with Dan Sostrom of Clairecords & Tonevendor
May 29, 2007
Name: Dan Sostrom
Projects: Brittle Stars (band), Clairecords (label), Tonevendor (record store)
QRD – How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be in the professional music business?
Dan – I was a sophomore in college, 19 years old, when I decided to start up a venture selling CDs & records as a hobby. It stayed a hobby for about 6 years, & then started to become something more permanent & generating income. I also started playing music in my first “real” band at about this time.
QRD – What are a few highlights of your musical career?
Dan – My personal musical career highlight, as far as playing music, was being in the band Brittle Stars. Just something about the chemistry of the four of us, at that time in our lives, was perfect. The highlight of the other aspect of my career (running a label, selling music) was when I was contacted by Christian Savill (ex-Slowdive), asking me if I would be interested to hear/release music by his new band (Monster Movie) - at the time, I thought someone was playing a joke, as Slowdive was one of my all-time favorite bands.
QRD – At what age did you decide you wanted to become a father?
Dan – My thoughts on that have flip-flopped over the years. When I was younger, I wanted a bunch of kids when I got older. Then as my wife & I got married, we thought we would want some kids someday, but weren’t sure when. Then as we both approached age 30, we thought, “Well, if we’re going to do this, it had better be soon!” & we “tried” for a good year or so. Essentially we “gave up” right about a month before Ayler was actually conceived, so she was a very very pleasant surprise!
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your family has had on your career?
Dan – On the positive side, we are very lucky to have the flexibility of not having to rely on daycare - since I run my own business, I’m able to watch Ayler all day, as she stays with me in my office, while Heather works her job. On the negative side, it’s sometimes tough to get a lot of work done with a baby in the office...!!
QRD – What are some positive & negative impacts your career has had on your family?
Dan – Much the same as above. On the positive side, I’m able to spend a lot more time with my daughter than most working dads. Negative: this business of mine is not so lucrative & I’ve decided to take on a second part time job to help make ends meet, feed my family, pay for my daughter’s college, etc.
QRD – Has your daughter effected the music you make &/or listen to?
Dan – I don’t make music any more (or at least I haven’t in a long time), but she has definitely affected what I listen to, in a way. We have acquired a lot of children’s music, but try to get the most interesting stuff we can. We just got a bunch of the Putamayo Kids CDs, which are great & full of interesting stuff. On the flip side of that, we are trying to introduce her to as much music as possible. Kids don’t have to listen to “children’s music”. A mixture of that is fine, but there can easily be a good balance between The Ramones & Dan Zanes & Astrud Gilberto & just about anything else in my collection for that matter.
QRD – Have you had problems with the lack of steady money from a musical career providing the security you feel necessary in your household?
Dan – Well, as I said above, yes. We could still “get by”, but I took on my part time second job (doing civil engineering - which is what I got my degree in) midway through my wife’s pregnancy, knowing that we would need to do more than “get by”. It’s a bit tough having to go to work, even for that short period of time, for somebody else again. But it’s definitely all for my family; because if I was living alone or had my choice, I would be working for myself & no one else.
QRD – Do you think being a father or a musician has a greater impact on your community?
Dan – I don’t think my fatherhood has had much of an impact on my community yet. My daughter is approaching 7 months old, so I haven’t exactly become soccer dad or Girl Scout troop leader or PTA member yet. We do attend baby time at the library & have get-togethers with other new parents, but that’s about the extent of the community impact. I feel my business doesn’t much impact the community, but in what small way it does - a handful of thankful customers who are grateful such a fantastic selection of music is available to them - it’s a nice feeling.
QRD – Would you rather see your daughter eventually become a musician or parent?
Dan – I don’t see why she couldn’t be both! & I do hope that she becomes both! But naturally, I would not be upset if she didn’t want to be either one.
QRD – Both family & music seem like things that will take up as much of your time as you’re willing to put in. How do you end up dividing your time?
Dan – As I mentioned, I don’t play music anymore - & a big part of that is the family. If I didn’t have a daughter & a second job, I would likely be playing music again. So my family has affected the musical side of my life in that regard. They get 99.9% of my free time. I definitely leave work at work, & spend as much time as possible with my family.
QRD – Do you have a split/secret life between being a parent & being a musician?
Dan – No, they run one in the same!
QRD – What does your daughter think of your music?
Dan – Too young to tell yet, but there are certain songs or artists that Ayler will gravitate towards & get happier or jump or kick or squeal more when she hears them, so she definitely likes some of it. But I think she’s too young to tell what her likes & dislikes are yet - the next few years should prove quite interesting!
QRD – Do you think you could ever do a musical project with your daughter?
Dan – I always thought that was sweet when families get together & play music together. I look forward to that time, when my daughter can hold a guitar or bang on a drum, & we can jam as a family! I think it’s a great experience for us as parents & for kids as well.
QRD – Any words of advice to young people?
Dan – How young? For aspiring parents
in their late teens or twenties, I say kids are absolutely wonderful &
every cliché in the book is 100% true. For young children,
I say enjoy being young as much as you can for as long as you can!
Another QRD interview