There are magical times and places when in music history, points both chronological and geographical where everything came together to birth first a scene, then a movement. We're talking about times like the early '80s when the Sunset Strip birthed hair metal, or when Seattle and Athens, Ga., polarized alternative music in the '90s.
No man believes more in the possibly that such an audiotastic Shangri-La is possible right here and now in Houston than Matt Ellis, president of Mia Kat Empire Records.
"I've always been inspired by scenes such as D.C., Seattle, Olympia, and Athens," says Ellis.
"I love the idea of people creating something bigger than themselves and forming a community that would not only promote one band but would help many bands receive the recognition they deserve. It is a collectivism that was prevalent in many early independent music scenes."
Mia Kat started as a family business in 2006, but had been kicking around in the heads of its founders for years before. In addition to Ellis, his wife Amanda and his brother Ben co-own the label, doing Web work, bookkeeping and public relations.
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All three are musicians with undeniable pedigrees. Matt Ellis has played in various Houston bands for 15 years; Amanda played bass for Red Car Collision and drums for Nautical Mile; and Ben is the lead singer and bassist for Hollywood Black, who are rising rapidly through the ranks of Houston's music scene.
The overall goal of Mia Kat is to create an environment in Houston where bands don't feel the need to leave the city in order to achieve success. Too often we have watched some of our better acts head to Austin or points further out when they felt that they'd done all they could do locally.
"We are looking for bands with originality and most importantly bands who are interested in building a community in the Houston music scene," says Matt Ellis. "As far as what we do for the bands, it varies by situation, but we are committed to being artist-friendly."
Mia Kat has several releases on the horizon, particularly the highly anticipated Quite Some Time from The Ride Home. They will be teaming up with Murkville Music to release the latest listenlisten vinyl album, Dog, and plan to have the third installment of their compilation series early next year.