The ESP Disk founder is interviewed:
In 1964, record producer Bernard Stollman founded ESP Disk with the motto “The Artists Alone Decide.” Over the next ten years, Stollman’s label secured legendary status, releasing a stream of avant-garde jazz, rock, punk and folk that consistently challenged the definition of what it meant to be avant-garde. It did so by bravely embodying its motto and embracing its instincts.
Now seen as a fixture at the center of the volatile musical period of the sixties and seventies, in 1974 the label shut down under threat of bankruptcy. Then, five years ago Stollman resurrected the label and stepped into the fray of a fragmenting record industry nothing like what existed forty years ago.
At the time, Stollman warned to expect surprises. Over the ensuing five years he has delivered on that promise, not only reissuing a host of classic ESP works, as well as gems culled from the vaults, but also reclaiming the mantel of a label at the forefront of experimentation that thrives on taking risks.
From expansive retrospectives like the recently released Charlie Parker Boxset, to the sprawling punk-electronica-jazz explosion Barnacled, to the frenetic free-metal race Solar Forge, one never knows what will appear next.
Once again, ESP has become synonymous with the unexpected. Speaking recently with Mr. Stollman about the re-evolution of ESP, it became clear why.