After sitting down for a conversation and cup of coffee with Hot Capicola Records founder Luke Schmidt you’ll quickly realize one thing: He’s a wholehearted believer in the Grand Rapids music scene.
But he’s not all talk. Back in January, he and the label’s co-founder JP Pinckney released Hot Capicola’s inaugural slab of wax: Lady Ace Boogie’s Feel Good Music. Since then, there’s been a lot of positivity, good vibes and inimitable passion coming from the emerging label.
“It’s hard work but I feel I’m passionate about music,” said Schmidt, who also handles management, booking, and promotions for the label artists. “I’m a music nerd and I’m really a firm believer in the music scene in Grand Rapids. I really want all the individuals and labels and artists and musicians to realize that the more we all work together, the better it is for the Grand Rapids Music scene as a whole.
“There’s a ton of talent here right now and it’s kind of primed to become a Midwestern mecca,” he added. “Grand Rapids is, I keep saying, on the cusp. I feel like something is about to break on a national scene.”
A taste of the imprint’s own musicians, and artists from across the mitten, will be on display at Oct. 30's Hot Capicola Records showcase at The Pyramid Scheme. The bill includes Tunde Olaniran (Quite Scientific Records of Ann Arbor), Gosh Pith (independent) and Hot Capicola's AOK. Vinyl Fetish will be spinning tunes between acts.
Hot Capicola Records' focus has primarily been hip-hop, but Schmidt, 38, said the label is open to all genres.
"Our goal is to put out fantastic music by incredible people," Schmidt said. “It’s all uniqueness. They’re very crucial parts of what could and should be happening in my opinion. They’re all trying to say something with their music and they’re cool people.”
As for what tangible formats the label presses up, they’re also flexible on that.
“We have released everything digitally, on CD and vinyl,” Schmidt said. “We also have plans for some cassette releases in the not too distant future.”
Along with Schmidt’s passion for music comes a lot of wisdom. He was in a rock band of his own for close to 10 years, including a stint in XU and a current gig with Slow Charm. His background as a musician has taught him many things. During that time the band played hundreds of shows, toured regionally and made some records.
“I learned a ton about how to book gigs and how hard indie bands have it with being taken seriously without some business representation behind them,” he said.
But he didn’t stop there. In hopes of making music a sustainable career, Schmidt enrolled at Grand Valley State University.
“I decided to go back to school and get a business degree,” he said. “I got a degree in marketing from GVSU with the idea of using that toward music and now those things are coming together.
And while the label might be a new addition to the local musical landscape, Schmidt said he aims to be a fixture.
“It feels good to get firmly entrenched in this musical scene that I really believe in,” he said. “There’s good things coming for this town on the musical front and I want to be one of the leaders.”
Hot Capicola Presents:
Tunde Olaniran, AOK, Gosh Pith, Vinyl Fetish
The Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids
Oct. 30, 8:30 p.m., $8/$10, 21+
pyramidschemebar.com, (616) 272-3758