If you talk to enough people in music, you get used to hearing things about the numbers. The number of fans on social media, the amount of streams, the total number of units sold and on and on. Even if you take into account that you’re generally speaking to someone from the marketing department or with a public relations firm, that’s still lots of focus on the metrics. However when you speak to Tony Presley of Keeled Scales, all he can talk about is the quality of the songwriting. The record label half owned by Presley and half owned by Seth Whaland has covered a lot of ground in a short time while signing some of the best songwriters in the country to their roster. It was these reasons and more as to why we interviewed Presley for our podcast Self Released Songs.
As it should, this tale begins with music. Both Presley and Whaland are touring musicians. Whaland in bands like Tres Oui and Literature and Presley in Real Live Tigers. With both logging plenty of mils across the country, the two coming together to form a label in 2014 seemed like kismet. In a small amount of time the band would release music by The Shivers and begin as a vinyl only label, an ideal that ended after some time.
But the passion that got them both touring across the country was what clued them in for who would make up their roster. Signing bands based on a love of their music that each stumbled upon by catching them live or booking them shows at some point in the past. From the wondrous melodies that make up Twain to the intricate playing of Big Thief’s Buck Meek, the label has continued to grow quickly and vibrantly. What sets the label apart from the norm is not only the immense talent that calls the label home, but how Presley describes each and every release.
Discussing why you love an act on the Keeled Scales label with Presley feels closer to talking music with a friend than someone who’s managing between helping bands grow their careers and releasing their music. It’s refreshing to hear a label owner exclaim on why they find an artist’s sound gorgeous, what about their songwriting stood out to them and what they try to do to help them grow in and industry that’s difficult to gain traction in.
But you realize that Tony Presley is more than a guy who can help your band book a tour, a man who can relay the trials and tribulations of recording or even a guy who co-owns one of the better rosters distributed by Secretly Canadian. At his core he’s a good person who genuinely loves music. An artist who knows how hard perfecting the perfect chorus can be. And a great ally in a space where trust is earned more than it’s given away.
The entire roster by Keeled Scales is impressive and all of it can be streamed on all streaming platforms including on Bandcamp. You can purchase physical copies from Keeled Scales through their web store here as well as merchandise for the label and some of their acts. If you have to fall in love with a label this year, you’re safe to place your trust in Keeled Scales. Self Released Songs is available to stream on this website, and you can stream and subscribe on all podcast streaming platforms. You can also support the podcast at Anchor.fm.
Image Credits: Photo by Madeline Harvey.