As we enter the year 2004 -- into a seemingly post-everything culture -- one question seems more difficult than ever to answer: What constitutes original music these days? Nearly 40 years after the Beatles broke with the pop ranks in lieu of more ambitious projects, you'd think it'd be nearly impossible to do something really "different" with music. But with the vast majority of contemporary bands still clinging to the tried-and-true pop formula (regardless of the actual sound), it's actually quite easy to create your own niche. Just ask Scott Marino of Whiteroom Records. He's been dabbling in electronic music and home recording for the past decade, scrupulously developing his own brand of songwriting.
"The songs are still songs," Marino explains. "I still always work in a chorus, verse, or melody that keeps going throughout, but I just like to avoid staying so close to the verse/chorus/verse repetition. It's something that's listenable but still really creative, not just goofy sounding."
Operating out of a custom-built studio in the back of his Lake Worth home, Marino divides his time between writing, recording, and promoting his music; the studio doubles as the Whiteroom Records office as well. And right now, promotion is a big part of Marino's day, as he has just released a compilation of his various projects, which span the past nine years.
Like any resourceful artist today, Marino does most of his promotion on the Internet, using peer-to-peer programs such as Kazaa and SoulSeek, as well as GarageBand.com, a network of artists who review one another's music to help get the word out. The good part about Internet promotion, Marino says, is the immediate worldwide audience -- an audience of one's choosing. "I find that people in Amsterdam like my music more than Americans," he notes. "A lot of people in the electronic-music category love the song I have up there. But I like to see what people into other types of music have to say as well."
Though it's hard to find an exact musical comparison (thus is the nature of experimental music), Marino cites electronic bands like Magnetic Fields, Aphex Twin, and the Postal Service as being closest to his sound.
Aside from promotion, Whiteroom Records offers musical production and engineering, live sound, and print/web design and advertising mailers. Just check out the 42-song jukebox Marino made for theHoneycomb.com -- a local underground music resource site -- streaming songs from Death Cab for Cutie, +/-, Curisau, and Johnny Cash, among others. Marino also has his own jukebox on the Whiteroom Records website.
While not looking to officially "sign" anyone to his label, Marino wants to work with artists and help get them onto bigger labels. Also, Marino notes that he's seeking mostly electronic music; rock bands need not apply.
"It would be nice to find more experimental bands to work with," he says. "I'd like to get a network together of people doing really original stuff."