Listen to local acts TRiBE and PZA PRTY, and one might not hear much resemblance, but Stray Soul Entertainment does. TRiBE, a low-fi hip-hop group, and PZA PRTY, an experimental trip-hop duo, were both signed by Stray Soul for their alternative styles.
The Columbus-based record label prides itself on highlighting artists with sounds distinctly alternative to mainstream music. A taste for the unusual and unexpected unifies the Stray Soul roster.
“I don’t want anybody to fall into a comfort zone with Stray Soul,” said label co-founder Daniel Meredith. “We want to continue to find those people who are unapologetically themselves.”
Meredith, who handles most design work for Stray Soul, founded the label with Isaiah Boyd in April, as an expansion of local designer Logan Buehrer’s Stray Soul USA clothing company. Meredith described the label as an opportunity to expand the brand and ideals of Stray Soul USA into entertainment, as both organizations emphasize going against the norm.
Initially, the label served as a more formal way to manage TRiBE, Meredith said. Cole Silberman, a third-year in marketing, joined as a late-coming founder a few months later to handle marketing for Stray Soul.
Each staff member of the label takes on a specific job, allowing it to cover a broad spectrum of services, Silberman said. The label distributes its artists’ music digitally in addition to assisting with tasks such as website design, music videos and booking shows.
“We take a lot of the business sides and creative aspects of how they’re going to be presented to the public, and we let them take care of making the right groove and the right sound,” Silberman said.
Meredith said that although Stray Soul helps with presentation, it encourages artists to take part in creative decisions.
“The roles are a little back and forth,” Meredith said. “At the core of it, we really are all artists, so it’s like we all kind of have our own vision and we’re all constantly working together to make that happen.”
Stray Soul’s commitment to variety shows in the label’s signed artists. The current roster of PZA PRTY and TRiBE differ noticeably and artists involved in shows hosted by Stray Soul range even broader in style, sometimes branching into alternative rock and punk.
Silberman said the artists have similar motives, describing both PZA PRTY and TRiBE’s sound as a “confusing, uncomfortable symphony” that gradually grows on listeners. He said the label doesn’t care as much about genre as it does innovation.
“I wouldn’t say anything is cemented with Stray Soul Entertainment as of yet except that we’re searching for the dopest music that you can find in Columbus right now,” Silberman said.
PZA PRTY released “Boigus,” its first album with Stray Soul, in September. Band member David Zuppo said Stray Soul has helped the group immensely, taking care of distribution and booking almost all of the groups’ shows since August.
Zuppo said working with Stray Soul has provided the group with opportunities to develop without restriction.
“They’re really good with just listening to what we want and making it about us because they trust us,” Zuppo said. “They don’t put any expectations on us at all … as far as the music or the content that we make.”
Right now, Stray Soul has maintained a small roster, with only two artists. Silberman said the label is always looking for new talent, but the main focus is progressing and exposing new audiences to its artists.
“It’s a forever-developing label,” Silberman said. “We just love the idea that music can move people and evoke emotions that no one can explain.”