By Matt Saldana
The Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2010
Following last week’s surprise release of Funstyle, an online-only album that vents frustration at the recording industry, rocker Liz Phair has posted an instructive note on her website, titled How To Like It. In it, she announces that Funstyles songs have caused her to lose her record deal, management, and a lot of nights of sleep. Love them, or hate them, she writes of the new tracks, but dont mistake them for anything other than an entirely personal, un-tethered-from-the-machine, free for all view of the world, refracted through my own crazy lens.
On one such un-tethered track, Phair imagines an agent telling her Funstyle amounts to career suicide, and that ATO will never put this out. According to Phair, the latter point at least appears to be true.
In an e-mail to Speakeasy, Phair insisted there are no hard feelings, only circumstances that led to her split “almost a year ago” with ATO Records. The label, co-founded by Dave Matthews, signed Phair in 2008 and re-released her acclaimed and influential debut album, Exile in Guyville later that year. Billboard reported at the time that a new studio album was penciled in for the fall of 2008, though Funstyle marked Phair’s first album of original material since 2005s Somebody’s Miracle, released on Capitol Records.
In her e-mail to Speakeasy, Phair explained that, following a shift in management at ATO, the people who were still there didn’t like, or didn’t know, what to do with the music I was making, so we just stalled out and I asked to leave.
In an e-mail response, ATO Records spokesperson Ambrosia Healy did not comment directly on the details of the split, though she confirmed that Phair and the label have parted ways.
All of us here love Liz very much and wish her well, Healy wrote.
Despite the apparent rancor directed at the music-industry in general, and ATO in particular, on Funstyle, Phair told Speakeasy that her relationship with her former label isnt all sour: A few of them [at ATO] just contacted me after I put out Funstyle to tell me how hilarious some of the songs were. All good.
Read Phair’s full note, and listen to the track Bollywood, on Liz Phair’s website.