In honor of Independence Day, KEXP is saluting some of our favorite indie record labels who’s DIY-spirit helped revolutionize the music industry. As an independent radio station ourselves, KEXP is thrilled to give a 13-gun salute to these pioneers with a series of label spotlights through the Fourth of July.
Fat Possum’s official motto is “We’re trying our best,” which is a testament to both the honesty of the label, which only recently managed to get out of the red, and their truly independent nature. Fat Possum was founded by Matthew Johnson in 1992 as he scoured Mississippi for some of the last remaining authentic bluesman. But unlike the archivists, the academics, and the blues-purists, who seek to categorize and record these artists for the sake of posterity, what Johnson sought was their (brutally) raw passion, regardless of how that played into the gentrified idea of what blues should be. Fat Possum is responsible for dragging some of the blues’ most remarkable and talented characters out of total obscurity and into the national spotlight, signing artists like the world-renowned R.L. Burnside, the legendary Junior Kimbrough, and the “lovable psychopath” T-Model Ford. In more recent years Fat Possum begun to move away from the blues and is quickly acquiring one of the most impressive and eclectic group of artists of any label, signing acts varying from The Walkmen and The Black Keys, to rappers El-P and MellowHype (of Odd Future fame), to the electronic-americana artist Youth Lagoon, as well as re-issuing classic albums from artists like Al Green and T. Rex.
For more information about one of the most interesting labels in America, check Jay McInerney’s fascinating 2002 New Yorker profile on Fat Possum, and be sure to listen to some of the label’s most well known artists (including a video of T-Model Ford drinking during a KEXP session with John Richards) below:
(I feel bad posting two T-Model Ford songs, but do yourself a huge favor and check out this this one as well.)