When we heard Seattle’s Sub Pop Records was celebrating 30 years and had always dreamt of having their own plane, we figured it was the least we could do. They gave us Nirvana and The Shins after all.
The independent record label got its start in 1988 and is known for signing central players in the grunge movement. They’ve since put several independent artists (and a store at SeaTac) on the map. We love them so much, we offer their music for free on our flights.
“It means so much for Alaska to say yes, music is important – music does make people’s lives better and brings us together as people,” said Megan Jasper, the label’s executive vice president.
We spoke with Jasper, who started as Sub Pop’s punk receptionist years ago, about our partnership and the iconic label’s anniversary concert in West Seattle this weekend.
Alaska: Wow, 30 years. What does it mean for Sub Pop to hit this milestone?
Jasper: It’s kind of crazy. When Bruce and Jonathan started Sub Pop, they weren’t thinking 30 years from that point. For an independent label to last 30 years is something special. It’s not lost on us that we wouldn’t have lasted this long without great artists and community support. We’re very fortunate.
Alaska: What is one of your favorite Sub Pop memories from the past three decades?
Jasper: When Sub Pop started working with The Shins [in the early 2000s], no one knew who they were. They were a small band that would open for other bands. But their music was quirky and weird, brilliant and interesting. We were all mesmerized by this band.
When we released their second record [Chutes Too Narrow] in 2003, I remember them playing to the Bowery Ballroom in New York City. To stand at the balcony and look out and see them playing these weird, interesting songs to a sold-out audience that was packed full – and to see the audience singing every word – was one of those moments that will forever be in my heart. This little baby band had grown into something truly significant – a band that really had an impact on people’s lives. It made me feel like I was part of something so important.
Alaska: How would you describe Sub Pop to a stranger?
Jasper: I would describe it as an organization that celebrates independent music and is always developing artists in hopes of them having long-term careers. We try to do that with humor and with equal parts reverence and irreverence.
Alaska: We love this partnership, not just because Alaska and Sub Pop are two Seattle brands. We think we both strive to do things a little differently. Do you agree?
Jasper: When you are based in Seattle, WA, you really do things differently. We don’t have an industry-standard city as a base. We’re two companies that have had to figure out what works best for us and the people we serve.
We both strive to do things really well. I think when you put that experience first – someone flying on a plane or an artist looking for support for their art – that matters more than anything else. The attention to quality is felt.
Alaska: Has Sub Pop ever had an airplane?
Jasper: Hell no! We’ve never done anything like this, but we’ve talked about it for years. Sometimes you have dreams and you think they’ll always just be dreams. This plane being wrapped really truly is a dream come true for Sub Pop. It validates the importance that music has in people’s lives. It validates the work that this company has done. We always hope that what we do improves people’s lives.
It means so much for Alaska to say yes, music is important – music does make people’s lives better and brings us together as people.
The plane wrap is particularly meaningful for Sub Pop because it features stickers of our label we’ve used over the years. The rainbow flag sticker was created in June 2017 to help celebrate Pride month and has been in existence ever since. The owl sticker was designed by visual artist and musician Rick Froberg, who has recorded with The Obits and Hot Snakes, two bands on Sub Pop’s roster.
Alaska: It looks like you’re putting on an awesome event, SPF 30, to celebrate your anniversary this weekend. Have you had a show at Alki before?
Jasper: We’ve never had an event on Alki. For our 25th anniversary, we took over a chunk of space in Georgetown. At our 20th, we had a festival at Marymoor Park. It’s fun to throw these events, and we never want to do the same thing twice. We like the idea of reinvention.
We love West Seattle and think Alki is truly special. It showcases things we love about life in Northwest: mom-and-pop businesses, Puget Sound, the mountains and a stunning view of downtown Seattle.