In what must be something of a weird feeling, Milwaukee expatriate Jeff Castelaz has been named president of Elektra Records.
The news was confirmed in an internal Warner Music Group memo today.
"Since its re-launch in 2009, Elektra has helped develop the careers of some of today's most exciting and popular talents. Jeff – with his strong creative instincts, indie sensibility and entrepreneurial drive – is the perfect choice to take this iconic imprint to new heights," wrote Atlantic chairman and CEO Craig Kallman and Atlantic chairman and COO Julie Greenwald in the joint communique.
In a statement, Elektra founder Jac Holzman said "Jeff's broad experience with indie recording and indie management has given him the perfect combination of energy, taste and a commitment to scout the edges and find those seminal artists, a bit ahead of their time, who are capable of making a significant contribution to those who embrace the best of new music. I look forward to our association."
In an article by Todd Martens, the L.A. Times today quotes Castelaz:
"They asked if I would like to bring the spirit and the action plan that I've had with my own record label to bear under the Elektra Records banner," Castelaz told Martens.
"Truth be told it was an absolute surprise that the topic came up. As the words crossed their lips, I immediately felt like this could be a wonderful opportunity for me."
After managing Citizen King and other bands for years in Milwaukee, Castelaz moved to L.A. and started Dangerbird Records with Peter Walker, working with Silversun Pickups, Sea Wolf and Fitz and the Tantrums, among others.
Castelaz left Dangerbird last month to focus on the clients of his Cast Management business, a company he started here.
"I started to feel that after 20-plus years as an indie music dude – I was a manager since I was 18 and I started the label 10 years ago – I've accomplished a lot of my goals in the record company space.
"I'm ... excited to be given an opportunity to step into the top position at a deeply meaningful label. This is a label that generations of people have grown up listening to."
Among the many artists signed to Elektra over the years were The Doors, The Cure, Queen, The Cars and Anita Baker, among others.
Castelaz also founded the Pablove Foundation while his late son Pablo was battling cancer.
I said at the beginning that the move might seem a weird one to Castelaz, because back in his Milwaukee days, Castelaz was in talks with then Elektra boss Sylvia Rhone in trying to work out a deal between Citizen King and the label. I bet he'd never have imagined back then that he'd be following in Rhone's footsteps in the future.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.