Ben Locke, a freshman in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development’s Music Business program, started the record label Invertebrate in 2014. In less than a year, Locke has rounded up a solid group of musicians and has set up shows for them, building an impressive catalogue that ranges from indie rock to electronic artists. Invertebrate will hold a “Fun in the Sun Showcase” at MuchMores on March 5. WSN spoke with Locke to talk about how Invertebrate got its start and his plans for the label’s future.
WSN: Invertebrate Music could be summed up as a DIY effort. What inspired you to start the label and feel confident about running it yourself?
BL: I worked as a talent buyer at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, so I got used to the scene. I came here and was still doing a little booking when I met Noah Davies, the singer of Field Trip. We started talking and I was blown away. You hear about all of these stories where people have these a-ha moments, and I knew that with Noah I had found some really unique sounds. It started as publicity — I would book these shows with well-known artists through my connections and put on Invertebrate artists to support. I would try and come toward it with a theme or aesthetic because I remember all of these themed parties that kids were going to during Welcome Week. I thought of it as an event more than a concert.
WSN: Are there any Invertebrate releases in the near future?
BL: Field Trip are slated to release their new EP in late March. We’re currently working on a press campaign for their latest single, “Song for California.” Another act, Suicide Balloons, who are based at Fordham, are planning to release something in
May/June. Mad Animals are planning a release in April. Aside from that, The Moon and the Sledgehammer, which is my friend Mike who is currently at Emerson College, has their album on Bandcamp now.
WSN: How do you manage a label while being a full-time student?
BL: I send a lot of emails on my phone during class. Luckily, I am in the music business program, so a lot of the stuff I’m learning applies to what I’m doing. I would like to expand. I’m going to start looking for a social media manager and into building a street team because I think word of mouth, especially at a really tight-knit university, is an important means of exposure.
WSN: Are you looking to become affiliated with any new acts?
BL: We only have a roster of three because we have set-in-stone release schedules. Depending on what the returns of the sales are like for those albums, we could expand to a public distributor and get albums in more places in the city. I’m happy with the way things are.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, March 4 print edition. Email Michael Waller at [email protected]