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From a Distance, Indie Label Father/Daughter Records Achieves Ten Years of Business

Ken Hector and Jessi Frick in 1996.EXPAND
Ken Hector and Jessi Frick in 1996.
Photo courtesy of Jessi Frick

"She thinks of the artists as family," Ken Hector says proudly of his daughter, Jessi Frick.

Hector is referring to the artists signed to the aptly named Father/Daughter Records, an indie label the pair co-founded. Frick oversees the day-to-day business, Hector does the bookkeeping — all while living 3,300 miles apart.

"I think the label started when I was born, essentially," Frick tells New Times.

That familial bond birthed a widely lauded record label that has been in business for ten years and is quickly approaching its 100th release from a diverse roster that includes Diet Cig, Pure Bathing Culture, Remember Sports, and Christelle Bofale.

Though Frick is based in San Francisco these days, the foundation of what would become Father/Daughter was built in Miami.

"My favorite record shop growing up was Blue Note Records," Frick says.

The North Miami record store used to reside in a strip mall off NE 163rd Street and 15th Avenue (now home to a nail salon). After doing business for 23 years in Miami, followed by a short stint in a Broward locale, these days Blue Note owner Bob Perry sells records to private collectors by appointment only from a Broward warehouse.

In its heyday, Perry's store carried an enviable variety of jazz, blues, gospel, Latin, hip-hop, and punk recordings. That eclecticism stuck with Frick, who compares her label to the store, claiming both "have no genre."

"There was one guy that sold records in the punk/alternative room, and I swear I've learned more about music growing up from that guy than from anyone else," Frick says, relating one of many Blue Note memories.

Frick's musical mind-expansion wasn't limited to Blue Note, however. While attending high school at MAST Academy, she met her longtime best friend Amy Fleisher Madden, founder of now-defunct label Fiddler Records (Dashboard Confessional, New Found Glory, Juliette and the Licks). Both explored Miami's music scene, with Madden booking shows at Cheers, a now-shuttered gay club in Coconut Grove.

After graduating from MAST, Frick moved to New York, then dropped out of college to give a shot at managing bands. She made her way to Los Angeles and worked for five years as a marketing and PR executive at Fiddler Records with Madden. Now she lives in San Francisco.

"Working in the independent music space, I always thought it would be cool to have your own label," Frick says. "I asked my dad, 'Would you want to do this together?' He said yes, and the name was very easy to come up with after that."

Frick still visits Miami often to spend time with her family, reconnect with friends, and flip through bins at local shops Sweat Records and Technique Records.

"I'm very friendly with the folk at Sweat Records," Frick says, adding that Sweat and Father/Daughter have plans to collaborate at some point — one of many projects COVID-19 has put off.

While the pandemic has kneecapped the music industry, canceling concerts and music festivals and halting album promotions, Frick prefers to look on the brighter side.

Jessi FrickEXPAND
Jessi Frick
Photo by David Frick

"Artist's tours have been postponed, and some vinyl manufacturing plants are backed up, but we're not changing our release schedule," she says.

Frick says the indie label hasn't seen a dip in sales and the business continues to function normally. She works from home in a space dedicated to the label, so she didn't need to escape to an office under San Francisco's strict stay-at-home orders.

Still, the label faces a challenge in marketing releases, artists, and merch roll-outs in a world that is now mostly virtual. Since lockdown, Frick has launched a new IGTV series, Father/Daughter Hangs, in which label artists casually chat with their fellow labelmates.

Given the uncertainty of how long the "new normal" will last, Frick is considering other avenues that directly produce revenue for her artists, such as online ticketed events. Although many of Father/Daughter's acts are using the time at home to work on new music, a number have been furloughed from day jobs.

"You have to look for some sort of area where you can make revenue for the bands," Hector says. "Frankly, what the music business comes to, the money is usually generated from live shows, whether you're a big artist like Lady Gaga who's basically doing a $40 or $50 million tour or a band who's playing $500 a night and selling merch."

What draws many musicians, bands, press, and collaborators to Father/Daughter is that, unlike most modern record labels, the label chooses to give its artists full creative control — over music, track listing, artwork, press photos, and more. The label primarily signs one-album deals to start, removing the pressure for the artist to sign on indefinitely and for the label to test the waters before committing to more.

Frick says most artists stay.

"Our label is inherently based on family, so we tend to have really close relationships with our artists," she says.

To find that familial feeling, the label searches for bands and musicians who know who they are and understand how they want to be represented. Still, it all comes down to the music. Frick says she'll take in artists if the music is good, even if the foundation is lacking or the artists aren't yet on social media, for example.

Recent releases from the label include Sir Babygirl's glittery pop track "Cheerleader," Esther Rose's country twangs in "Only Loving You," Remember Sports' driving pop-punk in "Tiny Planets," and Christelle Bofale's haunting guitar and vocals in "Miles."

Now employing three staff members besides Frick and Hector, Father/Daughter Records has cultivated and incubated an impressively diverse roster in its first ten years in business.

"Most businesses don't even make it to five years," Hector points out.

Looking forward to the next ten years of Father/Daughter, the pair hopes the label continues growing and the industry hears more of what they're all about.

"We're not the new kids on the block any more," Frick declares. 

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