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Inside Forged Artifacts: Twin Cities’ Smithy of Local Music

Jan 16, 2014

By Jerrod Greenisen

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Radio K’s Off The Record recently had a chance to take a deeper look at Forged Artifacts by talking with Matt Linden. He is the owner and operator of the Twin Cities based label, focusing primarily on local music. Jerod Greenisen sat down with Linden, and got him to share a bit about running the label, Frenchkiss, and the dusty corner of some college radio station. 

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Tell us about yourself? 

I'm Matt Linden and I own/operate and curate the label/family Forged Artifacts here in the Twin Cities. 

What draws you to local music? 

The Twin Cities have a wealth of different personalities and genres and I think that aspect can push people to experiment and be unafraid to do so. Sometimes that can mean pretty iffy results, but sometimes it can make for amazing art. We're a fairly small market but the talent is plentiful and if you want to discover new interesting music, you can. 

"The learning curve has been immense, but it's been fun the whole way."

What was behind the idea that started this label?

After writing both seriously and for fun about music and number of other subjects, I decided I wanted to do something more substantial for the bands I was covering, following and digging. This lead to me brainstorming what substantial meant in those terms and then creating, molding and shaping Forged Artifacts into what it is today. The learning curve has been immense, but it's been fun the whole way. It's the most rewarding thing I've been a part of.

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Where has it come since it started?

Like a lot of people who start a label (maybe), I didn't know what I was doing at first. In the beginning, it was questions on questions on questions and mentoring and emailing and researching and questions and more questions. It was all the trial and error and risk that comes with any business or passionate hobby. I'm proud of what's been accomplished so far. We get good looks from local press and awesome fans that are always there to check out and promote our releases. It's always cool when your peers take notice of what you're up to. We have 8 releases from local and non-local artists alike, across a number of styles and genres, and I can't wait to see where it goes in the coming year. 

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Where is it going? 

We just want to keep grinding and release engaging, fun music. I want to keep meeting inspiring, creative and all around good people who challenge me. I want to keep throwing release shows. The real beauty in running a one-man-show label is not knowing where you're going, and having the freedom to do so.

What is the most exciting aspect about doing what you do?

My goal in working with a band is pretty simple and I tell every band I work with the same thing: I want your music to be heard by as many people as possible. I truly believe in all the bands and records flown under the FA banner and I want others to have the same feelings about the art as well. If a band can work with FA and end up with more fans/listeners than I consider it a job well done.

Also, just bringing people together. I like the kinship that can be created between label-band, label-fan, band-band and band-fan that can be cultivated by all of us working together and doing something awesome. It's something I experienced with our first showcase show and it was truly humbling to witness.

Have you always been into music, or is this a revival in interest?

Any answer will ultimately sound cliché or trite, so I'll just say I'd rather be dead than deaf.

"I'd rather be dead than deaf."

Is there something that keeps you in the Twin Cites?

Cold air builds character and sometimes I'm not sure if I have enough… So I stick around.

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How interested is your label in representing only local music?

We definitely aren't set on only releasing music from local artists, but I do think it's important. When getting the label started, it made sense to work with local bands to get rooted and build a fan base that I could see out at shows and say what's up to. In today's world and music landscape, it's easy to lose sight or completely disregard the "local ties" aspect for any label, of any size. The rise of digital and internet-based culture has kind of put the idea "local" on the back burner in a way, I think. Without stepping on any toes, I think that works great for some labels and simply cannot work for others. My goal is try and keep a 50/50 ratio of local and non-local artists on the roster. Is that possible? Sure. Do I think it will happen? Who knows. But I think it's important to be cognizant of the culture and sounds that surround you. 

I also think there's something to be said about being able to throw a showcase as we did a month ago with Prissy Clerks, Holographic Sands, France Camp and Gloss at the drop of a hat. Minimal travel times, the bands are all familiar with each other and we had an awesome time. That's very important to me and the family atmosphere I want to create with the label. 

See more: Interview with France Camp and Holographic Sands

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The name Forged Artifacts seems to imply a certain feeling, would you elaborate on what that might be?

Ha, I have no idea. It feels good, man. It's come to mean a number of things to me for sure. I think it's cool because it's kind of a play on words. Forged meaning both counterfeit and something created, giving shape to music in a physical form. Artifacts is self-explanatory, but an artifact could be something from the past and something that will last long enough to be consider an artifact in the future. In the present, we are creating the past in the future. 

Although, it should be said, we aren't hocking any fake vinyl or tapes or CDs. This is the realist deal. 

"In the present, we are creating the past in the future."

Let’s talk mediums. Cassettes, what’s up? Vinyl-- the best? CDs will they be forgotten?

Let's keep this brief. Vinyl records are awesome. Cassettes have the most character. CDs are about to take an indefinite hiatus to a dusty corner of your local radio station. The end.

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Forged Artifacts is a great tangible resource for many looking for something more than a download. Is there a future or a way in which where both mediums are utilized fully?

In starting Forged Artifacts, and working with any band, the most important thing is having a physical piece to accompany the music. Having said that, people are going to interact with music however they like. I listen to CDs, tapes, records, headphones, iPods...you name it. It pretty much boils down to what I tell every band I work with: I want your music to reach as many people as possible. How do you do that? Make music available digitally and in physical form. You have tape people, you have vinyl people, you have Spotify people. Music is music is music. We don't discriminate against mediums and I think it's damaging to do otherwise. 

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College is all about aspirations; would you elaborate on taking the leap and starting Forged Artifacts on your own?

Never let The Man bring you down.

What’s next for Forged Artifacts?

We have two new records on deck to share in the early part of this year and hopefully a bunch more in the coming months.

We've also joined forces with Frenchkiss Label Group, who will be handling our digital distribution worldwide and will hopefully get our releases into tons of ears.

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"CDs are about to take an indefinite hiatus to a dusty corner of your local radio station. The end."


Written by Jerrod Greenisen