Artist of the day: Pocket
Richard Jankovich has achieved that most mythical of rock-star statuses: He‚Äôs big in Japan.
Cue the Pulse to Begin, a song Jankovich recorded with his band The Burnside Project, was the theme to Showtime‚Äôs Queer as Folk. But it also became a Top 40 hit in the far east.
‚ÄúProbably the only real rock-star experience I‚Äôve had was in Japan,‚Äù Jankovich laughed. ‚ÄúWe literally got picked up in a limo from the airport ‚Äî not even like a Lincoln Town Car, a full-on limousine. The moment we got off the plane, we knew it was going to be a different experience.‚Äù
He‚Äôs in the middle of another new experience. Jankovich ‚Äî an indie DJ/producer who, under the name Pocket, has remixed artists like Beck, Radiohead and Cat Power ‚Äî is the newest signee to Tampa record label 24 Hour Service Station, the home of artists like Geri X., the Beauvilles and Win Win Winter.
Pocket isn‚Äôt a household name stateside. But attracting an artist with any sort of national profile was a coup for the small Tampa outfit.
The label will oversee Pocket‚Äôs current project, a series of electronic-pop singles released every six weeks or so, featuring guests vocalists like Robyn Hitchcock, Belly‚Äôs Tanya Donnelly and Dag Nasty‚Äôs Dave Smalley. It‚Äôs an unconventional approach to creating and releasing new music; hence the unconventional partnership between Pocket and 24 Hour Service Station. The singles are released on Pocket's Web site; click here to listen to his latest, Hear in Noiseville with the Church's Steve Kilbey.
‚ÄúI was completely blown away that other labels hadn‚Äôt jumped on this,‚Äù said 24 Hour Service Station head Marshall Dickson. ‚ÄúWe looked at it and said, here‚Äôs something we can do. ... We can take these names and put them out there, and shake the trees and make people pay attention to the overall project.‚Äù
Jankovich and Dickson hooked up through a few shared St. Petersburg connections. The Burnside Project was formed in New York by Jankovich and Gerald Hammill, a former St. Pete resident. Through Hammill, Jankovic met Gabriel Freedman, a.k.a. Dub Gabriel, a longtime scene member (and former bassist for Magadog) who had also moved to New York. And Freedman was a friend of Dickson‚Äôs.
Meanwhile, here in Florida, Dickson, who founded 24 Hour Service Station in 1994, was busy with a hefty project: A New Order tribute album called Ceremony. His label was recruiting artists from around the globe to contribute tracks. Freedman suggested Pocket. And when Dickson and Jankovich connected, Dickson was impressed with Pocket‚Äôs singles project.
Jankovich‚Äôs label connections had passed on the idea. ‚ÄúWhen I sent them the recordings,‚Äù he said, ‚Äúthey all said the same thing: 'Wow, this is great, we‚Äôd love to put it out ‚Äî but we don‚Äôt know how to market this kind of release, because there‚Äôs no band to tour behind it.‚Äô‚Äù That wasn‚Äôt an option, due to the project‚Äôs many guest vocalists. So Jankovich was prepared to release the songs himself.
When Dickson said he wanted to help Jankovich promote the singles and possibly lump them into an album, a partnership was born. ‚ÄúMarshall was just the most excited person out of anyone I talked to,‚Äù Jankovich said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs not the most established label in the world. But he‚Äôs really excited by it. And that‚Äôs really important to me, to have somebody on my team who I don‚Äôt need to convince.‚Äù
At the moment, there are no plans for Pocket to perform live in Tampa Bay, or even in New York or L.A., where Jankovich recently moved. In fact, Jankovich and Dickson haven‚Äôt even met face to face ‚Äî all their business has taken place by phone and e-mail.
Just another odd facet of the global music business in 2009.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*