Moving Music Forward
By Dan Sweeney
Hard to believe that Forward Motion Records, the label started by long-time local musician Fernando Perdomo, is only just now celebrating its first anniversary. It feels like a South Florida institution already. And, in reality, it has been a touch longer than a year. “We’ve released 30 releases – including LPs, EPs and singles – since July 2010,” Perdomo reports. “Technically, the unveiling party was in August so, we missed the first anniversary by a month with this show. It’s 13 months later.”
But if Perdomo and Forward Motion are a bit late to the party, they can be forgiven. After all, knocking out 30 LPs, EPs and singles in a year would be a feat for an indie label with ten times the resources of Forward Motion, which consists largely of Perdomo, the hard-working and aptly named Samantha Thrall, and the artists themselves, whom Perdomo especially lauds for the sense of community they’ve brought to the label. “Forward Motion is more than a label,” Perdomo says. “It’s a community of artists who work with each other, admire each other and are friends with each other. Unlike a lot of the labels that go wherever the money is, I feel like I’m going with what I love, which is singer/songwriter pop music. Song for song, I feel like our label has the strongest material. I like the kind of artist that can break their music down into just acoustic instrumentation and it sounds good. But we also have rock bands, jazz, some instrumental stuff.”
One year ago (OK, OK – 13 months ago), Perdomo started the label after his own band, Dreaming In Stereo, found itself at a crossroads. “Dreaming In Stereo was signed to a management contract with a manager named Bill Aucoin,” Perdomo recalls. “Bill passed away and we were the last act he signed. He discovered Kiss back in the ’70s, along with Billy Idol and Billy Squire. He had just gotten back into it and was also managing Nothing Rhymes With Orange. His death really affected me; I was so enamored with his generosity with working artists. I’ve always done tours and been a session musician, but I’ve always been so sad to see how bad musicians have it. So, I was like, you know what? I’m a musician, I think I know what needs to be done.”
Now, Forward Motion Records features a roster of 16 acts, including Perdomo’s own Dreaming In Stereo as well as Andy Pratt, a singer/songwriter with a decades-long career; Latin Grammy winner Jorge Moreno, who has broken into the English-speaking market with Forward Motion; and local favorites in the singer/songwriter scene such as Kim Drake and Jim Camacho. Although Forward Motions’ artists vary in where they’re at in their individual careers, Perdomo’s cautious selectivity ties them all together. “I get a lot of demos and I reject a lot of them because I’m not looking for what’s hip but what’s timeless. I don’t really deal with any indie-rock, Brooklyn-type stuff, but there’s other labels that can work with that,” Perdomo says. “The most important thing is how the song hits you and the impact the song has. I sometimes get demos where it’s very hip, dance-y music, but it’s not what I really like. I’d prefer just an acoustic guitar and a vocal or a piano and a vocal. At the same time, I also don’t necessarily like lo-fi. At Forward Motion, everything sounds radio-ready. The quality control is way up there, and that perfectionism has actually led to some problems. Like, we have trouble getting grants because people think we’ve got our shit together too much.”
At Thursday’s show, almost the entire roster will be represented as the artists not only celebrate the label’s one-year anniversary but also raise money for Kristi House, a local charity that helps young victims of sexual abuse. “We’re not trying to become the next Lost Highway and Matador. We’re built on small victories. My biggest goal is to bring back the hometown hero,” Perdomo says. “Miami needs someone to come out of here who isn’t Latin, hip-hop or electronic. I feel like we could have the next big thing in indie or pop. I feel we have Wilcos and My Morning Jackets. We have that quality artists. So, I hope these artists on Thursday are going to make a lot of fans. It’s like a music buffet with 15 artists playing 10 minute sets. It’s like speed dating for music fans.”
The Forward Motion Records One-Year Anniversary Party takes place 6 p.m. Thursday at Revolution Live, 200 W. Broward Blvd., in Fort Lauderdale. Jorge Moreno, Dreaming In Stereo, Jim Camacho, Jesse Young, the Mann Sisters, Omine, the Robert Goodman Band, Vic Kingsley, the Chris Alvy Band, Kim Drake, Lizette Santana, Tyler Bernhardt, Jennifer Kaiser, Union Cell and Joshua Stedman will all perform. Suggested donation for admission is $10, though all donations will be accepted. (Don’t be a cheap bastard.) Call 954-757-0950 or visit Jointherevolution.net. Contact Dan Sweeney at firstname.lastname@example.org.