We like to imagine before clipping. agreed to a deal with Sub Pop they added a stipulation in the contract that once they finalized their John Hancocks on the dotted lines, Sub Pop founder Jonathan Poneman had to give a loud and hearty, “it's clipping., bitch!”
It's still happening. You can break all the rules with your music, combine noise with rap in a manner far more ear-pummeling than Death Grips, and sign with one of the most progressive indie labels in music. You can have a “name your price” record placed on a streaming platform, hire a friend in the band Foot Village to do PR, and Sub-freakin-Pop will invite you to the headquarters in Seattle. Obviously, it takes far more than these attributes to gain the attention of the guy who signed Nirvana, but on the surface that's the story of clipping. turning a self-released album into a Sub Pop deal in under five months.
Released in February, their debut midcity has garnered significant attention, but I don't think anyone anticipated clipping. joining the likes of THEESatisfaction and Shabazz Palaces on Sub Pop, although now that it happened – duh. We tossed correspondence back and forth with Jonathan Snipes, Daveed Diggs, and William Hutson to learn more about being courted by Sub Pop and why they signed on to the indie that invented grunge.
clipping.'s midcity debut is streaming at its Bandcamp. Their sophomore record/Sub Pop debut is slated for 2014.
How did the Sub Pop signing come together? What individuals played roles in getting on their radar?
Jonathan Snipes: As far as I know, Garrett Kelly, who works in IT (I believe) at Sub Pop, played midcity for Tony Kiewel, who does A&R there. He sent us a really nice email telling us how much he liked the record. We kept in touch, he came to a show of ours in LA, and eventually he asked if we'd want to work together.
William Hutson: Yeah. Tony dropped us an email a couple weeks after our project came out telling us he dug it. He also asked us if we wanted him to send us any records on Sub Pop. It took a lot of restraint not to immediately write back: “We’ll each take first edition Bleach LPs — the ones on white vinyl, with the posters. Thanks!” We really didn’t think anything would come of it, though. But when we went to Seattle to play a show, Tony invited us to hang out at the offices and then a bunch of Sub Pop people came to our show that night. Even Jonathan Poneman, the label’s founder, came out to see us play, which really blew us away. I mean, that’s the dude that signed Nirvana.
That's pretty rad that an IT guy was able to pitch to an A&R. Says a lot about the company. Did you know Garrett before this? Or did he reach out to you before taking it to Tony?
JS: Garrett knows our friend Brian from Foot Village, who's been doing our PR. None of us had met him before – Tony was the first person from Sub Pop to write us.
WH: Garrett is in this band called WaM