Interview With:

Dave Sanford

Distiller Promo

Tell us a bit about the career path that led to where you are now.

My career started in college radio at WTUL in New Orleans where I was the MD/PD. I was booking shows and working in a record store while I was in school without a great plan of what would happen next. I was in the right place at the right time and the next thing I knew I was in NY working for Relativity Records. The roster was crazy and included Eazy-E, Fat Joe, The Beatnuts, Brutal Truth, Death, and Godflesh amongst others. I hustled my butt off and a few years later I launched The No Life Record Shop in LA with Chuck Arnold which was an iconic if short lived indie shop in Hollywood founded on the premise that LA needed a record store that would order enough Built to Spill LPs to keep them in stock. That was a really fun ride that lasted about 24 months. The next move was launching the SPECTRE Entertainment Group which did licensing, street marketing and radio promotion and was a place where I was fortunate to be able to work with great people like Matthew Semancik, Jessica Weber, Dan Yocom, Hannah Carlen, Laura Jellum, George Corona, Graham MacRae and so many others who have made a huge impact on the Non-Commercial Radio World. I’ve been running Distiller Promo for 12 years now and love being able to work with so many labels and artists that I love without having to manage a large company and staff as I did in the past.

What is your favorite experience you’ve had in your career? Perhaps a musical idol you got to meet? A festival you were able to attend? A project you were involved with promoting?

I can narrow it down to a few things. Hanging out with Doug Martsch in a hotel room in Vancouver BC talking about whether or not I should sell the record shop, getting to watch Spiritualized sound check to an empty El Rey Theater and then transporting Jason to KBLT (where I was the MD) for his interview, The OPB Live Session with Charles Bradley where he made the whole room cry and countless sessions and hangs with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and Thievery Corporation over the years. I also loved all the events I got to produce at SXSW and CMJ conventions where I got to meet so many folks in person.

What have been some challenges (and perhaps any solutions to them) you’ve faced promoting music during this pandemic?

We’ve used DISCO for digital servicing for quite some time so I feel like we were well positioned to adapt to the problems of getting music to people and I think radio did a great job of embracing digital servicing as we went through that transition. The biggest challenges that we are facing are coordinating details and technology related to remote sessions and interviews and getting new music to stand out when people don’t get to discover and connect with bands by seeing them live.

What band/artist or style of music outside the realm of college/community radio would people be most intrigued to hear you love?

I listen to so many different types of music that this is a tough one. I do enjoy pop music like Travis Scott, Post Malone and Taylor Swift to name a few in addition to all of the more left of center acts we work with. I doubt anyone reading this knows that about me.

What job do you think you would have if you weren’t in this industry?

I’d be a teacher. In my spare time I coach youth and HS lacrosse and love mentoring the youth of today.

What destination would you most like to visit and why?

Outside of the US I am not well traveled so this could really be more of a Top 10 for me. I want to go to Israel a lot. I have friends and family there and being Jewish is an important part of my identity.

You just won 10 million dollars. What are you going to do with it?

I wouldn’t go nuts with it. I’d give half of it to people who need it more than I do or a charity that could help me distribute it. I’d make the proper investments to insure that I was secure for the rest of my life and I’d probably buy myself a classic car and a fancy watch. I’d do some nice things for people I love. I’d also keep doing what I’m doing, because I really enjoy doing this every day!

Entertainment Time: What is/are your current favorite TV obsession(s)?

Attack on Titan, The Queen’s Gambit, Sportscenter, Cobra Kai, The Cost of Winning, The Undoing, and Friday Night Lights.

What’s a great movie (new or old) you’ve watched recently?

The Trial of The Chicago 7 was great. I haven’t been watching too many recently.

What is your current favorite album?

This is a tough one but I think my current favorite album is probably Eric Hilton’s “The Impossible Silence”. I meditate a ton and the record is perfect for that.

Do you (or did you when dining out was safer) have a favorite restaurant in town to take out-of-town guests to?

My spot is definitely Shalom Y’All. It is Israeli Street Food and it is amazing.

You’re stranded on a desert island (or in your own home!) What five well known people (dead or alive) would you like to have there with you?

AOC, Sharon Jones, Miles Davis, Taylor Swift and Jim Brown.