In another of an intermittent series of posts about past acquaintances of mine who are now Doing Great Things, I happened to think the other day about Darius Van Arman. Darius and I went to the University of Virginia at around the same time, and primarily bumped into each other in the basement of Peabody Hall, where all the University publications were at that time. I was getting a poetry magazine called Rag & Bone off the ground; he was working on a music and creative magazine called 3.7. I publicly disclaimed some things the magazine did (spending lots of money on heavy cover stock, lookalike black covers, extremely goth fiction and illustration, heavy reliance on distorting type on a path in Quark—the latter was a Darius trademark) and privately admired the magazine’s confidence in its own aesthetic and their ability to get interviews with musicians and artists, a real differentiator between the magazine and anything else that was going on.
I bumped into Darius a little while after graduation. He was still living in Charlottesville but was working on starting a label, which he was going to call Jagjaguwar.
This week I decided to search for Jagjaguwar and see what I could find. What I found was: Jagjaguwar is the home of bands like Okkervil River, Black Mountain, Bon Iver, Wolf Parade side project Sunset Rubdown, and Ladyhawk. They’s got a good nationwide scope through a distribution deal with indie label Secretly Canadian. Heck, I’ve been listening to Jagjaguwar cuts on the KEXP podcasts for a year or more without knowing it. Darius has made it… well, not big, but he’s made something real without compromising his credibility. Heck, he even did an NPR interview with ex-Sleater Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein. Back in the Hook, that would have gone the other way around.