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QRD #33 - the Father's Day issue - June 2007
about this issue
Martin Bowes of Attrition
Benjy Johnson of Benjomatic
Sam Rosenthal of BTFABG
William Amundson
Josh Howard author of Dead@17
Peter Ulrich of Dead Can Dance
Aaron Molina of If Thousands
D.A. Sebasstian of KSK
Alan Sparhawk of Low
Shane Sauers
Rune Flaten of Origami Arktika
Tore Boe of Origami Republika
Chris Olley of Six by Seven
Timothy Renner of Stone Breath
Patrick Ogl of Thanatos
Mats Gustafsson of Broken Face
Jason Wallach of Unquiet Void
Chris Wade of The Wades
Nevada Hill of The Zanzibar Snails
Wayne Barnes
Dan Sostrom of Tonevendor
Colin Newman of Wire
Joe Kendrick of WNCW
QRD - Thanks for your interest & support
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Nevada Hill - graphic design and custom printing
Interview with Dan Sostrom of Clairecords & Tonevendor
May 29, 2007

You may know Dan Sostrom from his days in Brittle Stars or from running Clairecords & Tonevendor.  While he has put his being in a band on hold for his family, he seems to have no regrets about the situation.

Name: Dan Sostrom
Projects: Brittle Stars (band), Clairecords (label), Tonevendor (record store)
Website: http://tonevendor.com

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!

QRD – 2015 update - any new insight from eight more years of fatherhood?

Dan – 8 years on has presented a whole variety of challenges & interesting life changes. It’s hard to think of everything that has happened in the past 8 years. Since this interview my wife & I had one more child (our daughter Lily, now age 5, & Ayler is now 8). We have endured a home with sinkhole issues, moved to the beach, I quit my job to do a record store full time again, & life is better than it’s ever been. Being my own boss has allowed me the freedom to spend more time with my children when necessary & family life has become a more central element of my life. Dance classes, soccer practice, mini-vacations around Florida, lots of school functions - these are all a large part of life now. Taking life in the slow lane, while the kids are young, is absolutely essential. All the clichés come true when you are a parent, the biggest one of all being “they grow up so fast.”

Another QRD interview with Dan:
ToneVENDOR interview (july 2004)