BUFU Records' Ben Katzman Talks Japanther, Jellyfish Brothers, and "Punk Rock Friendship"
Photo by Carlos Morales
Ben Katzman, a South Florida native now based in Boston, got his start in the music world at a young age, booking his friends' bands in high school. "We were 16 still, and we knew what it was like to have no one really care about you."
He recalls when he played a reunion show for his band Acidosis after returning from Beantown for the first time, and underage kids got kicked out of Churchill's before they had even played. It got him thinking about booking shows and creating a safe space for music fans of all ages.
Drawing inspiration from Ian MacKaye's Dischord Records, which the Minor Threat frontman started at 16, he decided to just do his own thing.
See also: Miami's 20 Best Punk Bands of All Time
A BUFU Records sculpture by Craig McManus.
Now, Katzman is the leader, along with right hand man Chris Collins, of the aptly titled record label, By Us For Us Records, or BUFU for short.
What makes the label special, and what permeates everything BUFU, is Katzman, Collins, and crew's relentlessly positive attitude. As he put it, he's "naturally stoked" about everything.
In August, BUFU will put out Brooklyn noise rock duo Japanther's newest record, Instant Money Magic, releasing a limited run of 300 vinyl copies.
"It's a huge honor for me to put it out, because Japanther is one of the first punk bands I listened to when I was like 13 or 14. All of the pictures there are of me playing shows when I was younger, I'm wearing my Japanther shirt. So it's a crazy honor."
The relationship came about when Katzman and fellow Boston staples Dylan Ewen and Chris Geller messaged Japanther's Ian Vanek and Matt Reilly about the possibility of opening for the duo's Boston stop.
Unfortunately, Vanek and Reilly had already found someone. But the guys then jokingly messaged the Japanther dudes, suggesting they should play a show at Katzman's house. They responded, "Yeah, we're down for the house show."
"Japanther ended up playing my basement," the BUFU boss says. "It was crazy. From then on out we kind of became their Boston connection."
As Japanther became friendly and appreciative of the BUFU crew, they decided to work together for a release. On this, Katzman notes, "Punk rock friendship, man."
The BUFU ethos is simple and organic. "I genuinely care, you know? These are all bands that I love, and with the label, I put out bands that I want other people to listen to because I love listening to them!"
And the motivation was the same for his first BUFU Fest, which showcased New England favorites, many of whom happened to be his good friends.
Discussing the recent release of Sentinels of the Space Age by Miami's Jellyfish Brothers, Katzman gushes about how fond he is of everything the J-Bros' Gregorio and Eduardo Alvarez do for the 305's blooming scene. "Those dudes hustle, man," he marvels.
"Through Audio Junkie, they do their best to bring a scene together and document that scene. When somebody records bands and documents them to make it sort of seem important, it becomes important. It gives people interested in the scene a chance to really look at it. I have huge respect for the Jellyfish Brothers for doing what they do, and I love their music as well."
So it would only make sense that the two play a show together. On June 20, in none other than the J-Bros' warehouse, old and new Miami will come together, and hopefully more natural connections and "punk rock friendships" will be made. Because all that Ben Katzman really seems to want to do is get people to jam and "chill mad hard" to some good bands.
Summing it all up, Katzman says, with a happy heart: "It's just cool that doing what you want because you love it can really get you further. It's all a dream come true already."
Crossfade's Top Blogs
Ben Katzman's DeGreaser and Jellyfish Brothers. With Plastic Pinks, Treasure Teeth, and DJ Barba Roja. Friday, June 20. Suite 206, 164 NW 20 St., Miami. The show starts at 9 p.m. and a $5 donation is requested at the door. Visit bufurecords.com.
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