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Artist of the day: Pocket

30

July

Pocket2

Richard Jankovich has achieved that most mythical of rock-star statuses: He’s big in Japan.

Cue the Pulse to Begin, a song Jankovich recorded with his band The Burnside Project, was the theme to Showtime’s Queer as Folk. But it also became a Top 40 hit in the far east.

“Probably the only real rock-star experience I’ve had was in Japan,” Jankovich laughed. “We literally got picked up in a limo from the airport — 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.”

He’s in the middle of another new experience. Jankovich — an indie DJ/producer who, under the name Pocket, has remixed artists like Beck, Radiohead and Cat Power — 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’t 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’s current project, a series of electronic-pop singles released every six weeks or so, featuring guests vocalists like Robyn Hitchcock, Belly’s Tanya Donnelly and Dag Nasty’s Dave Smalley. It’s 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.

“I was completely blown away that other labels hadn’t jumped on this,” said 24 Hour Service Station head Marshall Dickson. “We looked at it and said, here’s 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.”

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’s.

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’s singles project.

Jankovich’s label connections had passed on the idea. “When I sent them the recordings,” he said, “they all said the same thing: 'Wow, this is great, we’d love to put it out — but we don’t know how to market this kind of release, because there’s no band to tour behind it.’” That wasn’t an option, due to the project’s 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. “Marshall was just the most excited person out of anyone I talked to,” Jankovich said. “He’s not the most established label in the world. But he’s really excited by it. And that’s really important to me, to have somebody on my team who I don’t need to convince.”

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’t even met face to face — 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*

[Last modified: Thursday, July 30, 2009 7:00am]

    

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