Record Label: Luaka Bop
Doug Hream Blunt learnt to play music at the age of 35, by taking an evening class in the Golden Gate neighborhood of San Francisco in the late 1980s. The class was organized by a local high school music teacher and his wife, and held in a small home-built studio of their garage. In the years to come, Doug wrote and self-pressed an album called “Gentle Persuasion”. The other students of the class became Doug’s band members, while his teacher joined on vibes and his wife on bass. (Doug learnt to play guitar from the teacher, who actually didn’t know how to play himself - thus letting Doug develop his very own (wild!) style of playing).
Doug then let the album sit in his garage for five years, before he started taking it around to a few shops around SF. For promotion, he would play acoustic, solo shows for patients and elderly people at a hospital where he worked as a nurse’s aid. At a few occasions, he also arranged to play on the City Visions Public Access television show, which, like his record and hospital shows, went pretty much unnoticed. Today, Doug is starting to receive a cult following.
With admirers such as Ariel Pink, Dam-Funk, David Byrne and Jamie Lidell, he has had a direct influence on the art and music of Dean Blunt, who has not only taken his name, but also created work following the steps of Doug - recording music with non-musicians and sidestepping other norms for ‘how things should be done’.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
International tourists and touring artists alike flocked to Fat Beats for rare vinyl, kindred spirits, and exclusive in-store performances from Jay Z, Eminem, Gang Starr, Outkast, Slum Village, Mos Def, and more. One thing was clear: the Fat Beats phenomenon could no longer be contained in a single basement shop.
In the late nineties, Abajian proceeded to open new stores in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He further expanded the company’s profile to include global distribution and record label branches. Distribution has since proven to be the company’s strongest and most enduring enterprise. Today Fat Beats Distribution stands poised as one of the country’s pre-eminent distributors of vinyl & specialty item records: a proud survivor in an industry now famous for its mortality rate. Despite market fluctuations, technology innovations, and stylistic revolutions, Fat Beats has remained steadfast in its commitment to the timeless vinyl format and to the loyal community who keeps it spinning.
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