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Magdalena O’Connell | Hi-Tide Recordings

Meet Magdalena of Hi-Tide Recordings, an international record label based in Asbury Park New Jersey specializing in surf, instrumental, Hawaiian music and more.  Her and her husband Vincent run the label together and produce the annual Hi-Tide Summer Holiday (formerly Asbury Park Surf Music Festival).  They also play records as a duo under the name DJ Hi-Tide. They have performed at The Hukilau, Surfer Joe Summer Festival, Nashville Boogie to name a few.

I met the two behind Hi-Tide through work as their account rep. and after talking with them, checking out their site, and learning about what they were putting out I just loved their vibe.  The music they are releasing and that they are passionate about is the lifestyle they personify, they’re all in, and I think there’s something really cool and genuine about that.

How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?

It all started after my husband and I founded Asbury Park Surf Music Festival (now Hi-Tide Summer Holiday) in 2014 – booking regional surf acts for a day of music by the beach at Asbury Lanes. A few years later, the label was born to release Vincent’s band Black Flamingos’ first full-length record. The surf music scene started in California in the early 60’s, with multiple “waves” swelling since then, the most recent of which came with the release of “Pulp Fiction” in the 90’s. When Black Flamingos’ first record was ready for release, no existing labels seemed to be taking on new surf artists. So, the logical next step was to release it ourselves as Hi-Tide Recordings. The label itself has been such a fun and unexpected venture. The priority has been centered around new artists, and we are now getting the opportunity to work with established bands also. We have also expanded the sound of the label the last year, taking on a few vocal bands like The Hi-Risers & The Hula Girls.

What is a day in the life like?

I handle all of our retail order fulfillment from our workspace, social media content, artist communication, and more. Our release schedule this year is very busy, so lately it has been lots of mix & master approvals, album artwork input, submitting releases and getting our bands on the road with their new music. We also spend most of the year planning for Hi-Tide Summer Holiday – our big main event each August in Asbury Park.

What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?

I am extremely proud of the female presence we have on the label. The surf music scene is predominantly male and it’s refreshing to work with these talented female artists to get their music out there. We started with The Surfrajettes on the label – traditional surf with unsuspecting covers, bouffants & go go boots based in Toronto, ON. We added Lulufin The Woo Hoo from Osaka, Japan after we toured there last spring – they’ll be playing Hi-Tide Summer Holiday this summer. Northern California’s The Greasy Gills are one of our newest additions to the label, with a fantastic female rhythm section. Also – I love sequencing albums when I get the chance. I had the opportunity to sequence Slowey and The Boats’ upcoming LP, “Beneath an Amber Moon”. It flows very nicely, if you ask me.

What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?

I am still learning about the industry – so that comes with challenges. Creating timelines with vinyl turnaround times and our new distribution deal has also been challenging. When you’re releasing digital music directly, the timelines can be much shorter. But with vinyl projects, the projects need to be wrapped – mixes, masters and art 4-5 months in advance. Also as our bands expand their reach, they are playing more prominent events – which comes with arranging travel, backline, merch shipments, press & more. Other than that, I get a little impatient waiting for our vinyl to arrive. It’s so exciting when they get delivered, even if our shop dog Rosie doesn’t agree!

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?

Our success so far is based on relationships. Get out, see a show, connect a band you love to your local venue. Tell you local record store about them. We started 4 years ago with a monthly themed night at a local bar, featuring tiki drinks, visuals, surf vinyl & live instrumental surf bands, all to create a community in our town. We met tons of likeminded people at those events and they are the reason we built this momentum. The best advice I can give is to support other entrepreneurs, start small with your ideas, and have patience.

Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?

Vincent and I have always preferred to buy albums we love on vinyl. But, starting to DJ was when we began focusing on curating a real collection – everything from surf classics, lounge/exotica, 60s soul to Latin boogaloo. Every trip to a new destination means seeking out the local record shops with unsorted boxes of 45s! Traveling to Japan last year was incredible for that reason – we picked up some gems.

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.

I am so excited to see the vinyl trend is here to stay. There is an element of nostalgia for the older crowd, and pure excitement from the younger generation discovering it for the first time. Only worry is how to reach that middle crowd that has lost touch with buying physical music, and helping them find that excitement again.

What hobbies / things do you enjoy outside of work?

Vincent and I have been fortunate enough to have some great work/play travel adventures in the time we have been together. To date, Japan was my favorite trip we have been on together and I look forward to going back next year! Next up is Nashville Boogie in Tennessee, where one of our bands will play and we’ll have pool party DJ sets. It’s also our 5 year wedding anniversary, so we are roadtrippin’ down with a DJ stop in Pittsburgh on the way.

I also love to garden, collect and learn about plants. Our house is a jungle, and I love it! This year I will continue learning to sew and alter my own clothes with a master sewing friend. My goal is to waste less & wear vintage more. I have a slow growing collection of true vintage & patterns.

A goal down the road is to learn hand-drawn lettering. Both of my parents are artists, so visuals were a part of my upbringing. Many of our posters, album artwork, label designs start with my sketches. I also run our other company – two grooming & beauty lines inspired by the classics. Big Slick Pomade Co. started in 2014 as a line of handmade traditional hair pomades, followed by Lady Luck Brand, a line of retro-inspired hair products for ladies. Now we are starting the see crossover between Hi-Tide, Big Slick & Lady Luck with all of the events we attend, DJ, & our bands play.

Anything else you want to share or are really into right now musically?

Love this blog, and thanks so much for thinking of me for a conversation. Favorite music right now? Well, we listen to our bands quite a bit (we love them!). But I also love many different styles from indie to pop. Here are the last few albums I listened to:

Greg Townson “More! Travelin’ Guitar” (test press, thanks Furnace Record Pressing)

Pale Waves “My Mind Makes Noises”

Nick Waterhouse s/t

Slowey and The Boats “Beneath an Amber Moon” (Another test press)

Robyn “Honey”

White Lies “To Lose My Life…”

Only Yours “Overrun”

Los Freneticos “El Sonido Que Perdura”

Find Magdalena:


Facebook: @hitiderec

Website: https://www.hitiderecordings.com/

Shop: https://hitideshop.com/

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