„I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables. I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars” James Murphy sings on the song Losing My Edge. The words of the classic debut single of his band LCD Soundsystem are not just a winking romantic meditation about music. They also can be detected as a manifest to the elementary principles of DFA Records, the label that Murphy established in New York City together with Jonathan Galkin and Tim Goldsworthy, former UNKLE producer and co-founder of Mo' Wax records. When you take a look at the label's catalogue you will find all sorts of music – from disco to house, ambient, techno, and Indie rock. DFA artists like The Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, Yacht, Prinzhorn Dance School, or Shit Robot spread this multidimensional approach of running a record company with many different musical styles, too. To accompany our current Carhartt WIP Radio DFA Records show, that has been mixed by Prinzhorn Dance School’s Suzi Horn, we sent some questions to DFA Records co-founder, co-owner, and A & R manager Jonathan Galkin in order to take a look behind the scenes of one of New York’s finest record companies
Hi Jonathan, could you please share a bit of your history with us. How did you get involved with DFA Records?
Jonathan Galkin: I got involved with DFA when I met James at a bar through a mutual friend of mine from college. He had just made House of Jealous Lovers around that time and no one had heard it. He played it for me that night.
What is your musical background?
Jonathan Gaskin: My dad played drums and I learned from him when I was five. I liked musical theater and Billy Joel. And then at the same time discovered R.E.M. and Echo & The Bunnymen through my older brother in like 1983. I was a very conflicted child. I liked good tunes but also sullen men in pea coats apparently.
What do you do for DFA on a day-to-day basis?
Jonathan Galkin: Everything that my colleague Kris doesn’t do, I do. I don’t know. Everything. Sometimes nothing. A lot of A&R and direct artist relations, planning, and paying for shit. “P&P” Planning and paying.
Can you describe a bit of what your "office" looks like and what an "average" day at the office might be?
Jonathan Galkin: Our office is pretty tidy. Kris and I keep a neat home, but there is a lot of vinyl catalog and merch all stocked out because the online store is pretty active. So it feels sort of like the back room of a retail shop. We also have one wall of glass that overlooks a courtyard and is very open sky. We can also see into people’s apartments. One time a dead squirrel got caught on a fire escape across the way and hung there for a year. No one noticed it because the apartment was under renovation and no one seemed to be doing much.
Is there an office pet?
Jonathan Galkin: We had talked about getting a cat. But I am terribly allergic to bad ideas.
What do you find most challenging about the work you do?
Jonathan Galkin: The math-y parts.
Any role models, inspirations, or benchmarks for DFA when it was launched and now?
Jonathan Galkin: I always said (to myself mostly) that I wanted our catalog to be the equivalent of Arthur Russell’s career - where there is disco and new wave and classical and avant-garde and pop etc. And it all comes from this central voice and maybe we could be that voice. Does that make sense? I hope not.
Is there a philosophy behind the name DFA?
Jonathan Galkin: Nope.
What was DFA’s biggest hit so far?
Jonathan Galkin: The first single we ever put out unfortunately.
Are you cautious about being put into a box and do you see yourself as part of any scene?
Jonathan Galkin: I am past being cautious about boxes. We do what we want anyway. I don’t think about that. The only box I worry about being put in is failed label.
DFA Records has a massive artists roster - how do you keep so many bands on your books at once?
Jonathan Galkin: Super easy: we don’t keep books.
On what future projects are you and is the label working on now?
What do you want to accomplish with music in general?
Jonathan Galkin: Immortality. And rent money. In that order.
Can you give some advice to someone who is interested in starting his or her own label?
Jonathan Galkin: Nope.
What was the last track that sent shivers up your spine?
Jonathan Galkin: A new track entitled Reload by Dan Bodan.
What are three albums that you'll absolutely never get tired of listening to?
And how do you think your generation has left its mark on music culture?
Jonathan Galkin: With USB flash drive DJ’s!