Saturday 19 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Zounds! What sounds!

Zounds! What sounds!

Cultural progressives band together to form Zanzibar! Records, a label working to push the Norman music scene into the national spotlight.

Charles Martin March 23rd, 2011

Zanzibar! Presents: Zebre and FRMR
10 p.m. Wednesday
The Deli, 309 White, Norman, 321-7048

On a brisk March night during the tail end of downtown Norman’s art walk, founding members of Zanzibar! Records huddled outside a storefront, discussing the difficulty of starting a record label in the digital age, all while splitting a 12-pack of Blue Moon and giving directions to manic, roaming Flaming Lips fans in search of $200 that Wayne Coyne supposedly stashed somewhere on Main Street.

It’s just another night in a college town that has music fans buzzing with excitement about the vital cultural undercurrent slowly transforming Norman into a progressive hub of American indie rock. Zanzibar! Records recently stepped to the forefront by rallying an army of veteran scenesters, hoping that a little structure might help propel their beloved town into the national spotlight.

To glimpse the fruit of Zanzibar!’s efforts, check out the label’s monthly showcase tonight at The Deli, featuring Zebre and FRMR. “Growing up in Norman, I’ve always seen a certain level of hopelessness among the artists, knowing we aren’t in New York or L.A.,” said label president Ben Lindesmith. “But when you are around a group that supports one another and what they are doing, that hopelessness disappears.”

Named after Lindesmith’s recording studio and founded last November, Zanzibar! sports a swelling stable of 15 state acts, and will have its own stage at April’s Norman Music Festival.

To support that amount of bands, Kara Joy McKee, vice president of promotions, said roughly 40 people are called upon regularly to help with projects, extending from video production to distribution.

“We make some of the highestquality products in the state,” she said.

“No,” Lindesmith said. “We make the highest-quality products in the state.”

“Well, right,” McKee said. “They are very bad-ass.”

Chase Spivey, vice president of production, added organizations like Zanzibar! are important because they create breeding grounds for ideas that can have lasting effects on culture, while giving musicians ample opportunity to do what they do best.

“Artists are very industrious and like to be busy all the time,” Spivey said. “That is what is so enthralling about this label. We get new artists who have traumatic things going on in their life, and this is an avenue that they can put their efforts into.”

Lindesmith hopes to build Zanzibar! into a significant online media producer as a way to promote talent and generate enough income to sustain the label in the absence of album sales, which used to be the industry’s lifeblood. Whether or not it’s viable in the long run is irrelevant to him, compared to the viability of Norman’s music scene.

“A lot of people within Zanzibar! are talking about how this will be a major music hub. It is inevitable,” he said. “It doesn’t even matter if our record label is involved. It will still happen, and we just want to do what we can to move that along.”

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