For Daniel Craig, there is nothing more satisfying than finding a new artist and exploring a discography he never knew existed. A 30-year-old High Fidelity type, Craig's life revolves around spending time in record stores and going to as many local shows as possible, all while settling into a new marriage and working a day job. His self-run record label, Fly The Light, was created with the simple intent of releasing good music into the world, and since 2013 he's been helping bands and musicians press their records when they can't afford to do it on their own.
Flyer: How did Fly The Light get started?
Daniel Craig: I started a record label named Fat Sandwich with a friend named Daniel Drinkard in 2009. He eventually got engaged and decided to move to Birmingham, Alabama, and we couldn't run the label in two different cities. I just gave it over to him and decided to start from scratch. Fly The Light started in 2013. I was reading a book, and I saw the phrase "fly the light," which is a loose translation for a demon that comes out at night. I thought that sounded like all of the people I work with and all of the bands I hang out with.
Fly The Light is a one-man show. With 19 releases under your belt, how do you fund all of it on your own?
When I first started the label, I was using the excess of my student loans. Now, I get paid well enough [from working a job] to release most everything, but honestly, I haven't turned a profit on any of my releases. I am close to breaking even on the Dead Soldiers' All The Things You Lose. But music is the number one motivator for me in my life. Maybe music defined me, but it has made me the person I am. I'm eternally grateful for that. So I want to help musicians get out there, and I like believing in people.
You help musicians press their music when they can't afford to do it. How do you decide what you're going to release?
It's music that I believe can be something. When I first started, I wanted to be Memphis oriented and focused. When I first heard [local band] The Star Killers, and heard Julien Baker play, good God, I knew I had to get behind it. There's that emotion [that] seeing a live band gives you, and you just know it. But coming across [Melbourne, Australia's] #1 Dads was just a chance happening. I was looking for another band that everyone had been listening to named Dads, and I stumbled across them instead. I contacted their label in Australia, and bam, I was releasing it here.
A few months ago, Fly The Light pressed the eighth annual Rock for Love compilation. How did that come about?
It was something that kind of came out of talking with Marvin Stockwell [of local band Pezz]. He introduced me to J.D. Reager [who helped found Rock for Love], and it just fell together once I had their permission. I originally wanted to do it because the Church Health Center really helped me when I had something going on. They paid for all of these tests and medication. That's why I threw my hat in the ring, but Marvin and JD were the ones who gave me permission.
Which release are you most proud of?
You know, the first #1 Dads record, for personal reasons. I suffered from an anxiety disorder for a really long time. Tom Iansek, he is #1 Dads. His record Man of Leisure is just about how the world is one big playground. Listening to it, [I realized] I literally couldn't allow myself any longer to be a prisoner of the city. I had this irrational fear of traveling. I just love that record. It never gets old.
What was the first record you got as a kid?
My first record was Bush's Sixteen Stone. I love that record. We didn't have a lot of money [growing up]. When Bush played the Mud Island Amphitheatre, we sat on the riverbank and listened to it from there. But when I was a kid, my dad used to play all of these records, and we would blow the doors off of the house listening to old bands like Black Sabbath. I thank my dad for making me as musically inclined as I am.
What do you have cooking up right now?
We just approved the test presses for GRYSCL's one-sided 12 inch. It's split between me and another label named Broken World Media. It should be out in November. But I'm dialing everything back a little bit. I'm slowing things down to a more gradual pace so I can focus on giving each release the right amount of attention. Instead of just filling people's ears, I'd like to give great music to the world.