For a couple of years, Subterranean A was one of D.C.’s best-curated DIY venues. Or at least that’s the case I made in a 2012 story I wrote for Washington City Paper, which ran not long before the basement space hosted its last official show. Now, Subterranean A lives once more—but through a new record label, 1432 R, which borrows its name from the venue’s old address.
DJ and producer Sami Yenigun is one of the label’s founders. He and former Subterranean A residents Eric Tilden, Joyce Lim, and friend Dawit Eklund—who makes music with Yenigun as aLamont—started the imprint as a means “to explore our own sound,” Yenigun writes in an email. “Joyce, Eric, and I started saving up money, Dawit started getting crazy in the lab, and it all took off from there.”
But the label’s debut release—heard for the first time on the Fader this week—comes from an artist with no official tie to Subterranean A. He’s an Ethiopia-based producer named Mikael Seifu, and he’s a good pal of Eklund, Yenigun writes. “Dawit and I have been listening to his stuff for a while now, and when the label started up, we just knew we had to get him on board. He’s one of these people who has been honing his craft for years, but has never released any of it.”
Eklund’s music was going to start off the label, but “his laptop lost a fight to a glass of red wine,” Yenigun writes. So Seifu it was. Not that it was a tough choice, Yenigun points out. “We plan on putting out a lot of Mik’s work,” he writes, “and [we feel] really lucky to have him start us off.” (Seifu’s 4-song EP, “Yarada Lij,” drops July 1, and it’s available for preorder now.) Beyond that, the label plans to dabble in techno, house, more “Ethiopian electronic,” as Seifu calls it—and whatever else its founders feel like.
Given Subterranean A’s short stint as a low-key spot to see lesser-known electronic music, 1432 R serves as an homage, of sorts. But it won’t necessarily be as format-fluid as the basement haunt, which also booked indie rock and underground comedy. “For me, Subterranean A was a place where music was free to roam into whatever territory it pleased,” Yenigun writes. “1432 R is its own thing completely, and will likely focus more on electronic and dance music than Sub A did… But it’s an important place to us, and the name reflects that.”