This weekend, an indie label run on creative obsession celebrates its 15th anniversary in San Francisco. The party for Ss Records, founded in Sacramento, will feature bands like Lil Bunnies, 100 Flowers, Screature, Ozzie, Andy Human & the Reptoids and more Jan. 15-16 at San Francisco’s Hemlock Tavern.
“The nature of my record label has never been about business,” says Ss Records founder Scott Soriano. “I’ve been putting out records since the 90s. … It’s become harder and harder but I still do it because (I’m) addicted to it.”
His addiction to music started young.
“I came up through the punk scene and late ’70s, early ’80s, so music was always an obsession,” Soriano says. In the 1990s, he ran the Loft — a small practice space on 21st Street that became a sort of punk playhouse. The Loft hosted informal shows for a decade, where local bands like Nar, the Tiki Men, Soriano’s band Los Huevos and others played, recorded and built a community. Soriano wanted to document those Sacramento bands he loved, so his first label, Moo-La-La Records was born.
Moo-La-La released about 10 records over five years before Soriano took a hiatus, but he didn’t stay away long.
“That got me hooked onto putting out records,” he says. When he formed Ss Records with Sakura Saunders in 2001, it had a broader focus than his first label. It continued to produce records for Sacramento bands, but expanded to cities beyond. His subsidiary label, Sol Re Sol Records, releases international music. Since 2004, Soriano has largely been a staff of one, with a handful of interns and willing friends offering help along the way.
Through Ss Records, Soriano says he enjoys taking a chance on a new band with a sound he likes.
“You don’t make money putting out peoples’ first records,” he says, “it’s like putting out a writer’s first book.”
He also re-issues rare releases, or recordings that were never released, keeping alive music from around the world that may otherwise be lost. However, he avoids romanticizing the “good ol’ days” of music, because he doesn’t believe in them.
“There’s always good music to discover from the past that people don’t know of,” Soriano says. “There’s always good music being made now.”
His obsession is with producing bands’ records who encompass the pass, present and future of music.
This weekend, make the trip to San Francisco to celebrate the work of Ss Records has done to keep the discovery of music alive. Here’s the lineup:
Saturday, Jan. 15: 100 Flowers / Spray Paint / Pony Time / Screature
Sunday, Jan. 16: Lil Bunnies / Life Stinks / Ozzie / Andy Human & the Reptoids