New York City Record did a profile on Earshift Music, here’s what they had to say:
“The Sydney based imprint reflects the next generation of talent from the Australian jazz scene and is hell bent on shaping new unique voices and pushing the very definition of what jazz can be and achieve.”
When people speak of jazz outside the United States, ample coverage is given to Europe and South America and their rich histories with the jazz language. One country that has not received as much attention is Australia. Jazz ‘down under’ may be one of the least spoken about scenes but it has its fair share of stylistic shifts and historical precedents, from early dance bands to myriad postbop styles, and international stars like Errol Buddle, The Necks, Graeme Bell and Ray Warleigh. Contemporary Australian jazz labels are actively looking to support and evolve the sounds that can be found throughout the country. One such label poised to help Australia reach new creative heights is Earshift Records.
The Sydney-based imprint reflects the next generation of talent from the Australian jazz scene and is hell-bent on shaping new unique voices and pushing the very definition of what jazz can be and can achieve. From the subtle, smooth postbop of bassist Sam Anning and world music styles of Compass Quartet to the laidback reggae style of Garfish, Earshift represents the fresh future of Australian music.
Earshift is the brainchild of saxophonist Jeremy Rose, who grew up surrounded by his parents’ eclectic music collection, which included everything from blues, folk and world music to a steady stream of jazz luminaries such as Miles Davis and Jan Garbarek.
After early training on classical piano and the clarinet, Rose settled on the saxophone and began crafting a sound all his own. While his parents’ collection helped to expose Rose to a wide array of sounds, it was the idea of improvisation and group dynamics that he found the most exciting. Rose says, “From the age of 10 I was forming bands at school and composing riffs and solos for band members who were learning to improvise.” Rose continued his formal studies as a student at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where he eventually earned his PhD in composition.
What makes someone want to undertake the herculean task of starting a record label? It began with Rose’s disenchantment with not having complete control over his musical output. “My first album with my co-led band The Vampires was released on an artist-run association’s record label called Jazzgroove Records. There were monumental shifts in the music industry at the time towards digital sales overtaking physical and unfortunately the distribution company collapsed and some of our royalties and sales went missing,” Rose says. In 2009, Rose was due to release three albums of various projects simultaneously and sought to make sure that it was done right, prompting him to start Earshift.
From the initial inclination of wanting more control over the production and distribution of his music, Rose has grown the label to include artists from jazz, new music, non-Western, Afrobeat and experimental genres. Not only is the roster of artists important to Rose, but being able to provide assistance in a constantly changing music climate is especially vital. As Rose says, “It is exciting to be able to offer support for these artists in a landscape of diminishing label support.”
Rose believes that Earshift’s recent releases portray the label starting to hit its stride. The label is gearing up to present itself for the international jazz arena with The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke being nominated for an ARIA Music Award (the Australian equivalent of the Grammy) for Best Jazz Album. Australianjazz.com commented on The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke: “Playing with the Vampires on this album has pulled some startling performances out of Loueke and, in kind, the band rise to his fire. One catches oneself thinking they sound the best they ever have.” Within & Without, Rose’s third leader release, features the talents of guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel alongside bassist Andreas Lang, drummer Tobias Backhaus and Sydney pianist Jackson Harrison.
What makes Rose want to work with a particular artist or band? Rose says, “Besides artistic excellence and quality sound recording, I am excited by artists who try to push the boundaries of the music, the tradition and their own practice. The release Abstract Playgrounds from Melbourne-based collective I Hold the Lion’s Paw, for example, is an exciting crossover, which breaches the borders of jazz with Afrobeat and psychedelic noise. Steve Barry Quartet’s release Blueprints & Vignettes saw a dramatic change in Steve’s compositional and performance practice as he embraced the musical processes of Elliot Carter. It’s exciting to see these artists develop and push themselves.”
In 2018, to celebrate 20 releases on the label, Rose started the Earshift Music Festival, with four nights of music featuring performances by The Vampires, The Strides, 20th Century Dog, Mister Ott and I Hold The Lion’s Paw. Rose states, “It has been a great way to celebrate the new music on the label and I look forward to building the festival.”
The future is bright for Earshift. Rose is getting ready to release some exciting new music from Melbourne-based saxophonist Scott McConnachie’s trio BDM with drummer Simon Barker and guitarist Carl Dewhurst as well as albums from trombonist James Macaulay, Berlin-based trumpeter Callum G’Froerer, pianist Harry Mitchell and trombonist Shannon Barnett, to name a few.
Earshift is primed to represent not only current Australian jazz but also the next generation of creative and adventurous spirits in music with Rose hoping to bring new voices to the forefront. “I’m excited by the talent and originality of the Australian music scene and hope to foster a community of artists that are pushing themselves and each other into new original musical frontiers.”