Underwater music

New Minneapolis-based tape label Subaquatic Records grooms new artists and releases their debuts.

Joe Cristo

High school senior and jazz guitarist Zeke Erickson spent last January composing the music for his friend’s theater production.

The restless 18-year-old artist played drums, keyboards and guitar for the show but still desired another outlet for his creativity. And so Subaquatic Records was born.

Founded by Erickson and David Ziemer, Subaquatic primarily represents lo-fi and electronic artists who are new to the recording industry. The label is meant to shed light on what Erickson believes are underrepresented genres and styles.

“We’re looking to expand about one act a month … all within the realm of lo-fi, psych, tape, electronic music — which I feel like there’s nothing quite in the [Twin Cities] doing that right now,” Erickson said.

Responsibilities are divvied up between the two founders. Erickson deals with recording, production, mastering and artist management, while Ziemer is responsible for album art, music videos, merchandise and promotional work.

The label sprouted from a simple desire to release their friends’ music. Initially, Erickson had the idea of starting an artist collective instead of a label. When he met Ziemer, however, the pair ended up planning the label in secret. Five months later, the debut recordings of their roster popped up on social media.

As of now, their artists are responsible for recording most of their material themselves and sending Erickson their ideas. Then tracks make their way to local music manufacturer Copycats for vinyl pressings, or tapes are copied at Subaquatic’s home studio space.

The current Subaquatic Records roster is comprised of the electronic DJ Nomenclatures, an old-school psych rock group called PTSTD and dream pop project Good Luck Finding Iris. All the groups ambitiously eschew traditional sounds and genres in search of a more futuristic sound.

“Empathy” by Nomenclatures is one of the records recently released by the label. The track incorporates throbbing bass and a breakbeat drum sample. Both sit underneath an icy synthesizer that eventually makes way for a climactic and disjointed dissonance. The song owes more to electronic tastemakers than traditional pop-rock.  

Besides the focus on niche genres, Subaquatic is embracing their position as a physical label in a digital world by creating unique packaging formats.

“We are looking to get more experimental with our releases,” Erickson said. “People are really looking for an experience. For ‘Color Me’ [by Good Luck Finding Iris], the album cover is white and you can color it in with whatever colors you want.”

The primary goal of any label is to help build a platform for artists and audiences to interact. By focusing their attention on interesting physical distribution techniques and new, untapped artists, they hope to attract attention from local radio programming and broadentheir fan base.

Right now, they’ve managed to garner press for a new release.

“[Good Luck Finding] Iris’s video is debuting on the Friday Five of the Current,” said Erickson. “Radio K is also planning on playing some of our stuff, too.”

Subaquatic has the next year of growth already planned, and it starts with their label showcase on May 26 at the Triple Rock Social Club. The bill includes Nomenclatures, PTSTD, Good Luck Finding Iris and features headliners Tony Peachka.


Subaquatic Records Release Show

Where Triple Rock Social Club, 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis

When 8 p.m. Thursday

Cost $5

Ages 18+