Sunset Alliance (1999-2014+)
“Of the bands, by the bands.” That was the idea behind Sunset Alliance since our inception in Arizona, 1999. We were an alliance of Arizona artists who took pride in the fact that the label was made from the blood, sweat, and tears of volunteers and the bands that shared the imprint. Arizona has a wealth of resources and our primary focus was to utilize them as well as contribute to them. By our efforts and the interest of our local brothers and sisters, the label quickly grew.
While Sunset Alliance was in its infancy, David Jensen was building an alliance of his own with his 2-year investment into Not One Light Red: A Modified Document. With contributions by Scott Tennent, this compilation of local bands & artists in support of the historic art and performance space, Modified Arts, in downtown Phoenix, was made complete. Ready to launch his own label called Aireshire Drive, Jensen received an offer to jointly release the compilation, and co-operate Sunset Alliance. Jensen deliberated for about .01 seconds, before accepting the offer. Later in 2000, he took over the reigns from Steve Lefever who had altruistically served the label in every imaginable capacity. Steve worked behind the scenes to complete projects with Last Day Parade, The Necronauts, The Manhattan Project, and Signsedso.
In an attempt to build a local utopia, Sunset Alliance factored in the local artistic landscape with every decision we made. Great strides were taken as the catalog continued to swell and the successes and accolades were garnered. This effort also came in form of a Mesa (“480-area-core”) collective that led to the production of a compilation titled Americopa Mantle, Volume I. The way the local music community came together for this compilation and its artists was a real achievement and defining moment for our scene and greater attention and opportunities started to come to the desert. Those opportunities spread with the release of Not One Light Red: A Desert Extended; a compilation that paired local artists with internationally known indie rock outfits. This compilation marked the first release for The Format (later Fun.) and first American release for Kristopher Astrom (Fireside) and other notables.
Divisive methods took some of the fun out of the local scene, but our stubbornness kept us positive. We saw the fissures that cracked our camaraderie as evidence that Phoenix was on the national map as a legitimate music scene. This sign of competition seemed necessary to bide for the attention of the music lovers, as more and more creative options are available. Over the years, and with continued blood, sweat, and cheers, our catalog has continued to shine on with proud releases. Some local labels have risen like helium balloons, only to sink with the hot desert sun, but somehow this Sunset Alliance is still afloat.
It takes more than friendships and loyalties to keep a label running. It takes more than money and contacts. It takes more than desire and even ideas. It takes something that is beyond me, or us to understand. If we did understand we’d actually make money doing this thing we love…this thing we hate…this thing that has ripped over a decade of life from its captain and its shipmates, and steered this label into one storm after another. Through this voyage, some shipmates have turned to wreck-wishers and assailants. Some have just gracefully retired. And some still help steer through the waves.
Thanks to all the invaluable deckhands & contributors. Thanks to those allies who have added enough wind to the sails to keep us moving. And thanks to Arizona. Thanks to all supporters. Your messages, contributions, and encouragement are great blessings. After all these years, Sunset Alliance is still afloat and keeping to our motto, “Commit, explore, discover, build.” Cheers.