Say you've just completed your first film and now you need the perfect score to accompany it. Asthmatic Kitty has music for that. You've put together an important business presentation and want a catchy beat to keep your audience interested. Asthmatic Kitty has music for that. It's Christmas and you've compiled pictures and videos into a film to debut at the family dinner. Asthmatic Kitty has music for that. It's a cool summer evening and you are wandering around aimlessly, lost in thought. Asthmatic Kitty has music for that, too.
July 7, Asthmatic Kitty, a national music label indie folk singer Sufjan Stevens began with his stepfather, launched the Library Catalog Music Series, a collection of instrumental albums listeners are encouraged to commercially put to use. "It was originally Sufjan's idea to create a space on the label to release instrumental music and to work with musicians we wouldn't necessarily have worked with previously," says Indianapolis resident Michael Kaufmann, who does artist and repertoire as well as development work for the label. "It was also a space to release music with much less fanfare. Not that we don't think this music is important, but we wanted to create a streamlined process for releasing this type of music. The artwork is similar, there are no press photos and only short bios. It was also a tongue-in-cheek tribute/parody of library stock music for production houses. The music is almost devoid of ego and feels anonymous. This is very counter to cult of personality in music. The fact that this music is instrumental only intensifies this anonymity."
The series will be released in installments with the first batch comprised of three albums featuring James McAlister, Stevens' drummer, performing under the name 900X, and Casey Foubert, Stevens' bassist, who performs as Law of the Least Effort. Both musicians recorded a solo effort then came together to collaborate on a third album. "So the first three are a tad more on the nepotistic side of things, and there are more of this type in the works," Kaufmann says. "But there are also a few records slotted by folks we haven't directly worked with before. We will be releasing a record by Bloomington-based electronic musician Actuel."
The first albums offer an eclectic set of styles. 900x's Music for Lubbock, 1980 sounds like a hybrid of synth-driven '80s sci-fi and cop drama scores. Law of the Least Effort's takes a more classic rock approach on Music for Measurements, creating guitar-driven rock with a smoky blues beat or a country twang sometimes mixed in. Music for Drums, a collaboration between McAlister and Foubert, features percussion-driven tracks that jump from Go! Team-style energy to menacing industrial growls to military marching beats.
But the Library Catalog Music Series is not just about listening to the music. Kaufmann hopes people will use it commercially as well, taking the mimicry of catalog music full circle. "We definitely want to see this music get used in commercials, television shows, movies, family home movies, instructional videos, yoga DVDs, you name it!" he says. "Sometimes we aren't sure if we are joking or not, but we are very serious about this. We have mailed these releases to many music supervisors, art directors at ad agencies, movie producers, etc. If someone would like to license the music then they can either contact the label or a company called Mix-tape that helps us with this process."
But while the project was assembled with commercial possibilities in mind, Kaufmann encourages Asthmatic Kitty fans to use the music in their own not-for-profit creations.
The lineup for the second wave of albums is still being determined, but Kaufmann says it will include an offering from Asthmatic Kitty label owner Lowell Brams collaborating with his stepson, Stevens, and Bryce Dessner of the National and Clogs. So if your musical needs aren't met with the first collection from the Library Catalog Music Series, don't worry. You might find the perfect music for your project the second time around.