August has been quite the lesson in record labels. We’ve talked to an array of women from some of the best and most prominent labels out there who do everything from directing licensing to publicity to a myriad of co-owners including today’s Women in Music feature focus, Heidi Greenwood of Paper Garden Records where she’s been co-owning and creative directing for the past several years. Growing up a music fan, she noted how she never thought loving music that much would take her from Australia shows to her career in Brooklyn today – but alas it has and now more from Paper Garden’s Heidi…
Kendra: Did you start out wanting to work for a label, or music for that matter?
Heidi Greenwood: In a way, yes! As a teenager my friends and I were the kind of music fans that wrote zines, had our parents drive us to any all ages shows we could find and read every music magazine published. I always loved music but I never thought being a fan could lead to a career in the music industry.
I ended up going to art school and worked in the skateboarding Industry until I moved to Canada in my 20’s. I traveled to New York City as much as I could and ended up living here for three months, exhibiting work and getting to know the City. One wine fueled night on a fire escape in Brooklyn, my roommates and I (who were also artists that I had met in Vancouver) were lamenting over the hardships of the art world and posed the question all 20-somethings ask themselves at some point…“If I could do anything, what would I do?”
As you can probably guess, I remembered by teenage love of bands and shows and collecting records and proclaimed by wish to the universe for a lucrative career in the music industry…the irony was never lost on me. It was the very next day, through a series of very random events, that I got my break into the Industry and met my future business partner and Husbro.
Kendra: Based out in Brooklyn, how has that surrounding shaped you musically?
Heidi: I’m originally from Australia and have been living in Brooklyn for eight years, however Brooklyn has always been special to me. People often ask why I moved to Brooklyn and I have spent a lot of time thinking of a specific reason. The only one I know for sure is Sesame Street. The early 80’s Sesame Street had a huge effect on me, so many great life lessons and music – the seed was planted pretty early on.
We just wrapped up a free concert series in Downtown Brooklyn (our second year of the series) and these events are such a great reminder of the incredible diversity in New York City. Almost every show ended in a dance off between people of all ages, genders and races. Music is such an integral part of this city and it is really inspiring and uplifting to see people enjoying it.
Kendra: What about Paper Garden’s artists and work ethic are you most proud of at the end of the day?
Heidi: We really try to create a family vibe as much as possible and try to creatively problem solve to get around the constantly changing landscape of music consumption and creation, rather than be rigid in our ways. There’s also a very conscious effort to take the “industry” out of the music as much as possible by working with the artists but letting them maintain creative control.
Kendra: You guys hold a lot of events and even got a radio show going on. Are those the types of things you think make Paper Garden stand out when stacked up against other labels?
Heidi: Definitely. The events and radio are really an example of the labels grit – we’re not a trust fund label and never have been. Creating alternate sources of revenue to fund our projects is something we are very proud of and excited to keep building on. People may not be buying music as much as they used to, but people still love going to shows!
Kendra: Personally, why do you think indie labels have emerged as some of the best out there in the past decade or so?
Heidi: I think it’s the labels who can bend with the trends and don’t have a rigid structure creatively and financially, that end up coming out on top. Artists also have a lot more opportunity to be creative under an indie umbrella.
Kendra: When it comes to the artists who become a part of your family, what is the number one thing you guys look for before signing?
Heidi: The music!
Kendra: Can you let us know what’s coming up from Paper Garden this year?
Heidi: We have a few new releases up our sleeve along with a couple of new event series that we’re very excited about, including new cities! Stay tuned!
Kendra: Also, not to pressure you like a job interview but in ten years time, where do you hope to be with your career?
Heidi: I’m not sure where I would like to see myself, but I would love to see more women in the Industry, getting the recognition and pay checks they deserve and to see more money in the hands of the artists.
Kendra: Who doesn’t love a party? With that, if you were going to throw a party set in a picturesque garden – what five songs would have to be on it?
Heidi: Ohhhhhhh ok! Hard to stop at five though!
Syd Barrett – “Love Song”
Rolling Stones – “She’s Like A Rainbow”
Shonen Knife – “Top Of The World”
Bjork – It’s “Oh So Quiet”
Johnny Cash – “Wildwood Flower”