We had the good fortune of connecting with Stu Pope and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stu, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
The vision behind Hypnotic Bridge Records is to help sustain the momentum of the music being made today by artists with a psychedelic sound and message.
I think a psychedelic mindset leads to a deeper understanding that everything is connected and that we must act together as a global community to realize that connection, with love for all. The kind of bands and songs Hypnotic Bridge is promoting are very much in tune with this idea.
Although we started out releasing records by Los Angeles-based bands, as the label gained interest beyond Southern California, musicians from around the world began reaching out with their interpretations of psychedelic music. Musicians from across the US and Canada, as well as the UK and Europe, have worked with Hypnotic Bridge to bring the world a soundtrack to a more enlightened future.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
What sets Hypnotic Bridge apart from many businesses is that the label’s vision focuses on serving the bands and the fans rather than making money. Our definition of success is helping today’s most promising psychedelic bands get more of the attention and support we believe they deserve while spreading the appeal of psychedelic music.
Our business model is intentionally quixotic as it limits our product to 7-inch, vinyl, 45-rpm singles: physical artifacts that keep things real in an era of invisible, streaming music. We feel this brings back the dynamic of bands releasing singles in between album releases, which helps them keep the momentum of their music viable by putting new records in the hands of their fans (and in-the-know DJs) on a more consistent basis. If we sell all of our product, we can break even and keep the project going, but the overarching goal isn’t financial. It’s a labor or love.
It’s my personal belief that a continuing interest in new artists, new music, and new ideas of all sorts keeps us engaged and relevant, no matter what our age. In a very real sense, it keeps us young, as we find ourselves immersed in the changes that are taking place in the world around us. I get very excited when I hear contemporary bands creating great new songs that reflect the psychedelic influences in their lives – from art, films, books, and personal experiences to the music of other bands that inspire them.
We’re very proud of the stellar reviews Hypnotic Bridge singles often receive in the types of magazines and online music sites that concentrate on new music, especially indie and psychedelic bands. The first Hypnotic Bridge single was released in early 2016, and since that time we’ve pressed 37 other records. Like the bands we support, the label’s recognition and reputation has grown with each new release, and we’re poised to make 2022 one of our best years to date.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Los Angeles is the epicenter of the entertainment business, so bands from around the world come to L.A. to make their music—and their name.
When friends visit Hypnotic Bridge HQ in Sierra Madre, just a few miles northeast of downtown L.A., we typically start with an introduction to the Green Room—the studio that serves as the nexus for local bands to hang out, discuss ideas, and listen to interesting music, old and new (including upcoming, unreleased Hypnotic Bridge singles).
A classic, rebuilt 1976 Marantz receiver powers a set of 1972 Bang & Olufsen BeoVox 5700 speakers that make everything sound great, from freshly recorded demos to obscure vinyl artifacts. Psychedelic posters from 1960s San Francisco grace the walls, while the pool just outside the door beckons on balmy Southern California afternoons.
The music scene in L.A. moved eastward some years ago, so driving to our favorite venues is usually quite convenient. We see our favorite local bands at clubs such as Zebulon in Frogtown (terrific Mexican food next door at Salazar), Gold Diggers in Hollywood, and The Lodge Room in Highland Park (which has a great restaurant, Checker Hall, attached). Mohawk Bend on Sunset in Echo Park serves as one of our favorite watering holes, serving the best beer, wine and spirits California has to offer.
Of course, there’s more to life than psychedelic music, or so we’ve heard, so we also make sure to visit the legendary beaches of Southern California, from El Matador and Zuma in Malibu down to the beaches of Manhattan, Hermosa, Redondo, and beyond.
Some of California’s best breweries can be found in the beach cities, too, so trips to Beachwood in Long Beach, Smog City in Torrance, and El Segundo in (where else?) El Segundo are typically on the agenda.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to give a shoutout to the late, great Deram Records, a subsidiary label of Decca that was home to some of the best psychedelic bands in Britain during the 1960s and ’70s. By championing the psych-pop sounds of their day, Deram is a label that continually inspires Hypnotic Bridge.
The musicians that pioneered the sounds that resonate so deeply with Hypnotic Bridge bands include The Byrds, The Beatles, The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, and The Thirteenth Floor Elevators—but the list goes on almost endlessly.
As for the bigger concept of psychedelia and the mystical mindset it engenders, books that point (and sustain) the way include the works of Plato, Plotinus, and Meister Eckhart, as well as the classics of non-duality and Advaita Vedanta, including Ashtavakra Samhita, Yoga Vasishta, and the Kathopanishad.
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