This week I’m happy to be talking to Megan Ternes of Seattle based indie label Suicide Squeeze Records where she’s the label’s manager. She’s got a great resume under her belt, is a playlist nerd and DJ. When she’s not working at the label she likes to:
…take my records for a walk by doing DJ sets throughout Seattle. I learn something new from each set, dialing in transitions, reading rooms, and finding my flow. Plus it’s a great way to strengthen my relationship to an album or song that I haven’t listened to in a while.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
It was never enough to just be a listener. I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina and started out writing album reviews for my high school paper, interviewing bands that came through town and the like. In college, I was a booking assistant for my college programming society, bringing regional and national acts to campus.
In 2011 I interned at Merge Records, then got an opportunity to intern in Sub Pop’s publicity department after college. I’ve also spent time doing ticketing and promotions, volunteering at KEXP, and joining the Sasquatch Festival team in 2015. I have been at Suicide Squeeze Records since 2016!
What is a day in the life like?
A typical day is being on email, communicating with band managers, booking agents, and the bands themselves. I speak to our artists daily, especially during an album cycle or tour. My boss (the all-awesome David Dickenson, founder of Suicide Squeeze) and I work in the same room, so the communication flow is easy and open. It helps for quick decision making and thoughtful considerations of anything that comes up in our day-to-day. I oversee our digital presence, occasionally handle packaging and shipping for our direct to customer orders. On the not so typical days, we travel to L.A. or New York to catch some of the bands on tour and have meetings, and get out of the office.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
It’s bittersweet career highlight, but working on Minus the Bears’ final studio release and their Farewell Tour. I’ve been a fan of Minus the Bear for years, and to be a small cog in the wheel of their last outing as a band was very special. Seeing them at their last three shows…waterworks! Often we’re looking so far ahead in our work that when a campaign as unique as a farewell tour comes to the table, it helps you stop the clock and appreciate the moments, big and small.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Beyond any normal job frustrations (deadlines come to mind), I think my top priority is making sure the artist feels as though we are working in their best interest at all times. When planning and executing a campaign, we leave that “one size fits all” mentality at the door. We want to honor the authenticity that artists put into their music with our own efforts to make the album a success.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Ask questions and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Go to shows and connect with people who share your passions! It’s very likely that you’ll meet someone who has skills and talents that would go well with yours.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Yes! It’s weird because I didn’t grow up with it as a big fixture in my childhood. My parents had a crate of vinyl between them, a copy of Thriller and Rumors were the highlights, and a couple of Beatles’ 45s. So it was really starting from scratch (lol puns) with buying up standard classic rock LPs from the used bins. My turning point was buying M.I.A.’s Arular, which was my first “new” LP. I loved how colorful and gigantic the album art looked in my hands, and the details within the gatefold offered one unexpected detail after the next. To this day, getting the album art mockups in my inbox is like Christmas morning.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
Across the street from our office is one of Seattle’s staple record stores, Sonic Boom. Every time I stop in (which is almost daily), it’s exciting to see what new retail strategies are being done by other labels and artists. The attention to details like the retail stickers, vinyl color, and special inserts will continue to make a buyer feel like they are getting a closer connection to the artist.
Tell me what you’re currently listening to?
Lately my heavy rotation is On Reflection, a project by Selling, Gold Panda and Jas Shaw, and Leon Vynehall’s 2014 album, Music for the Uninvited. It’s great “focus and get shit done” music. Also been really into Earl Sweatshirts’ Some Rap Songs and Ariana Grande 7 Rings. I’m a bit of a playlist nerd so I guess here is the right place to plug my My Favorite Murder: A Murderino Playlist and the Suicide Squeeze Suggests staff playlist.
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