A Feature on Green Line Records
February 13, 2018 | By Alexa Portigal
Meeting on the first floor of the Curry Student Center, I was led back into the Greenline Records offices, which are expertly hidden away from eyesight. We gathered in a dimmed recording studio surrounded by comfortable furniture and colorful album covers lining the walls. Greenline’s president, Phil Imkamp, reflected upon his time within this student organization, outlining his personal and presidential goals post-graduation.
It was September 2014 when Imkamp became a part of Greenline, right in the midst of his third year. He is a business major with a music industry minor, so this job “fits in well,” he said. “It just kept me going meeting new people and doing something different on the side other than just doing business.”
Greenline Records is a student-run record label that has been “laying the tracks for Boston’s best since 1998,” according to their website. An integral part of the Northeastern’s community, Greenline Records highly influences the artists that come through its doors, and is revolutionizing the student music industry. Although Greenline Records has been around for 20 years, it has only been actively running for the past seven years, said Imkamp. “Joey Lafyatis kind of started it seven years ago,” he said. “He’s the main reason everything is how it is now. A lot of volunteers that are now graduating, or have recently graduated, joined because of him. He started it with ten people, and now we have 60-80 people in our organization.”
Like many students who come to Northeastern, Imkamp was unfamiliar with Greenline Record’s work until a close friend pushed him to attend a weekly meeting. “I just got in there and learned that this was really awesome, and something you should hear more about,” he said. The student organization urges volunteers to go out and learn from real-world experiences.
Many students begin their journey with Greenline in the Artist and Repertoire department, or A&R. In this department, one goes out and scouts local artists to bring into the fold of the company. Student volunteers are given freedom to choose the bands they want to bring in.
“We want people to be passionate about what they do, and use that as a driving force, so it’s honestly down to those volunteers for who they want to work with,” said Imkamp. “And that’s the same with the recording department. Some people prefer more punk, acoustic folk, or hip-hop, so we don’t really want to force anybody, or any artist, on our members. Otherwise, people just don’t go into it as much as they really should, and they kind of let it drift.”
Greenline Records is a non-profit student organization, making all of the services and the volunteer time free of charge and extracurricular. “Any sort of money just goes to the artist. Whether it’s selling something or putting it on Spotify,” Imkamp explained. “And that’s what we’re proud of, with just maintaining an educational basis.”
Northeastern University provides studio space and a budget for Greenline Records to use which goes toward studio live recording, marketing, merchandising, booking and management.
Greenline Records doesn’t hold any rights regarding an artist’s content. Artists are required to sign an initial contract, agreeing to record a single with Greenline. All artists at every stage of their career are welcome. The musicians are always allowed back to record further music with Greenline, but the initial process is rather short, and ranges between 4-6 months per artist.
Many students form bonds great friendships with artists and band members. The unique community within Greenline Records has given a strong impression to those that have worked with the label. Alumni band, Atlas Lab, and a recent release, Gentle Temper, can both quickly conjure up positive experiences and fond memories with the record label’s team.
Atlas Lab, where psychedelic soul meets groovy instrumentation, formed from a few jam sessions and mutual friends. They were sent a cold email from a band manager, asking if they would want to come in a do a song with Greenline. “We put out one live and studio video,” said Samm Bahman, the lead guitarist and a vocalist of Atlas Lab. “We just did one song where we recorded it all together, and we came in and did over-jobs and finished it that way.” The Greenline team even showed their support at a non-Northeastern gig. “[The basement show] wasn’t sponsored by the school, but the community has always been so supportive,” said Solei, the lead singer of Atlas Lab.
Greenline’s unconventional approach is very much noticed and respected. “I didn’t have this when I was that age,” Bahman said. “Schools are teaching kids to be involved. And get involved not only with the production, but also the promotion side. The fact that it was so put together and professional was something that I really respected.”
Gentle Temper, and ocean-folk band that had “High Velocity Pineapple” among its name prospects, formed from a mutual interest in The Eagles and a Joe Walsh guest appearance at their college. Becca Peters, the band’s manager, first reached out to one of the lead vocalists, Marion Earley. Both Peters and Earley have siblings that are in the same band, so the mutual connection help start the alliance. They also had a chance to experiment with new ideas. “Ryan [Meier, a band member] and I had this idea for an EP, and we brought it to Becca. They had never done anything like a live documentary EP before, and they were all super down to do it,” Earley said.
Peters, Gentle Temper’s manager, feels that it is very important to become involved with artists that she truly likes as people, with also having a strong connection to their music. “[managing a band] is really like a relationship,” Peters said. “You kind of have to test it out. You date a little bit, and see if you like it, and then after that it can get a little more serious. It’s a slow process, but I think it matters. You have to really care to do this job.”