The shift from throwing parties to releasing music, however, isn’t entirely due to COVID-19.
Jeremy Bispo, Founder & Executive Producer of As You Like It, traces the label’s beginnings to his best friend, Johnny Igaz, who years ago had challenged Bispo to launch the label as a way of leveraging his relationships and connecting local artists to the broader music community. Igaz later died in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in December 2016. Andy Kershaw—Bispo’s partner at As You Like It — also lost his wife to the fire.
“We were all feeling motivated for our fallen friends and our community,” said Bispo. “We wanted to give a new space to create, and for Bay Area artists to be artists.”
Over the years, As You Like It has hosted parties at Monarch, Public Works, and other Bay Area clubs and underground venues, featuring local and internationally-acclaimed artists, including The Blessed Madonna (formerly The Black Madonna), Bicep, Peggy Gou, DJ Koze, and Nicolas Jaar.
But before shelter-in-place started in March, As You Like It had already planned to scale back events and focus on developing its new record label.
The idea was to help fill a void, according to Bispo, because resources for budding artists are scant here. In contrast to Los Angeles, New York, and other cities, San Francisco doesn’t just have more expensive rent: it also has less venues and labels. So even though people grow up “idolizing the Bay” and flock here from across the country, artists often end up pursuing opportunities elsewhere.
“San Francisco is the place where you can find the space to contribute if you put in the time. The thing we don’t have that other cities have is the ability to stick around, support yourself, and be an artist.”
Bispo hopes to help change that with a new label focused on Bay Area artists. In addition to the house, techno, and diverse dance music fans have come to expect from As You Like It events, the label will venture into downtempo, ambient, and other territory beyond dance music.
“I want it to be an open platform that’s truly representative of the Bay Area,” said Bispo. “I don’t want to be boxed in.”
As You Like It has releases lined up through 2021, featuring local artists and remixes by Prins Thomas, Donato Dozzy, and Jensen Interceptor. The next release will be a compilation of Black artists in the Bay Area, and the label plans to donate its portion of the proceeds to a local social justice organization.
With live events largely canceled, As You Like It has partnered with Fault Radio on a monthly live stream series called “Coast to Coast,” spotlighting DJ talent from across the U.S. Fault Radio will also host the label’s launch party, celebrating its first release — Ascent/Descent EP by Christina Chatfield — on Sunday, November 29th.
As You Like It Recordings Launch Party: Ascent / Descent EP Release
Christina Chatfield (live)
Tin Man [DJ Set]