Quixotic Records was a very small record label (sometimes termed a "microlabel") headquartered in New York City's fabled "East Village" (aka "The Lower East Side" and "Alphabet City") during the heady days of the early 1990s.
Quixotic was formed by the members of three East Village bands--Airlines, The Giant Mums, and Lid--after Mark Robinson (of Teen Beat Records) had kindly sent Fugazi's booklet on starting up your own record label. The concept of being completely independent of the corporate music world--free to create their music in their own way--was just too exciting not to give it a try.
The cool thing at the time was to press up 7" vinyl records, mail off most of the copies to fanzines and college radio stations, and then sit back and wait for the inevitable critical and public acclaim. In the late 80s vinyl records still dominated the record shelves in the major retailers, but the novel "compact disc" had been out for a bit (in these horrid giant cardboard packages called "longboxes") and it seemed like vinyl faced an uncertain future. So for the indie/underground, vinyl was something to cherish. Since the internet didn't really exist yet, fanzines were the only way to get the message out to places other than where you lived. College radio stations were the only places where an indie record was likely to be heard--at least in the US.
The band members collected the funds needed, and the following year the first true Quixotic records crept into existence: 500 copies each of "Eyedropper", a 4-song EP by The Giant Mums, "Ivy", an EP by Lid, and "Steady Goes", a single from Airlines (their third, the first two having been released by the Minneapolis label Susstones). Copies were sent far and wide, to music magazines and college radio stations. In due time, positive reviews were showing up, the radio stations were spinning the discs, and it seemed like the future was wide open.
Over the next few years, Quixotic would release records by seven other bands, including one from Berlin, Germany, another from London, England, and another from Portland, Oregon. The 7-inch vinyl singles and EPs were pressed up by United Record Pressing in Nashville, TN, in limited runs of 500 to 1,000 copies. Usually, the sleeves were printed (on 100% recycled paper) by an outfit called Barfefoot Press in Raleigh, North Carolina. The 10-inch vinyl was pressed by Rainbow Record Pressing in sunny California, who also did the jacket printing. The compact discs were manufactured by KAO Optical, formerly known as American Helix.
No two records really sounded very much alike, and certainly it wasn't any particular "scene" that was being "documented" in any meaningful way. The label operated with a philosophy which depended almost entirely upon divine intervention, and it became quickly clear that Quixotic was on the fast track to nowhere in particular.
Nonetheless, at the label's giddy height (this would be mid-1994), Quixotic's recordings could be heard by millions of radio listeners all over the world (thanks to the BBC), & publications large & small sung its praises. Lots of free stuff started showing up in Quixotic's mailbox--mostly crap, but hey, it was free, right? A steady stream of letters & cards from fans confirmed that joy was indeed being brought to peoples of the world. It really seemed like the dawning of a New Golden Age, one that would stretch out into eternity...
...oh, yes, but all things must pass, as they say, and as the original bands behind the label drifted apart, the energy and funding for the label diminished. The old East Village itself was also changing, as gentrification reared its ugly head as far east as Avenue C. Quixotic had been fun, but the business end of things was getting to be a major drag. The mighty show-biz engine keeps spinning 'round, and Quixotic's brief & conflicted flirtation with fame was quickly a thing of the past, ejected into the ether like so much smog...
Quixotic Records World-Wide ceased manufacturing records by 1996, and one year later the company was packed up and moved out of the East Village altogether. The dusty boxes of old records and tapes and files found their way to a barn in a small town in New Hampshire, in the region known locally as the "Upper Valley"...
Thanks for your interest in our obscure record label!
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Last Updated: January 23, 2023