Miami New Times' Mastermind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. As we approach Artopia, our annual arts soiree where we'll announce the three Mastermind winners March 8, we're profiling each of our nine 2012 finalists. For tickets and more information about Artopia, visit the website.
Drugged Conscience Records
When metal band Thou decided to release Kingdoms back in 2009, they chose Chris Donaldson to execute the packaging for their three-cassette boxed set. "They are from Baton Rouge and I knew them from playing with them on tours," says Chris Donaldson who started the Drugged Conscience label back in 2006. "But that was the first time I worked with them on a release," he adds.
The result of his collaboration with Thou was one of the striking opuses that make bands, collectors and even the casual music lover fans of Donaldson and his indie label.
It also reflects why acts far and wide target Drugged Conscience when they want their latest release to leave an indelible mark on the alt music scene.
Thou's release was packaged in a small jet black box covered in striking grey and black artwork and contained three imprinted cassettes in hand-made cases, a pin, a sticker, a 30-page booklet with lyrics and a potion vial filled with Brazilian pepper seeds nestled on a bed of Spanish moss shipped to Donaldson by the band from the bayou.
"I hand-cut it all using an Xacto blade after silk screening the boxes," says Donaldson who currently works out of a guest room in his Kendall apartment surrounded by a trove of the richly textured paper, shards of fabric and scissors he uses to create distinctly original promotional materials and packaging for his label.
Since starting Drugged Conscience, Donaldson has issued over 50 releases but it's not even the 25 year-old punk impresario's first record label.
"I started putting amateur stuff out there when I was 14 and at Gulf Coast High School in Naples," mentions the South Florida native. "At the time I operated Culprit Records and would burn CD's for my friends on my parent's computer and make all the label art myself before distributing the stuff to me friends at school," he says.
These days Drugged Conscience has followers from Portland to Poland and Belgium. Donaldson's releases sell out regularly and he typically receives orders from across the globe. "I've been doing this for a minute and send stuff all over the world," he mentions. "People in Indonesia primarily listen to cassettes so when I put out a tape, I usually get a lot of orders from there."
Donaldson was surprised recently during a visit to Japan where he discovered several of his releases prominently displayed in a Tokyo punk record emporium. "I've done glow-in-the-dark tape sleeves, silk-screened stuff on fabric and even released a Nacho-shaped record for a band by the same name," mentions Donaldson.
Oh, and when he's not crafting his singular masterpieces for the bands he works with Donaldson is booking acts on a regular basis at Churchill's, planning his next release or playing drums with his own group No Children.
Stooping into the back of his van with a box of Drugged Conscience's latest offerings addressed to devotees far and wide he stops to check an order from Germany: "This is a process that's never ending," explains South Florida's one-man Punk scene ambassador. "But I love what I'm doing," he beams.
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