Local Listen – Free People Records Curates Community with Compilation Album

This is an entry in an ongoing series for 303 Magazine, which will provide a range of local album reviews. It is our intention to highlight the talents of local musicians, whether veterans to the industry or newcomers. Like the bands, the album can be fresh or something we just haven’t had the power to take off repeat in the past few months. Check out previous entries in the series here.

Free Music for Free People was created in 2013 to inspire collaboration and foster community. Founded nearly seven years ago by a 17-year-old Mona Magno—now of Monalicious—the media organization is dedicated to helping musicians thrive through organizing meet-ups, facilitating workshops and helping with promotion. Free Music for Free People houses two branches of media creation that are designed to further their creative mission — FreePeopleTV, which serves the organization’s video production needs, and the brand-new Free People Records, a boutique record label. In this spirit of collaboration and community, it is appropriate that the label’s inaugural release is a compilation album, featuring 10 local musicians from every corner of Denver’s music scene.Through Free People Records, Magno hopes to help musicians get exposure and let their talents shine. “I hope that more things, more communities and collectives are inspired,” she explained. “I think that it’s now more important than ever, that people come together and know that they’re not alone and know that that they could do amazing things, brilliant things, if they set their mind to it and find people who feel strongly about the same things.”

Anthony Ruptak opens the album with “Real Man,” a song off his December 2018 album, A Place That Never Changes. The guitar-heavy tune’s background has roots in community collaboration, making it the perfect thematic introductory track for the record label’s debut. The rest of the track list includes “Urban Bee,” from psychedelic DJ duo Bun Bun, “The Alchemist,” off of R&B visionary Kid Astronaut’s recent 2019 EP and “Left to Die,” from multi-instrumentalist Felix Ayodele’s debut album, Walking Distance. Also featured on the album is Monalicious’ recent debut single, “All Caught Up.” The compilation album dips its toes in so many different parts of the local music scene, truly showcasing the diversity and versatility of Denver’s musicians. By pairing releases from fresher-faced artists like Reed Fox with songs from well-established performers like The Copper Children, artists get the kind of exposure Free People Records strives for in their mission to promote talent. 

Unlike traditional album releases, this record is available through limited edition trading cards which feature artwork of each of the 10 musicians done by artist Franki Zinke. This meticulously designed distribution method challenges the way we think about how media consumption typically works.With this first album release, Free People Records has taken their first steps towards establishing themselves in the Denver music community as an open and inclusive resource for local musicians looking for direction and a community to call home. Magno described her hopes for the future of the label. “In an oversaturated market, it can be hard to stand out,” she said. “Free People Records is striving to innovate new and exciting ways to engage with music. It’s been important to me since the beginning that no matter what we do, we will focus on inspiring creativity and collaboration.”

Free People Records Compilation, Vol. 1 (with trading cards) is available for purchase on Free People Records. You can also listen on Spotify. Keep up with Free Music for Free People on Instagram and Facebook.

All photos by Franki Zinke.