It was a year ago when we received an email from Michael Collier who was in the process of moving from Philadelphia to Charleston for school. We talked a bit about the music scene in Charleston and South Carolina and that was that. In that year Collier went to work, networking with other like-minded musicians and starting a DIY label/artist collective/booking company called Makeout Reef with a group of friends and roommates. The cramped space of their dorms wasn’t conducive for band practice, but that’s all about to change. Now they’re moving to a house off-campus where Collier is setting up his bedroom as a small studio and where they’ll be able to have band practice. It’s a huge step forward and an exciting one. Their debut label sampler featuring five bands shows promise and talent with cohesiveness between the groups and an overall great sound fitting of the damp coastal summers.
We caught up with Collier after we came across the Makeout Reef Sampler and chatted about the growing Charleston music scene and what they’ve got going on at their collective.
What was the inspiration behind starting Makeout Reef? Was it easy to meet people in Charleston when you moved down who wanted the same types of things out of music as you did?
Meeting like-minded people was easy just by going to shows and listening to records with friends of friends. Last year was my first in Charleston and within three months or less I had met just about everybody that’s involved with the collective. Most of the people in Makeout Reef play instruments (myself included) so initially, we were trying to recruit each other for different bands and it was disorganized and very noncommittal. Pretty soon though, we realized that we could make a bigger impact with collective action when it came to booking shows and getting our music heard. It also gives us the freedom to rotate in and out of each others bands/start new ones which is exciting for creativity (by the Spring there will be 2 or 3 projects that have at least one overlapping member.)
Makeout Reef is still really new and in the startup phase. What would you like to see it grow into over the next couple of years?
Since everything is still very fresh, I feel like I have a bunch of ideas running in different directions. Right now, we are focusing on getting shows booked for our bands and others, promoting our bands’ music, and making some new recordings. At the moment we aren’t planning to do any physical releases but that’s definitely a short-term goal if we can scrape together a little money. I’’d like to grow our roster with some more bands started by friends, be regularly booking out-of-town bands at all-ages shows in downtown Charleston, and have a small team of people involved with all the label-end things like graphic design and promotion.
How did you meet the other bands currently on the label?
I met Tobias, Ross and Drew from Mr. Rosewater before a Pop-Up Charleston show and found out we had a lot of the same musical interests. I met Renny from Them Ohs in the winter at a friend’s place (we followed each other on twitter for a while before that) and we played a show together as Cool Rich Dads in the Spring. Adam from Triathalon introduced me to Marra (Summer School) at a show they played at the Tin Roof after I had been here for only a couple of weeks.
Before you moved to Charleston what was the music scene like for you? What ways did you notice that Charleston is different, because overall Charleston is a very diverse music town. It’s like a tourist town, but underneath there’s a community and in that community seems to have grown a tight music scene.
I’m from Philadelphia which has a huge, accepting-as-hell music scene that is brimming with talent. The scene there thrives on house shows in dirty basements and has neighborhoods full of artists renting warehouses. It’s easier for people to perpetuate and support local bands in such a big, loud city where most houses have basements, unlike in Charleston. However, both cities have a great sense of respect and community and the artists do a lot to build each other up. The key difference is, I feel like Makeout Reef can potentiate the rate of growth and help make a difference in the tighter circle of Charleston, whereas we might just be more of a face in the crowd in Philly.
Tell me more about your new band Summer School and some of the plans you have for that band coming up.
The band is composed of Marra Kondrot (vox/guitar), myself (lead guitar), my roommate Alex Kohel on drums, and bass is a mystery at the moment but we have a handful of friends willing to play. Marra is currently writing some songs that I’ll be fleshing out guitar parts to and then we are going to co-write some. As far as sound goes, Marra initially pitched it as “Best Coast but with more weed.” Band practice is gonna start in mid-August so we’re planning on playing out by late September with some new music coming around the same time.
Who are some bands that have inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
I’ve been most inspired by members of the Hearts & Plugs roster like Brave Baby, SUSTO, Elim Bolt, ET Anderson, Grace Joyner, Hermit’s Victory, and Gold Light. The impact they’re making on the Charleston and SC music community as a whole is really exciting.
I also love bands with some surfiness or garage sound to them like Beach Fossils, The Blank Tapes, Ducktails, and Shannon and the Clams so the prospect of releasing music like that is also inspiring.
If you could sign one artist to your collective, money and the size of the band being no factor, who would you sign?
It’s tough to snub so many of my favorite bands but the ultimate choice would have to be Drake because then I would get to hang out with him and probably drink some champagne.