Northern Transmissions had the opportunity to ask a couple of questions to musician, record store and label owner Sean Ragon aka ‘Cult Of Youth’. A few subjects we touched on included building your own studio, the new album, and owning your own record store.
NT: You originally started Cult Of Youth as a bedroom project, since then it has grown into a four piece. Are you comfortable with the direction that Coy has gone in?
SR: Absolutely! The band has gone through a lot of changes and fluctuations, but I finally feel as though right now it is the strongest it has ever been. I recorded the last album much in the way that I did the early recordings, and I think it strikes the perfect balance between being spontaneous and being well recorded.
NT: You recently built a brand new studio prior to the recording of your upcoming album ‘Love Will Prevail’, did you actually build it for the record?
SR: Yes! It was the most DIY record ever made hahaha I even had to teach myself carpentry to get it done. In a way, although I have a lot of problems with the cost of living in New York, the constant threat of impending financial ruin can force you to do great things (even if it is only so you can barely keep your head above water). The lack of resources provided for artists in America (and the lack of the most precious resource – time – for people who live in New York and have an expensive monthly overhead) in a way pushes the weak aside. It allows those people who are headstrong enough (or stupid enough) to throw themselves fully into their art to do great things that push them to be a step above the rest.
NT: ‘Love will Prevail’ sounds like an optimistic title, are you hopeful these days about life?
SR: It really varies from day to day. There was a sense of desperation that comes from the title (taken from a line in one of the songs on the record). When I was working on the song that the title came from all kinds of terrifying things started happening to me. A friend of mine had his head bashed in with a lead pipe and then a psychotic woman tried to sue me over the rights to a photograph that was the album cover for her ex-boyfriend’s band (that was being released on my label). The idea was that all the wicked and wretched people in the world will one day get what they deserve and that justice and love will wash them away in one big flood.
NT: On your last album ‘Cult Of Youth’ you worked with Chris Coady, this time you did pretty much everything on your own. Were you happy with the way the album turned out?
SR: First of all Chris is a genius. That being said, I always prefer to work alone. I wrote this record the way that I grew up recording. I started out with just a skeleton of an idea and wrote the rest as I was recording. I think I come out with better ideas that way and there are way more pleasant surprises. Sometimes when you plan everything out beforehand it can sound too sterile.
NT: I’m guessing your younger days had a bit of influence on the recording process, with the album’s DIY approach.
SR: My younger days have an influence on everything that I do. Whether I like it or not, it’s all I know!
NT: Tell me about owning your own record store. How tempting is it not just keeping all the great albums that you come across?
SR: It is every boy’s dream to own a record store with studio in the back ha! Also, in a weird way it has kind of freed me for the materialism of record collecting. I have more of a fluid connection with the records that come through and I like the idea that I can listen to something a few times in the shop and then when someone inevitably buys it I will just have something new to discover and enjoy. I am actually in the process of trying to get my collection smaller, yet more concise. It’s a losing battle since I like way too much music!
NT: You’ve been in the music scene for over fifteen years. These days, many great bands are getting their music out without the help of big labels. What are your thoughts on this?
SR: I think it’s great! One of the thing that separates my store from many of the other shops in New York is that we have a firm commitment to the underground and carrying releases that other stores either can’t or won’t carry.
NT: If you were only allowed to keep five records?
SR: I would jump off a bridge ha!