Emily Alford

On counting beans and co-owning Barsuk Records.

Meet Emily Alford, who doesn't mind burning the midnight oil at Barsuk Records, the label she co-owns with her husband, Josh Rosenfeld and a handful of others.

Job title, duties:

Barsuk Records co-owner, chief bean counter, pep-squad leader.

How did you get your start in the music (under) world?

People sometimes ask me how to get into the music business. I don't know what to tell them, since for me it was sort of unintentional. In 2001, Josh [Barsuk Records co-founder] was running the label out of our house, and he needed some help with the bookkeeping and other details. Barsuk offered the chance to work long hours for no pay, and I just couldn't resist—so I quit my job at Amazon.com and started working at the label full time. I really thought it would be temporary, but then I got fascinated and never left.

How Barsuk was born:

At first, it was sort of an art project for Josh and Christopher [Possanza, Barsuk Records co-founder], who were both in the excellent band This Busy Monster. At some point, I lent them $500 to press the first Barsuk release, a 7-inch single called "Belated." When that first box of shiny black vinyl came back from the plant, we were all smitten. The transition from art project to obsession to legitimate business is all sort of a blur, now that we're working on our 62nd release.

Thing you love most about working with your husband:

Well, there are a million things that are great about it, but it's not for everyone. Josh and I both have workaholic tendencies, and when we didn't work together, we didn't see each other very much. Now, instead of being stuck at separate offices at 10 p.m., we're stuck in the same office for those late nights. Also, I think when you work closely with someone, you get to see them in a unique way, and you can appreciate aspects of them that you might not ever experience in a normal relationship. In a way, it's like having two separate marriages with the same person. And there's so much more to argue about!

Thing you could do without:

Talking about work anytime, anywhere—over dinner, at the grocery store. It follows us around. We have to make rules about it on vacation, because I am particularly undisciplined about turning it off.

Favorite part of your job:

We're not curing diseases or anything, but I do feel like we're trying hard to create something that's good and beneficial to the world in some small way, and that makes it easier to come to work every day.

Band you wish you'd signed:

That's a tough one. We have so many great bands and so much work to do that we can't spend too much time worrying about what other people are doing. I would love to work with Elvis Perkins, though. I think he's amazing.

Upcoming releases you're most excited about:

Our next two releases are from Menomena (Friend and Foe, Jan. 23) and Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter (Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul, Feb. 6). They are so different but both brilliant and inspiring, and I would buy both for all of my friends even if I didn't work at the label.

Your Top Five records to listen to while:

Closing the quarterly books at 2 a.m.: (Barsuk bands excluded, of course) David Bazan, Fewer Moving Parts; Jurassic 5, Quality Control; Sondre Lerche, Faces Down; Cat Power, The Greatest; Mike Doughty, Haughty Melodic.


Behind the Scene is a weekly peek at the Emerald City music world, shedding light on folks you won't see onstage but who make it all happen.

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