An Interview with Gordon Anderson of Real Gone Music

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Today, I’ve got the co-founder of Real Gone Music in the house. Gordon Anderson is an industry veteran who has worn just about every hat one can wear, and is someone who operates with true integrity within the increasingly murky waters of the music industry. While most labels are all about the money and don’t care about their product, Gordon and the team at Real Gone Music take the road less traveled and put quality first. I, for one, am glad for that, as the results are a label filled with wonderful, truly legitimate music for all of us to enjoy. If you’d like to learn more about Real Gone Music and/or grab some of their fantastic releases on vinyl and CD, you can head over their website here. That’s it for me, for now. Cheers.

Andrew:
Gordon, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. Tell us about your back story. How did you get into records?

Gordon:
Blame it on my 4th grade teacher, Ms. Crenshaw, who brought James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” into the classroom. That was pretty much my first exposure to Pop music because my parents were Classical purists (joke’s on them, huh?). I’ve been pretty much hooked ever since. Then I had a ‘60s Rock radio show in college, which was the first time I approached Pop music as something to present and package

Andrew:
You got your start in 1993 with Collectors Choice Music, right? Tell us more about that.

Gordon:
My first job out of college was in New York working for a publisher called Crown. Fatefully enough, they had a music mail-order catalog devoted to reissues (Publishers Central Bureau) and an in-house reissue label (Murray Hill). After a year working in the book division, Crown thankfully moved me to the music side. Eventually, Crown shut down the catalog and sold the mailing list to Playboy (yup, that Playboy). I heard Playboy was thinking of starting a music catalog and applied. The catalog took off right away, those consumers were hungry (and had no internet to feed them back then). The customers also started suggesting reissues, so we started a reissue label

Andrew:
You started Real Gone Music with Gabby Castellana. Tell us more how Real Gone Music got started? What was the inspiration?

Gordon:
Collectors’ Choice Music had just been sold to another company (sensing a theme here?). I could tell they weren’t going to let us continue the label, and I had had enough of perusing mail-order catalog page proofs. Gabby was running our music and video distribution arm, and he was ready to get out of that business, too. So we resolved to start our own company, building on the relationships we had cultivated over our 40 years-plus of experience in the music biz.

Andrew:
Real Gone Music is dedicated to publishing overlooked and out of print titles, which I think is really great. Why did you decide to make that your focus?

Gordon:
These days more than ever, it’s important to offer folks something unique. The world is too small to just offer a retread of something that’s already come out here or overseas. Besides, we have always encouraged our customers to offer us suggestions, so Real Gone Music is something of the product of the music nerd hive mind, which spans all eras and genres and has lots of interesting nooks and crannies.

Andrew:
You guys have committed to a release schedule of about ten titles per month. That’s pretty aggressive, and ambitious. What lead to that decision? Will you be able to maintain that torrid pace during COVID-19?

Gordon:
We have been maintaining that pace (he says exhaustedly). My family is sick of hearing me play my test pressings over and over! Our business model has always called for lots of releases. It’s a lower-risk strategy than placing on all your bets on a few titles, and it fits our genre-agnostic approach. And you build up a back catalog real fast. Besides, it’s fun! I am discovering things just like our customers are.

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Andrew:
You guys really brought the heat for RSD last year. The Spacehog Resident Alien release, and the Nativity in Black release are both very cool. Tell us more about these two RSD releases
.

Gordon:
I have to credit one of our staff members, Jeremy Sobotor, with coming up with the Spacehog idea. We’re coming back with The Chinese Album in early 2021, by the way. Nativity in Black was the product of our partnership with Alliance Entertainment, the record industry’s biggest one-stop. We collaborate on A&R ideas with Erik Freeman over there, and it has been working great. Just one regret on both of those: we shoulda pressed more!

Andrew:
I have several Real Gone Music releases and what I noticed immediately is not only the quality of the music, but the extremely high quality of both your pressings and packaging. You guys do a great job. How do you guys do it, and why is that something that is important to you?

Gordon:
It is important, and has become increasingly so. Remember, we were very much a CD-first label until about three years ago, so in many ways I have been learning the ropes of LP production as we go. One thing that has helped us is we’ve found a couple of manufacturers who consistently do a great job (and we’ve found a few that don’t). So we have steered more and more business to the good ones. Thanks very much for the compliment, by the way.

