MC: Tell us how Joseph got connected with ATO Records.
Closner: It’s funny. Getting industry—any team member—for us has been a domino effect. We got a really amazing booking agent [who] introduced us to our incredible manager, and our manager introduced us to a number of labels who were interested. We ended up going with ATO in the end because they just have so much heart and gut about it and seem to believe in it so much. I can sense that they just got it. [ATO General Manager] Jon Salter is super passionate about it.
MC: What kind of support do they provide?
Closner: They’re incredible, honestly. Obviously the financial support—they play the role of the investors, like a small business startup. But also creatively they are collaborative with us and have really good ideas for promotional things, like how we’re going to do the videos. Jon was on every single email of every mix from our album as well. It’s just amazing when people like that vouch for you to their communities and that’s so much of the battle in getting heard—people with clout referring you and telling other people about you and that has been crucial for us. So our label is really hands-on.
MC: You worked with producer Mike Mogis in Omaha, NE. You don’t hear too many people doing music out there…
Closner: Once again, it was a lot of different phone calls with a bunch of different people and meetings and trying to soft out the relational connection with everyone. Because it’s obviously such a vulnerable thing to put yourself into the hands of these people and have them be the ones to help you express the thing you need. These were all referrals from our management and relationships they had and the label. It was Jon’s idea actually—because of First Aid Kit and Jenny Lewis—and how Mike had worked with female vocals a lot, so we gave Mike a call and he really got it. He was using some of the same language to describe what he envisioned that we talked about among ourselves before we even said it. He understood what we were trying to do and wanted to be a part of it. He just cared about it a lot—really excited about it and already really invested. We said, “Okay you’re gonna make this. And it’s like your own as well.”
MC: How involved was he? Writing sessions, producing, mixing?
Closner: Mike didn’t do any writing on it. … He’s a genius instrumentalist and basically, at least for us, you go in and track the bones of the thing. When we left was when all of the sparkle and magic happened ’cause he goes in all by himself at the studio and feels his way through different parts on different instruments. He tries a lot of different things, so it was amazing to see what kind of landscapes and textures he came up with after the fact, in the 11th hour of the process. It really came together.
MC: Joseph is aligned with Performing Rights Organization (PRO) ASCAP. How did you establish yourselves with them?
Closner: The three of us are on ASCAP. It’s really easy to set up an account—you go in there, and if you don’t have a publishing deal you create a name for your own publishing company. You sign up and then they go and hunt down your royalties and it’s amazing.
MC: Any last advice for up-and-coming artists?
Closner: You just have to get out there. That’s my biggest thing. Especially in the beginning. … Meet other local bands and play with them at the different venues. … Try to find a way to stay in touch, ‘cause that’s how you really build a thing and you’re able to keep it going—really amazing and loyal people who care about what you’re doing and believe in it and feel it’s their own.
Photos by Ebru Yildiz