Published on October 26th, 2012 | by Ballard Lesemann0
Young Royals: The Musicians Behind King City Records
Forming a professional record label used to be prohibitively expensive and implicated. Such an endeavor required tons of capitol, a staff of longtime music biz folks, an office, and a room full of product and office supplies. These days, any musician or budding entrepreneur who wants to get going with a label can successfully pull it off with a little digital know-how, a limited supply of physical product, and a healthy sense of determination and ambition.
Charleston-based musicians Matt Megrue and Tyler Boone are taking a stab at the record label game. The two songwriters have plenty of experience as independent artists, and they’ve both recorded and released their own collections before. Megrue and Boon recently partnered under the label name King City Records.
The idea for King City Records first took shape in 2009 when Megrue, a veteran player in Georgia’s band scenes, started working on a new pop/rock project called Loners Society. “I was in a few different Athens and Atlanta bands, and I had a couple of solo records, plus the stuff I have been doing with Loners Society. I created it for me to have a single outlet or umbrella for all of my past, present, and future releases,” he says.
Megrue doesn’t have a clever story or anecdote about how he came up with the label name. He says it simply came to him when he started filling out paperwork to make King City Records a legitimate business.
“I had to have a name, and we had just played Charlotte the night before so I already had ‘The Queen City’ moniker fresh on my brain,” he remembers. “But I started thinking about Charleston and the things that make this place unique and how much I love it here. We have so many incredible things happening here. Not only music, but food, art, history… so many amazing things. To me, it is hard to find a better place to live than this, and I just thought, ‘If Charlotte is the Queen City, Charleston has got to be The King City.’ In a moment of brashness and spontaneity, King City Records was born.”
Megrue relocated from the Peach State to the Lowcountry in 2006. Last winter, his friend Tyler Boone convinced him to expand King City from a personal project to an actual, multiple-artist label. Boone’s new EP Changing Pace was almost ready for release. Megrue agreed, and in the spring, Boone officially joined up as a staff member of the label.
“He came to me with the idea of extending the label beyond just my projects, and I was pretty hesitant,” Megrue says his label partner. “I didn’t want my goals for potential artists and attention to detail to interfere with their creative process. As a musician myself, I know how we can be and the thought of becoming ‘the man’ didn’t really thrill me.”
“Tyler’s skill set is so strong in areas that have typically been my weaknesses,” Megrue adds. “For me, it has been extremely refreshing to have someone on staff who I can work great with but also learn from. He really has proven to be invaluable in getting this label up and running, and I think that it is pretty safe to say that if it weren’t for Tyler, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”
Megrue and Boone approach their label as both a full-on business/commercial venture and as a collective, artist-supported situation.
“All of the artists on our roster right now are very tight-knit, to the point that some of us share similar members,” Megrue says. “Over the last year or two, we’ve all supported each other in different ways, so it felt very natural and organic to come together under the King City label and make it official.”
Over the summer, King City welcomed another act to the roster — Americana/folk act Wrenwood. Lead singer/acoustic guitarist Dallas Corbett and electric guitarist Dan Rainey formed Wrenwood in Charleston last year. Rainey also plays live with Loners Society and Tyler Boone’s band.
“Dan is such a phenomenal guitarist,” Megrue says. “He would always come to rehearsals mentioning a songwriting project he was working on with Dallas. I finally had the opportunity to hear them live when they opened for us at the Windjammer one night, and I just really loved her voice. She’s this tiny little thing but has this voice with so much boom — and on top of all that, she writes really, really good songs.”
King City plans to release a Wrenwood “digital 45” later his year. The duo’s debut full-length album is due early in 2013.
“Everyone was excited about the possibility of working together,” Megrue says. “I think the addition of Wrenwood has been our first step into the great unknown of being a true, independent record label.”
As far as titles go, Megrue and Boone have been joking about what their official titles might be, and they prefer to dismiss such terms as “president” and “C.E.O.” Megrue simply handles all of the basic business dealings, branding, and designs while Boone focuses on promotion and marketing.
“Obviously, being an indie label means we need all hands on deck to help raise awareness for what we’re trying to do,” Megrue says. “We look to our artists, street team, and anyone else who believes in what we are trying to do to help us out as well.”
In regards to the upcoming releases, special events, and promotions, King City Records’ short-term goal is to throw one hell of a bash on Nov. 3 at the Tin Roof.
“The short term goals are for us to get our name, our brand, and our mission out to the local communities before we start moving outwards to a more regional aspect and of course eventually to the national level,” Boone says.
“That’s been our first step out into the public consciousness, so we’ve been working really hard on just getting word out and trying to raise awareness for what we are doing,” Megrue adds.
King City has full-length releases by all three acts early in the works for early 2013. They have plans for a few special releases and events, too.
On Sat. November 3, Megrue and his crew will host a showcase at the Tin Roof in West Ashley The concert is designed as a three-act show featuring sets from Wrenwood, Loners Society, and Boone and his band.
“We have a great thing here, and I really think it is important for us to give back to a community who has shown us so much support in such a short time,” says Megrue. “We all love it here and want to help keep this place the King City. It is going to be a great night,” he adds. “I know we’ll all be relieved for it to finally get here, so the bands will definitely be cutting loose a bit. We have a few things planned to make the show unique, including a free grab-bag with a bunch of cool stuff for the first 50 people through the door.”
Megrue and Boone sincerely want King City Records to make a positive impact on the Charleston music scene over the next year or so.
“We’re not looking to be an elitist group who have no intentions with working with people,” Boone says. “We want to make sure our goals, mission, and outreach are promoting a healthy environment and, thus, helping to push the Charleston music scene to bigger and better things. Working and promoting with other people is what it’s all about, and we want people to know that we are wanting to be the voice for the amazing music coming from Charleston and the surrounding areas.”
In the five years since moving to Charleston, Megrue feels like there’s been a lot of support for jam-based and country/bluegrass/roots music, but he’d like tobacknowledge other local bands who are doing their own thing without much support in their hometown scene. “I would really like to see our label become the voice for the next wave of bands like that — bands who still view music as an art form, write incredible songs and stories, and buck the popular trends,” he says. “I’d also really like to see our label develop a reputation for consistent, quality releases. We want you to know that if we believe in something enough to put that record out, you can trust that you are going get your money’s worth.”
Loners Society, Tyler Boone, and Wrenwood share the stage at the King City Records Showcase on Nov. 3 at the Tin Roof. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $5. Visit kingcityrecords.com and facebook.com/kingcityrecords for more.
Top photo by Jessica Lews.
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