For those who would like to wrap themselves up in a Bay Area darkwave shroud to beat the winter chill; Psychic Eye Records just dropped Sacred Spells, a 19-track compilation album that runs the experimental gamut. Even better, its sales will go directly to TGI Justice Project, a group that supports trans, intersex, and gender variant struggling against the prejudiced and predatory legal system.
Label founder Akiko Sampson, who is non binary, is a veteran on the Bay music scene, having figured on local stages in their solo act Yama Uba and duo Ötzi. Sampson got the label going just last year, and they say that in curating Sacred Spells they wanted to give listeners an idea of Psychic Eyes’ artistic thrust. On the tracklist, you’ll find dark conjurings that when listened to all together, inspire both mourning and celebration for all the lives lost to transphobia.
All the better that you can support justice for queer and trans folk by purchasing the compilation, or attending the East Bay launch party on Tue/22 — International Trans Prisoners Solidarity Day — that will feature Sacred Spells contributors like Maya Songbird, VEX = Vortex Empath Xen, and Yama Uba. (DM the label for info, it’s at an underground venue.)
This is not the first time Sampson has made an essential link between their work and social justice causes. Last year, they joined with other artists and past and present sex workers to support Red Light Legal. The organization provides accessible legal support to those in the sex industry, ever more important in our frightening post-SESTA/FOSTA era.
We caught up with Sampson via email to talk about the Sacred Spells compilation, and the darkwave sound it captures.
48 HILLS What was your motivation behind founding Psychic Eye? What kind of artists did you want to make a home for on the label?
AKIKO SAMPSON Psychic Eye was started in 2018, when I started organizing shows featuring dark experimental acts. I co-organized a benefit show for ICE detainee legal support with Ratskin Records and one for Mexico and Puerto Rico disaster relief with Strange Bird Spectacles. I’m a fan of darkwave and dark experimental music, so started the label as a means to promote artists that I feel have a unique sound within those realms.
48 HILLS Tell me how the Sacred Spells came together. Did you have TGI Justice Project in mind when you were selecting the songs and artists?
AKIKO SAMPSON When I decided to start a label to support this kind of music, I started planning a compilation immediately. Compilations are a great way to set the tone and intention of a label, and it seemed like the right thing for collective works to benefit a larger cause. TGI Justice Project is a really important and underfunded organization, so I asked artists to contribute with them in mind. All of the artists were really excited to help out, and a lot of them said yes before I even finished the question.
Eight out of the 20 artists are from the Bay Area, with the rest being from New York, Los Angeles, Portland, Virginia, Texas, Mexico, Canada, Spain, and France.
48 HILLS How did you get involved with the TGI Justice Project?
AKIKO SAMPSON I found out about TGI Justice Project through a documentary at a disability justice film screening that included one of my films, and since then I’ve heard more about their work around the Bay Area. I’m a supporter and fan of TGIJP, but musicians don’t always have extra time for volunteering or money to donate. So using our music to raise funds is one way artists can directly support organizations doing vital work, and I’m very happy to be able to do that now.
Purchase Sacred Spells on Psychic Eye’s Bandcamp page.