Husband and wife team Katie Garcia and Dustin Payseur (of the band Beach Fossils) founded independent label Bayonet Records in 2015 after cutting their teeth at fellow Brooklyn imprint Captured Tracks.
In just two years’ time Bayonet has made a name for itself releasing records from the likes of up-and-comers Frankie Cosmos, Warehouse, Lionlimb and Payseur’s own band, Beach Fossils, who are set to drop their third studio album, Somersault, on June 2 via the label.
Garcia and Payseur spoke with TIDAL about how they decided to start a label and what they look for when signing new acts. Plus they put together a handy playlist of essential Bayonet Records tracks.
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How did you get into the music business and what motivated you?
Dustin: Just by being signed to Captured Tracks, by being around there all the time — it was a very open community with the label. I was always in the office. I didn’t know anything about how record labels were run at all. Early on, Mike [Sniper] was showing me stuff. He took me under his wing in a way. But the thing for me is not thinking of it as a music industry or a music business; I feel like those words have certain connotations that really turn me off from the whole thing.
Katie: I started interning at Captured Tracks a couple of months after I had moved to New York. I was in the middle of kind of reexamining my life as an early twentysomething and figuring out what it is that I wanted to do. One of the things that dawned on me is that I really like music, I really like going to shows and that I should probably work in the field doing something that I love. So I started reaching out to a couple of labels and asking if they needed interns. Captured Tracks happened to be around the corner from my house and they happened to need interns. So I started interning for them and then a couple of months later became the label manager and did that for almost four years.
Dustin had always talked to me about wanting to start his own label, so when it became time for that to happen, we talked about doing it together. I knew the ins and outs of actually running a business and running a record label.
So what do you thinking Dustin’s being in a band brings to the label?
Dustin: We’re really artist-friendly.
Katie: Yeah, I feel like he has a really unique perspective having been on both sides, so a lot of times we’ll be talking to a band about something and Dustin will be like, “Oh, well in the past, when this has happened to me…” and he can cite certain examples of certain experiences that he’s had as an artist. And in general, like Dustin said, we’re really artist-friendly. That’s definitely up there for us.
Aside from Captured Tracks, what other labels served as inspiration for you?
Dustin: All kinds of independent labels. I was always really inspired by Stones Throw and early Rough Trade. Just the way they were run. It just felt like more of a close-knit community or artist collective rather than this faceless, anonymous brand. It wasn’t even about a brand. It was just about getting people together and making shit happen.
What would you say Bayonet stands for as a label?
Katie: I was actually just talking about this recently, how one of our goals for the label was to have it be ever-evolving and not necessarily stick to one sound. Our aesthetic should be constantly evolving. We wanted that to be our identity—our identity of evolution.
Dustin: Not an identity in terms of genre or style or anything, it’s just about authenticity. Being genuine.
What would you say your biggest achievement has been as a label?
Dustin: I would say everything, honestly. For me, non-related to Bayonet, when I first started making music, one of my biggest goals ever was: “I just want to be able to put a 7-inch out. I can die happy.” When I signed to Captured Tracks I put a 7-inch out and it was just the greatest feeling. And then everything I’ve done with Beach Fossil has had the same kind of feeling.
I feel like I’ve carried that same feeling onto Bayonet. Every single time we do something, every release we put out, it’s that same really exciting feeling where all this hard work has paid off. Everybody has put so much effort into everything and there’s just this feeling that’s unmatched anywhere else.
What do you guys look for when you’re signing an artist?
Katie: I think we look for really good songwriters and people who are maybe adding a sound of their own to a genre that maybe already exists. Songwriters that are unique.
Dustin: That’s the hardest challenge with running the label, finding somebody who doesn’t sound like anybody else. Finding artists that have their own unique voice and their own unique style. It’s rare to find something like that. But when you do, there’s nothing more exciting… Being able to find someone and being able to share their art with the world, that’s great.