Words By Kaylee Dugan, Photos By Jeff Martin
Here’s are a few people you’ve probably heard of: Marcus Dowling, who has worked for DC staple Listen Vision and has written for so many websites and blogs that it would be impossible to list them here (including us); Paige Plissner, a local DJ and tastemaker in the EDM scene; and Kate Ross, a business whiz that mixes the creative with the pragmatic. What’s their connection? They’re the founders of Cuff–a hyper new (as in this week) record label, artist management company, and radio show that focuses on electronic dance music, bringing everything together into one neat package.
“There was a need here for a label to legitimize the whole process,” said Plissner, head of A&R and a host of Cuff Radio. It was Plissner who decided she wanted to start her own record label and came up with Cuff.
“I was like, there’s something we need to do to make this a sustainable community and not let it just be a phase,” said Plissner. “There were all of these different pockets of communities that were doing the same thing, but they weren’t connected to each other.”
While starting a new label, management company, and radio show clearly took a lot of time and energy, Dowling, Plissner, and Ross are ecstatic for it all to begin. “It’s really cool to be able to finally say to everybody ‘Okay, I’ve kind of told you a little bit about this and a little about that’ and now there’s just so much more to come,” said Dowling, who does public relations and artist management.
For a company that was only officially announced on Monday, their clients already include artists like Rex Riot, Des McMahon, Jesse Slayter, and Kid Cedek. “Rex Riot was client one of everything, on accident,” said Dowling. “There would be days I was afraid to come into the office because I didn’t know what twelve things would happen that would be incredible.”
While Cuff is still a very new venture, Dowling, Plissner, and Ross already know exactly what’s important to them: authenticity, sustainability, and, most importantly, “#feelings.” “A lot of what makes Cuff special is that there are just so many feelings in what we do,” said Dowling.
“I’m a finance person, I think in corporate finance, so I always imagined myself in a vault somewhere crunching numbers,” said Ross, who has Math and Economics degrees from Vassar College, and is a artist/business manager. “Now I spend most of my time on the phone talking to grown men about their feelings, who refer to me as mom… or the boss.”
Even though the artists’ feelings, their feelings, and feelings about music in general are an important part of how Cuff operates (seriously, feelings are a big deal here), helping an artist figure out what they want to be, and what they want their legacy to be, is a huge part of the job. “Ideally, what we’re doing here on a hyperlocal level is to give artists the best possible opportunity to do what it takes artists years to do, to become their best authentic self out of the gate,” said Dowling.
At the same time, Cuff focuses on helping artists make their brand more sustainable. “So few artists view themselves as being more than just an artist and that’s the key thing that we push with people we work with and also ourselves,” said Dowling.
At the end of the day, Cuff sees itself as more of a family than a business. “The one thing I never expected was to have this family,” said Ross. “It’s funny how when we get [the artists] together how they all mesh. They didn’t really know each other and we brought them together and now they love each other.”