Record Label Spotlight: Matador Records

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Over the last 20 years, HIP Video Promo has enjoyed working with some of the most outstanding and iconic record companies within the music industry. Every Tuesday, we’ll go down memory lane and talk about some of our favorite record labels we’ve worked with in the past. On this Record Label Tuesday, we’re continuing with the awesome Matador Records.

Matador Records is an independent record label founded in 1989 by Chris Lombardi in New York City, NY. They specialize in rock, indie rock, experimental and electronic music. This record label came to life in Chris’s NYC apartment. His first release was Austrian group H.P. Zinker, leading to more bands like Superchunk joining their roster into the 90s. In 1990, former Homestead Records manager Gerard Cosoly entered a partnership with Lombardi. Patrick Amory would join later on and would eventually serve as president.

The year 1990 also brought media attention for the first time with the release of Teenage Fanclub’s A Catholic Education debut album. Three years later, Matador and Atlantic records would enter a partnership that would last many years. In 2002 Beggar’s Group bought out 50% of Matador and turned it international. Matador now operates in two different locations, with one office in New York and another across the pond in London. In 2000, Matador got swept up in the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and their argument on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. Several attempts were made, but Matador was ultimately removed from the RIAA membership list. They celebrated their 21st anniversary in a series of concerts in October of 2010 at the Palms Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Several bands and artists from the Matador roster played and gushed over their time spent with this label. Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo describes his experience as getting into a really cool school and applauds Matador on their love for everyone’s music. Matador still operates as an independent label and continues to leave its mark on the music industry.

Throughout the years, Matador has had its share of amazingly talented artists, and we’ve had the pleasure of being able to work with some of them here at HIP Video Promo. Back in November 2017, HIP Video Promo had the pleasure of promoting Queens Of The Stone Age. QOTSA is an American rock band founded in 1996 in Palm Desert, California. Their version of rock n’ roll is something they’ve created all on their own. Their sound is heavy, which isn’t unexpected but what is, is the clarity of each note. In November 2017, we promoted their video for “The Way You Used To Do”, the first single off their album Villains. This video is a kaleidoscope of different sets and costume changes. The clip starts with frontman Josh Homme walking across the street and teasing the camera about how much we’re going to love this deal he has planned. The scenes jump from all black & white to technicolor and then to complete redness, all while the band continues to play and Josh moves to the beat. This is one video you will not be bored of, and that will leave you wanting more. 

Another Matador artist we’ve gotten to work with is Car Seat Headrest. Car Seat Headrest is an American indie rock band originally from Leesburg, Virginia, and is now located in Seattle, Washington. In January 2018, we promoted their video for “Nervous Young Inhumans”, the leading single off their Twin Fantasy album. This video splits the screen in half: one side in flashing colored lights, and the other side is subtler. The video starts with the screen’s left side flashing in light pink lights while frontman Will Toledo’s dancing feet take center frame on the screen’s right side. In other parts throughout the video, we see the same image but reversed. It’s a high-energy, technicolor video, and it’s perfect for this upbeat track. 

Up next on our Matador artist list is Interpol. Interpol is an American rock band from Manhattan that was formed in 1997. In July of 2018, we got to work with Interpol for the very first time on their “The Rover” music video. At the time Interpol was one of the leading punk revivalists’ groups and had an impressive discography under their belt. Their third album, Our Love To Admire, earned the number 4 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 2007. “The Rover” is a single off of their 6th album, Marauder. The video starts strong as the band piles into a van while ducking away from a crowd of fans. Things take a turn as vocalist Paul Banks opens the car door and tumbles onto the sidewalk. While he goes off on an adventure through the city with a few strangers, the rest of the band are left wondering where he went. The old saying goes, “the show must go on,” and that’s exactly what happens during this wild ride of a music video. 

The next video we promoted for Interpol was in October of 2018 with their video for “If You Really Love Nothing”. This time we’re caught in the middle of an epic short film with a star-studded cast. Kristen Stewart and Finn Wittrock star as a very mysterious and lust-filled couple. The video takes place in an all-red nightclub filled with smoke, gambling, and chaos. Kristen wreaks havoc everywhere she goes, all while Interpol jams out on an elevated platform. 

Most recently, we worked with Kurt Vile. Since 2005 Kurt has been labeled an effortless rock star as he entered the worlds of indie rock, psychedelic, and folk music. Often dissociating from his writing, he has released a total of 7 projects since 2008. In August of 2018, HIP promoted his video for “Loading Zones” off his Bottle It In album. The video takes place in his hometown of Philadelphia, where we see him driving around the city in his red-hot car. We see him parking in No Parking areas throughout the video and watch as the parking tickets pile up. Unbothered by the tickets and the increasingly angry policeman, Kurt keeps going on his way. It’s the sense of cynical humor you can find throughout Kurt’s discography, and it’s what we love the most about his lovely loner.

In their 30 years of business, Matador Records has remained consistent in their pure love for music. They’ve created a place where any independent artist can come and perfect their craft. The artists on their roster are dedicated and committed to this label, and it’s not very hard to see why. We’re grateful for the opportunity to work with them, and we hope to work with them again in the future.

Written by HIP Administrative Assistant Rebecca Karaman.