For nearly two decades, Flatspot Records has been at the forefront of championing the culture of hardcore music. Initially bridging the enclaves of the Baltimore to Brooklyn hardcore scene, the label took shape in 2004 when founder Che Figueroa felt compelled to become a participant - opting to get to work to further propel the sound and the culture that inspired him.
Some years later, he would find an ally in musician and hardcore lifer, Ricky Singh. Together, the two have embraced their unwavering love for the sound and doubling down on their commitment to the bands they support. Cultivating a roster of artists under the Flatspot banner that are intent on moving the culture forward, the label has become synonymous with the sound and celebrated both foreign and abroad for their genuine approach.
What sets Flatspot apart from the pack as the subculture of hardcore flourishes is the level of authenticity that resonates in everything that bears the label name. Rather than tap into and inevitably dilute the success of one band by putting out similar artists, the label has assembled a vibrant, versatile, varied aggregate of talent that ranges from the powerviolence of Zulu to punk-driven power of Scowl to relentless beatdown of Australian sensation Speed - framing a brilliant snapshot of the diversity of hardcore with same common denominator - authenticity.
The label recently curated an impressive showcase of their roster with the unveiling of what has the makings of an annual congregation in Flatspot World in Brooklyn, NY. Assembling a run of show that had international implications and generational reach, the 10-band bill framed the robust health of the genre while underscoring the irrefutable reputation of the label.
While hardcore might be en vogue, for the duo at the helm of Flatspot Records, hardcore is far more than the current wave. Label partner Ricky Singh spoke about the significance of Flatspot World and how the label is making an important contribution to the culture of hardcore is only just beginning.
One of our editorial team members was out at the show and he text me this during Hangman's set, "This feels like one of those shows that’ll be looked back on in 20 years as legendary.” What kind of feeling did you get from seeing a legendary show happen in real time?
Singh - Flatspot World was a very special event. The energy was definitely present and it was great to see such a powerful vibe in that room. All the bands had amazing sets and everyone seemed psyched on it.
Flatspot is approaching two decades in the game and had never put on a showcase like this until now. What prompted the decision to execute Flatspot World?
Singh - We’ve done a few things like a Flatspot Showcase last year in LA and Che has done Disturbin’ The Peace in Baltimore for the past 2 years which have been amazing. I wanted to bring something to NYC that included many of our bands. The roster is at such a special place right now that it just felt like the perfect time to execute something like this.
What were the moments that you appreciated the most from the showcase as a fan? If this wasn’t your label, if these weren’t the bands you signed - what were the highlights that hit you as a fan?
Singh - All the sets felt very special to me but 3 that stood out were Raw Brigade, King Nine, and Speed. Those were some of the best reactions I’ve seen those bands get and that was a great feeling.
Hardcore is really proliferating at a rapid clip. Bands like Speed and Scowl are introducing new fans, outside the core community, to the culture and the sound. Is there any fear that as popularity grows, the product will become diluted?
Singh - At the end of the day, if real people are creating real music I don’t feel there will be dilution. If more people are listening / going to shows and it’s helping bands on tour, labels put out music, promoters not have to come out of pocket, etc I do not see that as a bad thing. Some people will stay and some will go - that will remain the same. I hope that kids connect with the music on a deep level and it can change their lives like it did ours.
Flatspot has become synonymous with hardcore. There is an expectation that people have when they see Flatspot is putting out a record or Flatspot signed a band. What have been the common denominators for you in maintaining the integrity of your label?
Singh - The music always comes first and it is incredibly important to us that what we’re delivering is something that we feel is great. It’s also important to us to see that the bands we involve ourselves with are active in there respective scenes as well.
People often talk about the community of hardcore. Flatspot really backed that up with initiatives like The Extermination compilation series. How vital has that been for you as a label and why was it important to revive a model that most other labels have abandoned?
Singh- Doing a compilation is definitely not an easy task. With that said, it is an incredibly rewarding effort as it was a pivotal part of shaping Che & I’s tastes growing up. Compilations like Where The Wild Things Are, The Way It Is, Anti-Matter, Punk-O-Rama were important snapshots into underground music when they came out. We are trying to continue that essence with The Extermination series.
We’re talking about the good stuff here but I’d have to imagine that in nearly twenty years, there were some scary situations. After such a high like Flatspot World, what were some of the lean times that made this victory especially sweet?
Singh - Life will always throw you curveballs, but the reality is you need to get back up and move stronger and wiser. We look at those setbacks as learning experiences and fuel to do better moving forward.
That word… legendary. Did you ever think when you started this label that you would be at this point in your professional career and what are some of long-term goals tied to the legacy of Flatspot?
Singh - Che started this label in 2004 and I joined in with him in 2012. I don’t think either of us expected the longevity of the label to last this long but it feels great to remain a relevant label in 2023. We still look at this as just the beginning.
See the comprehensive photo gallery of FLATSPOT WORLD from Rebeca Lader below.