You won’t hear this stuff in Amsterdam: This is Salt Lake City’s Red Light Sounds

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Owners/Founders: Jared Russell and Tia Martinez.
Year Established: 2007
Current artists: N/A (not the “official” home of any single artist)
Number of releases to date: 10
National Distribution: Ebullition Records, 8ctopus Records.
Is Roster Available on iTunes? No.
Number of albums sold: N/A (limited runs thus far).

Photo by Dave Brewer

What seems like every indie kid’s dream––running a record shop, which spawns into a record label––is actually Jared Russell and Tia Martinez’s reality. After opening Salt Lake City’s Red Light Books in March of 2007, the natural progression was to begin releasing music the duo enjoyed. The initial idea, releasing live recordings made at quasi-illegal punk, noise, and metal shows held at the record shop itself, evolved into something much more. Red Light Sounds was officially launched in autumn of 2007.

Red Light Sounds is the audio extension of the store itself. Not just anything is sold at the shop, and likewise, not just anything is released on the label. The label is extremely artist-oriented, and enjoys its status as somewhat of a “cult” label, even with only 10 releases under their belt. Oh, sure, they aren’t exactly Interscope, but 10 releases in roughly a year all financed by a fledgling label specializing in very extreme forms of music is quite a feat. Beginning with the Gudgeguh EP CD-R, the label has made something of a habit of releasing “non-official” and almost antiquated forms of music, gradually evolving from CD-Rs to cassettes to CDs and VHS tapes. This might sound like something anyone enthralled with the darker side of music could do with a few extra bucks and some time, but it’s not exactly that simple. Quite a bit of thought and production have gone into their releases, and the fruits of their labor are beginning to pay off, as the label will be releasing the heavily anticipated Eagle Twin/Night Terror split 7” in December 2008. The label isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, with 12 further releases planned within the next year by such varied bands as Black Seas of Infinity, AODL, Night Terror, and your humble narrator’s own Invaders. Red Light’s releases thus far have fairly limited runs, and most feature artwork by a few of Salt Lake’s local artists, such as Sri Whipple and Eli Morrison. Not too shabby for a small mom-and-pop label that specializes in noise and extreme metal, and it brings a further sense of viability to what Russell and Martinez are doing.

It’s impossible to question the motives of Russell and Martinez in terms of their sheer dedication to their shop and their label. Few people would even consider attempting to run a book/music shop in conjunction with working regular day jobs and raising a family. They do it simply because they love it. Harkening back to their original idea of releasing live recordings done in the store, the couple has seen firsthand bands that they consider to be the pinnacle of extreme music in Utah, but who weren’t exactly receiving the appreciation they deserved. Your run-of-the-mill record buyer would almost undoubtedly not appreciate such an act such as Black Seas of Infinity. They would almost definitely either disregard it as nothing of any valid musical consequence, or, more likely, turn it off immediately in terror. Night Terror isn’t going to be appearing on MTV any time soon, and you will never find their releases at Best Buy. Ghastly Hatchling would most likely be regarded as pornography, bordering on material that should be outright banned in most countries. But let’s face it–– this type of music is best described as one of the only honest forms of “punk rock” left, from the anti-establishment vibe of the music, to the do-it-yourself packaging and release.

Though the record label is receiving a lot of attention, none of that interest would exist without Red Light Books. While offering everything from comic books to extreme underground metal, the shop has also showcased several live shows. Unfortunately for the shop and the bands that have played there, a few individuals inadvertently helped draw the ire of some of the neighbors, resulting in calls to the police and the fire marshal, but this may be a blessing in disguise. Russell and Martinez are in the process of moving Red Light Books into the basement of the Guthrie Building on 200 South, which will be able to host shows without interference, and, although not as big, will be able to afford them the luxury of having more money to pump into their releases, and will more directly showcase the vision for the shop that both hold. Until the move is finalized, Red Light Books is located at 179 East and 300 South, and the label can be contacted by e-mailing Do yourself a favor and support them. It’s rare to see a label or shop, much less both, offer such worthy material here in our fair Salt Lake City.

Red Light Sounds

RLS-001: Gudgeguh – Self-Titled – CD & Cassette EP (2007)
RLS-002: Dead Yeti – Sky Burial – CD (2007)
RLS-003: Night Terror – Primitive Reaction – CD EP (2007)
RLS-004: I Hate Girls With Bruises – First Night – CD Run of 20 (2007)
RLS-005: Ghastly Hatchling – Writhe – CD+VHS Run of 17 (2007)
RLS-006: Night Terror – Dog: T ribute to Makoto Aida – Cassette EP (2007)
RLS-007: Cloud Kiva – Self-Titled – DOUBLE Cassette Box Run of 10 (2007)
RLS-008: Expulsion – Self-Titled – CD & Cassette Demo (2008)
RLS-009: Dirty Uncle Davey - Space Drones for Evil Knievel – CD Run of 13 (2008)
RLS-010: Mystified - Major Fog – CD Run of 50 (2008)

Upcoming Releases:
RLS-011: Leviathan Zine #10 – CD Run of 100 (Dec/2008)
RLS-012: Sonic Disorder / Night Terror - Split Cassette Single (Dec/2008)
RLS-013: Eagle Twin / Night Terror - Split 7” Run of 200 (Dec/2008)