While it’s fair to say 2020 has crashed and burned, using optimism and motivation as fuel for the fire, Phoebe Bridgers fans have had a slight cushion to break their fall. Bridgers, whose anthem Motion Sickness is her most famous, is a Los Angeles native with a proficiency in nostalgic songwriting and poignant, beaty riffs. On June 18th the musician released her second album Punisher, receiving glowing reviews from music institutions Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. Her lead single off the album, Garden Song, dropped in late February, quietly accompanying the impending sense of dread the world was experiencing right around that time. When the album came in June, with our collective levels of dread reaching breaking point and our degrees of hopefulness plummeting, we Bridgers fans welcomed it with almost desperately welcoming arms. It became a soundtrack to quarantine, the earworm Kyoto was a daily hum of happiness in lockdown. The final song on the album, I Know The End, finishes off her collection with choruses of cries climaxing in ‘The end is near’ with an explosive orchestra and screams engulfing them. It perfectly reflects what we were all feeling. To be punished by anything other than the effects of coronavirus is an improvement, and if Phoebe Bridgers is the Punisher, then it’s truly a privilege.
Despite the remarkable album and the surprising nugget Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America Bridgers gifted us on the 1975’s album Notes on a Conditional Form in April, the most exciting product of Bridgers’ brain this year has been the launch of her new label, Saddest Factory. Teaming up with Dead Oceans record label - an independent label that has signed the likes of Mitski, Slowdive, Khruangbin, and Bridgers herself – she announced via her Instagram (@_fake_nudes_) on October 5th that she was setting up a record label with fair and reasonable prerogatives. The vision for the label, she says, is “simple: good songs, regardless of genre”. As CEO of Saddest Factory, Bridgers says she will utilize her skills as creative as well as an analytic to create an original brand for the label. So far, bedroom indie-pop musician Claud is the only act signed to the label, releasing ‘Gold’ as their first single with Saddest Factory. Claud (they/them) has toured with acts like The Neighbourhood and Girlpool, and is currently based in Brooklyn, producing music with a warm, upbeat sound. They share a similar air to Bridgers, with their upbeat sound and melancholic lyrics (see: ‘If I Were You’ by Claud).
Bridgers admitted earlier this month to the excitement she feels over the marketing aspect of being a CEO at a record company. She’s already proving to be pretty innovative: the website for Saddest Factory is more of an immersive experience than it is an information database. Bridgers’ humour comes through every aspect of the website: there’s a sidebar viewing the ‘texts’ she’s sending to her employees, and you as audience are the employee in question. Saddest Factory are also accepting demo submissions through their website (terms and conditions include “By submitting, I agree to share my demo with the entire Saddest Factory workspace and understand that the intern will very likely forget to give it to Phoebe.”).
As the entertainment industry comes to an impasse in terms of the mistreatment of minorities in the business, it’s a hopeful progression to see a queer woman challenge the monopoly cis white men have on the music industry. Dead Oceans, the co-creators of Saddest Factory, was founded by five men in 2007, their vision for the label “pushes forth a modern re-imagining of the supposed indie-rock canon – an expansion and re-definition of what the “indie” genre even is, and what it can be.” The torch is passed once again to the next generation of music-makers – a more equal and diverse generation.
Phoebe is your boss now.