BARF: How long has Royal Oakie been in existence for?
ROYAL OAKIE: My partner Yasamine June and I started the label in 2012 when we were still living in Santa Cruz. Things really took off in 2014 when we moved to Oakland.
BARF: What inspired you to start your own independent label?
RO: A genuine desire to contribute to the world culturally and to support the art of making music.
BARF: What’s the label’s most recent release?
RO: The eponymous solo debut from Zeb Zaitz of Sparrows Gate. Zeb is an old friend from the Central Coast and we have loved his music for years. It was an honor and privilege to put out this beautiful album on cassette. My favorite new release of the year.
BARF: Contrary to not so popular belief, the Bay Area’s music scene is alive and well; currently, who’s your favorite local artist/band?
BARF: What’s the most prized record you own?
RO: That’s a tough one. For me it’s less about the novelty of records as a rare artifact and more about music that deeply moves me. All of our releases rank pretty high on my list of most prized possessions; My mother’s copy of “Music from Big Pink” and “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” rank pretty high on the list and are two albums albums that have come to be huge influences on my work; battered indie and punk CD’s from my youth that I’ve held onto; Big Star "#1 Record", The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”, Television “Marquee Moon”, Gabor Szabo “Spellbinder” and “The Sorcerer”, Elliott Smith “Either/Or” and “XO”, The Appleseed Cast “Low Level Owl”, John Coltrane “Giant Steps”, Alice Coltrane “Journey in Sachatananda”, Sun Kil Moon “Ghosts of the Great Highway”--these are all records that have influenced my life greatly and mean a lot to me.
BARF: What are some other labels you admire (and why?)
RO: Blue Note, during the classic mid-century run, probably the coolest record label of all time. Amazing musicians collaborating on incredible albums, great artwork and graphic design, and an art forward approach.
Impulse Records for the beautifully transcendent jazz, worldly vibes, and awesome design.
Light in the Attic for being the best reissue label ever, digging up and reissuing lost treasure so that more people can enjoy, and doing it all so tastefully.
BARF: Anything else that you’d like to share (music or non-music related!)?
RO: If you love art and music, please support your favorite artists and musicians. Go to their shows, buy their records. There is so much incredible art being made right now, but in many ways it’s never been tougher for an artist to survive. Don’t take beautiful art for granted. Cherish and support art!