Paul Tao is General Manager at IAMSOUND Records, founded in 2006 by video director Niki Roberton. Home to artists such as Florence & the Machine, MEN, Salem, Fool’s Gold, Telepathe, NewVillager, and more (they have a kick-ass store you can buy their music at), IAMSOUND is a label that knows how to find and develop artists from the ground up. Paul’s role seems to encompass a wide variety of tasks, probably not including the brilliant Tumblr meme he started, whoisarcadefire. Without further ado….
Cedar: What do your responsibilities at Iamsound include as general manager? What are the parts of your job that people wouldn’t expect you to do?
Paul: Well, IAMSOUND is a pretty small company, so my responsibilities include pretty much everything you could possibly think of when it comes to what a record label does. Coordinating with PR, our distributor, manufacturing, keeping bands happy, trying to get TV & radio appearances, emailing a million bloggers, etc. As for what people wouldn’t expect me to do, we have a dog in the office, so does walking the dog count?
Cedar: What has it been like to see a lot of amazing artists on your roster grow, develop, and reach wider audiences?
Paul: It’s been an amazing experience, seeing the places where some of our bands are now as opposed to when we first signed them. I guess the most obvious example would be Florence + The Machine, who we released singles with and an EP with at the very beginning of her career before anyone else signed her, and now she’s performing at the Grammys and the Oscars. But beyond just wide mainstream appeal, there are also artists such as Salem or Fool’s Gold, who, when we first started working with them, had their core cult fanbases, but not too much beyond that. Now when I attend one of their shows, I see hundreds of people who know the words or stand there enraptured by the music. It just makes me feel really proud to be a part of creating that.
Cedar: You DJ, too, right? How often do you DJ and do you have any preference for location or genre when you spin?
Paul: Yep. I DJ kind of sporadically, as most of my DJing (well, sometimes it’s me solo, sometimes it’s with Niki IAMSOUND as a duo) is just at friend’s events, club nights or events that I’m involved in. One of my roommates and I have started a new party at Little Temple on the east-side called The Hump which is all KDAY-style hip-hop and R&B. Third Wednesday of every month!
Cedar: Not sure if you’re trying to conceal your identity or not, but what inspired the creation of whoisarcadefire.tumblr.com? Do you have a favorite post from it? What did you think of Arcade Fire’s reaction to it?
Cedar: I was originally trying to conceal my identity, because I felt like having it be anonymous would be even funnier. I did it the night of the Grammys after I saw that Arcade Fire won, when I saw a couple of people I knew on Facebook asking who Arcade Fire was. It kind of shocked me that they didn’t know, and then I saw a post on BrooklynVegan with other similar tweets, so I thought it’d be funny to compile them all in one blog. I just started searching on Facebook and Twitter for reactions and put them up that night, asked a couple friends to tweet about it (I didn’t want to do it myself), and I woke up the next morning, and it was all over the place. Very unexpected but pretty cool. My favorite post is probably the one asking, “Who are the suburbs?” As for Arcade Fire’s reaction, I’d like to think they found it amusing as well, since they accepted their Brit Award by saying “Google Us.” They haven’t contacted me to take it down, so I guess they like it! Can’t hurt a band’s sales and reputation to have a meme based around not knowing who you are, I suppose.