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Arya David Imig of Sound Judgement Record Label

Arya David Imig of Sound Judgement Record Label

photo by Yousef Hatlani
photo by Yousef Hatlani

2015 sees the launch of independent booker, former OPB DJ, current podcaster, perpetual music-obsessive, and friend to many Arya David Imig’s label Sound Judgment (a moniker Arya first wore for a radio show he hosted at KPSU from 2005 to 2009). Arya has been one of the major presences in Portland’s underground (and overground) music circuit for as long as anyone can remember. Whether he’s organizing massive festivals like Big Ass Boombox, injecting some dry wit into discussions with Yousef Hatlani and Hollister Dixon on their podcast Faces on the Radio (which invited this quiet, awkward guy on for his first podcast something like two years ago), or racing to catch multiple sets spread across town, my friend has always got more than enough on his plate. Sound Judgment’s debut release is the excellent EP Where I Had Gone by Rod, a little bit punk and a little bit pop. I asked Arya to share some words on the release and himself earlier this week, and here’s what he had to say.

ELEVEN: What was the first show you ever booked? What’s the first booking you pulled together that you were really proud of?

Arya David Imig: I’ve been organizing events for as long as anyone who knows me can remember, going back to a block party I organized in my neighborhood when I was five. I can’t recall if there was any music at that event but we did have Jello. I think the first show I booked that I was really proud of was getting a friend’s band on a bill at the Paris Theater when it was still doing shows. This might have been back in 2003 or 2004 which now that I think about puts my all-ages show advocacy at an even earlier start date!

11: What was the impetus for wanting to start the label and how long have you wanted to do this?

ADI: Besides actually playing music myself, starting a label is probably one of the few things I haven’t done related to music in Portland over the last ten years. It’s definitely something I’ve thought about since like 2007 but never really something I felt I had the financial backing to do. This year I’ve been working full time at Everyday Music and decided I had the money to financially invest in something I believe in. I started this label to put out work by the band Rod.

11: How did you get in touch with Rod? What is it about them that hooked you?

ADI: I’ve gotten to know the members of Rod over the last five years through their other projects. Rod’s singer/guitarist Tommy Celt was the singer in a band called Profcal who had a great run until Tommy went to school in Costa Rica for a couple of years. Drummer Alan Bishop has played in a lot of projects over the last few years but I first met him when he played with a group called Kittin. Bassist Paul Thomas played in a group called Groves. I worked with these bands through my role as advisor to the non-profit Music In The Schools (MITS), which I “accidentally” co-founded back in 2007, and Rod’s guitarist Cannon Riggs was an essential member of the MITS community. I’d really enjoyed Profcal a lot and when Rod’s first recordings surfaced, I wasn’t surprised to enjoy them as well. The timing and the personal chemistry between all of us felt right. I texted Cannon and then Tommy, asking if they were interested in having the Rod EP be Sound Judgment’s first release. They talked it over and responded with enthusiasm.We met up at the Burgerville on Powell to discuss some details, and here we are!

11: On Where I Had Gone you can really hear the overwhelming influence sound of emotive hardcore and power pop-type stuff. However, I know that you have really eclectic tastes that go through many different styles of pop music and more unusual sounds. What kind of output can we expect from Sound Judgment?

ADI: It would be premature to say that there is a particular sound we can solely expect but it is safe to say that the output is most likely to continue in the vein of Rod–taut, well-constructed guitar driven rock songs with a passionate raw intensity.

11: Why do you think Portlanders are so into pop music from the past?

ADI: I don’t necessarily think that’s a trait unique to Portland or even all Portlanders. Portland has a strong history of producing widely recognized artists going back to The Kingsmen, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Dead Moon , The Wipers, and more. If there’s something an artist can’t help but emulate from someone they’ve been listening to all their life, it’s probably more of a subconscious osmosis thing »

– Matthew Sweeney