You'd think owning a record store would be a convenient avenue for starting your own record label, but you really don't hear about it that often. One guy who is, though, is Heights Vinyl's Craig Brown.
With Electric Attitude's release party Saturday night at House of Blues for their first LP, Skintight & Solid Gold, the HPMA-nominated pop-funk group officially becomes the first artist on Brown's Gr8 Heights records. Brown pressed 1,000 copies of Skintight, and it's a natural fit: Electric Attitude had done several in-stores on Heights Vinyl's "High Noon" stage, including one on opening day.
For now, Gr8-Heights has a roster of one. Brown He says he was looking at another band before Electric Attitude, but they moved out of town or split up (or both). He won't mention who it is, he says, because "I don't know what they're planning on doing, and I don't want to make it sound like they're flaking out or anything."
Starting his own label is the second phase of Brown's three-point plan, stemming from his graphic-design background (check out the above logo) and previous job as a creative director for Hewlett-Packard and other companies, where he was in charge of what he calls "user experience." He does imagine Gr8-Heights giving exposure to both new discoveries and "hidden gems," though.
Other than that, Brown is coy about what the third stage of his plan is, but Phase 1 seems to be a success.
Since Heights Vinyl opened in late 2011, "I couldn't have expected anything more," Brown says, mentioning that he expanded by 800 square feet over the July 4 holiday. The store was even recently featured in an issue of British Airways' in-flight magazine.
"If you fly into Houston on a British Airways flight, you see the MFAH, the Rothko Chapel and you see Heights Vinyl," he says. "We've got a lot of really good outside exposure as well."
Brown did let slip one little hint about his possible larger objective, though.
"I want to show the diversity of Houston music a lot," he says. "I have a large range of music, and there's a greater common goal to elevate Houston a little bit.
"When you look at the inner labels for our vinyl, and on the outer jackets, it very prominently says Houston, Texas," Brown adds. "We're really trying to push this whole idea [against] this outside perception, that Houston is not the same Houston it was 15-20 years ago."
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Electric Attitude releases Skintight & Solid Gold Saturday at House of Blues' Bronze Peacock Room, 1204 Caroline. Nick Greer & the G's and Spain Colored Orange open; doors open at 8 p.m. First 100 people get a free copy of the new LP.