Talking with Matt Sullivan from Light In The Attic Records

December 20, 2017

I love Matt Sullivan. See that gorgeous, smiling son of a bitch above? That's him. He founded and co-owns Light In The Attic Records, the best reissue record label in the world. I first met Matt in Seattle in the early 2000's while DJing one of the early Light In the Attic live shows. I think it was a Saul Williams or Kid Koala. He told me he was planning to reissue cool old records and that the first release was gonna be "This Is Madness" by The Last Poets. Flash to 17 years later and LITA has gone on to reissue hundreds of the dopest, most unheralded releases in recorded history. They also distribute some of the most amazing labels in the world. And to top it all off they have their own damn record store! Sheesh. But behind all the press, accolades, and notoriety of LITA, at the center of it all is Matt and his business partner Josh Wright, who oversees distribution, retail and sales from their Seattle office. Incredible musical vision and taste, remarkable business savvy and ambition, and big ole hearts made of gold. 

 

I thought I'd hit him up on the way home from work.

 

Me: Hello.

 

Matt: Hello.

 

I'm gonna ask you some questions. You don't have to answer if you don't want to.

 

What's this for?

 

My own personal archives. No one will ever hear or read this interview.

 

Ok, that's good.

 

(Sooo, I ask him a bunch of warm up questions. Really stupid ones. Some he answers. Most of them he doesn't. I skip to the regular questions)

 

What's your favorite reissue Light In The Attic has ever released?

 

Native North America Vol. 1

 

What do you think is the most underappreciated reissue in the Light In the Attic catalog?

 

Johnnie Frierson "Have You Been Good To Yourself"

 

What is the worst record you've ever reissued?

 

Haha, no comment.

 

SAY IT! NO ONE'S LISTENING.

 

No comment!

 

What's the weirdest/craziest thing that's happened while trying reissue a record?

 

Hmm, probably the Lewis thing.

 

(So I'm driving home in the rain trying to concentrate on the road while Matt's on the speakerphone explaining the "Lewis thing". I'm spacing out and not really paying attention to him so here's a real journalist writing about this crazy tale.

 

Why do you live in the past?

 

'Cuz it's better than the future

 

Good answer. What's your favorite hip-hop album ever?

 

Sir Mix-A-Lot "Swass"

 

What's a record you wish you could've reissued but maybe another label beat you to it?

 

We tried to reissue that Alice Coltrane stuff from the 80's that Luaka Bop put out but I have to admit they did a nicer job than we probably would have done. I don't know, there's so many. I would have loved to reissue The Cramps catalog. I would have loved to reissue the Spacemen 3 catalog. I'd love to reissue "Swass" but I don't know if the world's ready for it yet.

 

Do The Smiths suck?

 

I don't like The Smiths. Not a Smiths fan. They make me really mad. Same with R.E.M. That's another one I can't stand.

 

LOL! Do you plan on paying your taxes this year?

 

I do.

 

Who's your favorite Seattle Supersonic player of all time?

 

Uhhh, that's a good question. I'd probably say Xavier McDaniel. My favorite era of the Sonics was when we had Dale Ellis, X-Man, Tom Chambers. Actually, Gary Payton was amazing.

 

What's the greatest rock & roll song of all time?

 

I would say, and you're gonna laugh. I play this song to get my kids to go to sleep. "American Pie" by Don Mclean.

 

What are you favorite labels you distribute?

 

Music From Memory, I really like a lot. I like the Mondo Death Waltz label. I like Mississippi Record a lot. There's a number of them but those are probably my 3 favorites.

 

I'm almost home and I gotta go. Can you email me your favorite records of 2017 and some snaps of the LITA Los Angeles office and crew pretending to work?

 

Sure. Here you go.

 

Washington Phillips - Washington Phillips & His Manzarene Dreams (Dust To Digital)

The Black Angels - Death Song (Partisan Records)

Hiroshi Yoshimura - Music For Nine Post Cards (Empire Of Signs)

Julie Byrne - Not Even Happiness (Basin Rock)

V/A - Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa (Ostinato)

V/A - The Voyager Golden Record (Ozma Records)

Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda – The Ecstatic Music Of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (Luaka Bop)

Beverly Glenn-Copeland – ...Keyboard Fantasies... (Invisible City/Séance Centre)

 

Patrick McCarthy - Project Manager & Reissue Producer

 

Emilee Booher - Music Supervisor & Licensing for Film/TV & Advertising

 

Jack Sills - Music Licensing & Publishing Manager

 

Emily Keating - Intern

 

Grant Olsen - Producer Film/Broadcast

 

 

Jackie Allen - Director of Publicity & Marketing

 

 Yosuke Kitazawa - Reissue Producer & Mechanical Licensing

 

 

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