Andrew:
As I am sure you know, quality control is an issue within the vinyl industry. What steps does Real Gone Music take to ensure the highest QC standards?

Gordon:
Sort of answered this question already, but you really need to listen to the test pressings carefully, and examine them visually for defects (off-center, warps, dimples, etc.). Also make sure that you are providing good audio sources to begin with. With respect to the art, make sure your designers are doing high-quality scans, and even though it’s no fun, re-type the text when needed to make sure the reproduction is crisp.

Andrew:
Is there anything within the industry that you would like to see change for the better? What improvements would you like to see that you feel would be beneficial to us all within the vinyl community?

Gordon:
Two pretty obvious comments: things should be a bit cheaper so ordinary folks can enjoy the medium, and cut down on the turn time so when a non-limited title does sell out, you can get it replenished soon. Also I am eager to explore a more environmentally friendly variety of vinyl.

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Andrew:
I know this is a broad question, but who are some of your favorite artists? What’s your favorite genre, and why?

Gordon:
Free Jazz and Spiritual Jazz artists like John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, early ‘70s Miles Davis, Kraut Rockers like Can and Faust, ‘60s Psych bands like Jefferson Airplane, Post-Punkers like early PIL, ‘80s alternative bands like Hüsker Dü and the Meat Puppets, Classic Rockers like Neil Young, more recent acts like Pavement, I could go on. Oh yeah, and The Who…my daughter would kill me if I didn’t mention them! Basically anything that gets me high…naturally.

Andrew:
This may be an obvious question, but do you collect records? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? What do records mean to you? More so, what does music mean to you in general?

Gordon:
I have about 15,000 CDs and a couple thousand LPs. I am choosier about physical product than I used to be, but I have a lot coming into the house from our own Real Gone efforts. I have successfully indoctrinated my teenager into buying physical product, thankfully. With respect to what it all means to me, the bedrock of music is emotion. That’s what sets it apart as a medium. I have always had a pretty extreme emotional reaction to music, whether I am listening to it or making it. So, I am a lucky guy to have the job I do.

Andrew:
What are some albums you don’t have, but hope to find one day?

Gordon:
I got tipped off to a record by The Dynamic Five that appears to be just about the rarest album ever made. I would like to get a hold of that one. Then maybe we could reissue it!

Andrew:
What is one album that means the most to you and why?

Gordon:
Live at the Village Vanguard Again by John Coltrane. Always brings me to tears…even though some of it is guaranteed to clear the room of guests.

Andrew:
2020 was a weird year for sure, but there still was a ton of quality music released. What are some of your own personal “albums of the year?”

Gordon:
I just listened to Sufjan Stevens’ new record and at first blush it seems fabulous. Another record I have really liked is The Soft Pink Truth: Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase? On the reissue side, I have to give a plug to our own Airto: Seeds on the Ground release. A unique blend of Brazilian Folk, Fusion Jazz, and Psychedelia/Tropicalia.

Andrew:
What drives you? What inspires you most?

Gordon:
I am a pretty disciplined person, maybe too disciplined. Nose to the grindstone is sort of my natural state; hence our prodigious production schedule. So, it is really important for me to pause and appreciate the music we are putting out there. And just appreciate music in general; don’t allow the grind to obscure the beauty of the art.

Andrew:
Is there anything else you want all of here as the general record consuming public to know?

Gordon:
Just that I appreciate all the support that I have received both at Collectors’ Choice Music and Real Gone. If my teenage self had known what my career would be, I think I would have been pretty psyched! Thanks for allowing me to do what I do.

Image result for real gone music record label Airto: Seeds on the Ground

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, USA, Andrew has always loved writing, music, drumming and collecting music on CD, tape and vinyl. After losing his life-long vinyl collection in 2014, Andrew began his vinyl collection from scratch again when he met his future wife Angela in 2015. Andrew’s love of music only further blossomed as his collection spanned all genres possible. After amassing over 3,000 albums in under two years, he knew it was time to finally follow his dream of being a music journalist, and thus, Vinyl Writer was born.

Andrew’s not only the go-to friend for music trivia, but his intricate knowledge of the ins and outs of the music industry allows him to develop engaging questions that really tap into each artist and individual to deliver insightful and enjoyable interviews. He’s proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict, for fellow music addicts.

Andrew lives on Long Island, NY, with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin. Andrew’s collection of over 4,700 vinyl albums, plus several hundred tapes and CDs, tells the story of his passion for all that is music. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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