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Digital Sampler: Sasha Barr, Art Director at Sub Pop Records
Author: yasi
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Sasha Barr

Welcome to Altamont's Digital Sampler, our new recurring series where we tap a new person every week to provide us with a mix of their favorite jams.

As 1/3 of the art department at storied Seattle record label Sub Pop, designer and illustrator Sasha Barr has probably had a hand in a lot of the imagery around your favorite bands on the label. The Tennessee native is also the art director at Amigos Skateboards and an avid skater himself, so he seemed like a perfect choice to tap for our ongoing Digital Sampler series (and a good way to hint at our forthcoming Sub Pop collaboration).

We asked Sasha some questions about his mix, and then realized we didn't need him to answer them, since he already sent his mix in with a full intro AND write-up explaining each song choice, because he is not only a talented artist but also a savvy wordsmith who may or may not be after my job:

subpop

It's nothing new for skaters to talk about how the music in skate videos influenced their musical tastes, and I'm certainly no exception. As a kid growing up in suburban TN (before the internet, even), I picked up many a band from the skate videos I watched on repeat, most of whom I still listen to today. Fast forward twenty years I find myself working in music, 8 years deep as an art director at Sub Pop Records, incredibly thankful for all the music I picked up from my skate video collection. Sub Pop's been around for going on 27 years, from the grunge years to modern times, and has been entwined with skateboarding since its inception. Their music has been as big a part of my life as skateboarding, so when I was asked to make this mix it wasn't hard to pick out my favorite tracks (and parts) from my time as a skater. I originally wanted to do these in chronological order, but I ended up going with an order that made more sense to my ears. -Sasha Barr

1. Supersuckers "Born with a Tail" The Sacrilegious Sounds of the Supersuckers | Transworld Uno - Montage 1
2. Sebadoh "Skull" Bakesale | Transworld Uno - Geoff Rowley & Tom Penny
Uno was my first skate video. Maybe that shows my age or something, but whatever. I started skating in 96, the same year Uno came out. I think I received the VHS as a birthday present, totally random. As anyone that skated before the internet knows, you watched what VHS tapes you had over and over and over again. You had every part and every song memorized. Anytime I hear a song from Uno I instantly think of that skater's part. It's just engrained. There's actually a handful of Sub Pop tracks in Uno, these two plus a couple Friends of Dean Martinez songs (not to mention the Presidents of the United States song for MJ, who are also from Seattle, and a Mudhoney song, though from a non Sub Pop release).

The Supersuckers song always stuck out to me (especially as a teenager) as being SO ridiculous. It's flat out hilarious, just listen to the lyrics. Goofy Satan worshipping at its best. Not to mention a super montage of all kinds of mid 90s heavy hitters.

The Sebadoh track is maybe one of their better known tracks(?), and for good reason. It's a solid song. On top of that it's the soundtrack to a great part from a young Rowley and Penny (Rowley with a couple killer high speed lines and that ridiculous double set attempt, Penny's effortless destruction of the San Diego chain to bank).

3. Dinosaur Jr "Yeah We Know" Bug | Toy Machine Jump Off A Building - Brian Anderson

We all know Dinosaur Jr and skateboarding go hand in hand. Most people refer to the Alien Workshop years, understandably so. Jump Off a Building came out a couple years after Uno, and quickly became another video I had on repeat. Welcome to Hell is a classic, for sure, but I always really liked the Jump Off a Building era of Toy Machine. Brian Anderson's part may not be his best remembered, but it's a good one and this Dinosaur Jr song always stuck out. Dinosaur Jr hasn't put out anything on Sub Pop but he's been a friend of the label for years and Sub Pop has put out his solo albums (which I was lucky enough to work on with J and art direct).

4. Mudhoney "If I Think" Superfuzz Bigmuff | Habitat Mosaic - Heath Kirchart & Steve Berra

I couldn't do a Sub Pop mix without including Mudhoney. Their songs have been used more than I realized in videos, but without a doubt Kirchart & Berra's part from Mosaic combines my favorite Mudhoney song with some incredible skating. It's a perfect song for someone like Kirchart (other than "Knights in White Satin", of course).

5. Dead Moon "Dead Moon Night" Echoes of the Past | Foundation Cataclysmic Abyss - Corey Duffel

Say what you will about Duffel, but this is a great part. Maybe his peak? This is a perfect song for Duffel, too. Originally released on Tombstone Records in 1989, Sub Pop put out a compilation from the NW underground stalwarts in 2006.

6. Comets on Fire "The Swallow's Eye" Avatar | Emerica Stay Gold - Jamie Tancowny

Stay Gold will stand the test of time. While Tancowny may not have become a household name, his part in Stay Gold was top notch. The psychedelic noise that was Comets on Fire fits in fantastically with the Emerica vibe.

7. No Age "Shed and Transcend" Everything in Between | Cosmic Vomit 2 - Bert Wootton

Wootton kills it. Super stylish and creative, just like Randy and Dean from No Age. Couldn't do a SP mix without including these homies (not to mention Altamont fam)!

8. The Shins "Caring is Creepy" Oh, Inverted World | Transworld Sight Unseen - Montage

Because Uno was my first video I've always had an allegiance to the Transworld vids (they're also pretty much always gold). I think I own every one of them on VHS or DVD. I picked up tons of music from these videos, and The Shins are no exception. Though they quickly became a household name, they were news to me when Sight Unseen came out in 2001 (Oh, Inverted World was their first LP, also released in 2001, and was one of a few releases that marked a new era in Sub Pop's catalog).

9. Dum Dum Girls "I Will Be" I Will Be | Krooked Krook2d - SF Streets section

Ok, this one is kind of random, but it's a solid song from Dee Dee and the Dum Dum Girls, as well as just an all around fun vid from the Krooked camp.

10. Band Of Horses "Is There a Ghost" Cease to Begin | Lakai Fully Flared - Guy Mariano

There are actually two Band of Horses songs in Guy's incredible comeback part from Fully Flared, but of the two "Is There a Ghost" is the stand out(the first song to an epic part everyone in skateboarding had been waiting for). It would be impossible to do this mix without including a song from this part.

11. The Album Leaf "The MP" One Day I'll Be on Time | Transworld In Bloom - 16MM Montage

And finally, The Album Leaf. This is another band I got in to thanks to Transworld, and one I still listen to on a regular basis(I have an Album Leaf playlist I listen to all the time while working). This track is from their last release pre-Sub Pop (they went on to put out 3 LPs with Sub Pop), but was my introduction to their music. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with them on their last SP album A Chorus of Storytellers.

 

You can see more of Sasha's work on his website.
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