SIGE was conceived as an outlet for projects that my partner Faith Coloccia and I were directly involved with—both musical and visual. SIGE is the name given to the Goddess of Silence: considered the primordial female power of creation, who gives birth to Sophia (wisdom/creation). Out of silence comes the first creative word. Bringing the world into being by speaking your truth. We wanted to have a way to release our own material in whatever way we deemed best, rather than being subject to the parameters of someone else’s record label, publishing imprint, etc. To be able to control the presentation of our work, and to know that we’d always have a home for what we were making were the foundational ideas that made us want to create SIGE. This all eventually lead us to deciding to also release work by friends of ours whose work we were deeply connected to, and with whom we have or will collaborate with—a purposeful connection between music/art, friendship and cooperative creativity.
We were living in Seattle at the time we started the label, running it out of our apartment. Shortly there after we moved to Vashon where we live now, and it’s still being run out of our house. Since the label is focused on small editions and a relatively slow release schedule we can contain it fairly easily as a home business.
The first release we did was the vinyl version of the Mamiffer album Hirror Enniffer in 2009 This was a record Faith had written and I had played on, and it had only been released on CD. We really wanted a vinyl version to exist and the most direct way of making this happen was to do it ourselves. Faith knew what she wanted it to look like and I’d learned a lot about how to put out records through working on my other label Hydra Head Records, so we decided to do it and that was the beginning of SIGE. Faith did the design, we worked together to figure out how we wanted to print/produce it, I handed the manufacturing end of things, and Faith did all the assembly when we had all the parts in hand.
Based on our premise that we’d only release our own projects and those of our close collaborators helped us to keep our roster small. In many instances we were simply doing vinyl or cassette versions of albums we’d made that didn’t yet exist on those formats, and the same for work we chose to release by our friends/collaborators. In some instances though we or others were making albums that had no home what so ever – work we believe needs to be heard/seen—and so we took those sorts of things on as well.
[a video from the Daniel Menche / William Fowler Collins split LP]
Much of what we chose to release through SIGE doesn’t fit neatly into any category or genre. We want to release challenging work that is truly creative—part of why we do SIGE is because there still aren’t that many viable outlets for artists who can’t be easily made to fit within the framework of a specific label aesthetic or scene. We also wanted to make records and books that were well crafted artifacts in and of themselves, not just run of the mill commodity products. Both Faith and I have backgrounds in visual art, and wanted to produce releases that were informed by and reflective of those interests. A record or book that feels/looks good, and is deeply complimentary to its content, makes for a much richer experience for the viewer/listener as well as for us in terms of producing things in this very intentional way.
The first few years of running SIGE have been a process of us learning how to find a balance between our creative idealism and the practical aspects of making it self sustaining. We’ve never intended to make the label our livelihood, but we’ve also striven to keep it from going into debt. Faith and I have always been the driving force behind SIGE and the only consistent workers for it, though we’ve had assembly help from sympathetic friends from time to time. The people we’ve chosen to partner with in releasing their work has been a big part of shaping the label as well—not only its output, but the atmosphere and meaning of it. It is a very personal endeavor for us and thus the work we’ve done with others has been a big part of its definition. We love to make high quality, handmade, beautiful artifacts in small editions, and we’ve struggled at times with figuring out how to do this. It’s been a challenge to figure out how to make our releases affordable, make enough to meet demand, but not make so many that we end up sitting on unsold copies and throwing resources away. It’s also been a good challenge to figure out how to balance friendship and business, because even though we’re a small entity there is still a level of expectation that goes along with releasing other peoples work.
As SIGE continues, we are remaining open to how it might evolve—leaving room for the possibility of change is really important. At the moment we are very excited about all the new releases we have coming up, and the label is doing well enough to sustain itself. I feel lucky and amazed at how much we’ve been able to do. I hope we can do more with making books as we’ve got a lot of ideas on how to expand that area of what we’re doing. SIGE is very much a labor of love for us, so as long as it remains fun for us and satisfying on a creative level we’ll keep doing it. I’m also hoping that it can surprise us in some way—that we’ll end up doing things through SIGE that expand from just releasing records and books into broader/cross-platform directions. One of the most exciting aspects of running SIGE is the connections it brings us with other artists, which more often than not lead to deeper relationships, expanded collaborations and inspiring exchanges of ideas and energy.