Richmond, Virginia label Citrus City just capped off a huge sophomore year with two nights of anniversary concerts over the past consecutive Friday nights. Before the first night of music, our writer Max Wiggins had the chance to sit down with Citrus City co-founder Manny Lemus to talk upcoming releases, the history of Citrus City, and their relationship to other local labels. Check out the Q&A, as well as photo coverage of both nights by Drew Scott below.
Max Wiggins: I know you are just half of Citrus City, so an easy place to start, I guess, is talking about you and the other co-founder, Rene’s roles.
Manny Lemus: Everything became our roles kind of just through each of our interests. Rene’s mostly, is production-wise, with the tapes. You know, like the audio and technical aspect of it. When the bands first send us the wav. files, he is the first one to say, “Okay it’s going to need this, this, and this.” And then my side is more like finding the bands, more of just all the PR work and promotional stuff. He does a lot with the actual tapes. He’s the one who will actually hang out in the kitchen for two or three hours working. If there’s a deadline coming up, he’s the one to sit down and be like, “Okay let me get these hundred tapes done.” How it works is we make one master tape that sounds perfect. Sometimes we have to go through five blank tapes to get no hiss here or stop here to make the master. I love all the stuff we put out, but having to hear it constantly, over and over…..the whole tape through. Yeah, Rene handles a lot of the actual physicals.
You had mentioned a little earlier about “Tour Tapes” that you all had been making. What are those?
So, the last one we did was with Lance Bangs and Sports Coach when we went on tour. They each had some new demos they were working on, so we just made it just to sell. It’s like a nice little collectible merch that we could have. I don’t know, we are just really into the novelty that a tape can have. We only made 50 and it sold out. The people that have it are us, the bands, and those fifty people. And it’s crazy because that tape keeps popping up; getting posted a bunch of places.
Okay, very cool! I know Richmond is a town saturated with small labels, so I was hoping you could talk a little bit about the relationship you have with some of them. I know you have worked with Crystal Pistol before, and had mentioned Danger Collective.
I respect a lot of the other people. I look at them as everyday colleagues, we are all running around the same area for the same reasons. We just did the Camp Howard thing with Crystal Pistol. There is no deep resentment around or anything. Like, it’s sort of a collective, everybody is down to help each other out at the end of the day. We will have some shows coming up with Crystal Pistol, we talked to Saw Black, we just tossed around ideas. But you know at the end of the day, for me per say, I want to be the one on top. At the end of the day, each of us is our own entity. We moved to Richmond. Everybody in Richmond likes what’s going on and we aren’t from Richmond, so we want to represent what’s going on in the state as a whole, not just the town. No disrespect to anybody else, but we already have like ten labels around that are all about the Richmond aspect of it.
Well, I know you worked with Dream Wave from Nashville and Born Idiot from France, so how do they fit in aesthetically and sonically?
We don’t really take into account where a lot of people are from. It’s just more that we like them and less like, “Oh you happen to be from here or here.” We just really like the music first. Dream Wave I just stumbled onto online. He helped us out with some shows in Nashville, and now he’s going to school in Hampton, so he is going to be playing some more shows in Richmond and stuff. Born Idiot was just some homies I met online and they sent over some music. Then it was like, “These songs are really good, you want to put it on tape?” And they were cool with it. Then we just kept up after that.
Do you usually find new bands to work with by them contacting you like that, or do you usually have to do some digging to find stuff you like?
People send me stuff, and there hasn’t been anything really yet where it’s been, “Wow, I need to do this right now.” It’s just mostly me and Rene digging deep. Do they own a tape? That way we can buy it and own it, and if not, we can always just pitch the idea to them and see if they want to.
Well, since this is in anticipation of the anniversary shows, let’s talk about last year’s Strange Matter show, that was insane.
Last year was a really good show. It sort of caught me off guard because I didn’t think we were that big or known yet. The first friends we made were Drewby (Scott), Nic (Perea of Camp Howard), and all the people that were connected with them. The first shows are great because it was Camp Howard and Collin Thibodeauxx, and every time they play together a shit ton of people would come out. Me and Rene were kind of dubbing it the dream team. Then, that show I didn’t expect that many people to come out, we had been kind of saying that all these shows were like a private party, they just happen to be public. All the bands we work with are our friends, or at least there is that relationship established. That was one where everybody playing was my really good friend and it was a huge party for us.
The last thing I wanted to hit was new releases, so is there anything you have planned that you can tell us about?
The big headache that I am super relieved to be coming out is The Camp Howard tape (a reissue of their self-titled album), or at least our new variant. We were planning on getting these tapes out to them for this last tour that they just went on. But I’m glad it’s coming out. It’s going to be green glitter tapes, we did an exclusive pressing so you can only get it from us or the band. It’s just celebrating that a lot of people outside of Richmond really slept on this one, so it’s giving them a second chance to get it. After some problems with the first release, I talked to Nic and was like, “If you don’t mind, it’s going to take a while. We have all this other stuff, but we can do it again, right this time.”
Article by Max Wiggins
Photos by Drew Scott