all believe in. Something that we built together, something that matters."
Visit the Redwoods online at their website and follow 'em on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Heads up: Our next free SoundDiego LIVE party has booked our very own Redwoods Revue with Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact, the Midnight Pine and Birdy Bardot at 710 Beach Club on Sept. 27; get on the guest list now.
Dustin Lothspeich is SoundDiego's senior associate editor, a San Diego Music Award-winning musician, talent buyer at The Merrow and lead gearhead at Gear & Loathing in San Diego. Follow his updates on Twitter or contact him directly.