PULLING INTO PHILVILLE: E.C. Roots Music Label to Release Anniversary Compilation
Matt Sayles has owned and operated Philville Records since 2002, first in Michigan, now in Wisconsin
words & photos by Parker Reed |
Grab your guitar and put on your dancin’ shoes, because a new compilation is set to get you informed and excited about an Eau Claire-based music label.
Philville Records is a music label/recording studio owned by Matt Sayles in Eau Claire, which produces roots music in the blues, country, and bluegrass genres. While Philville has only called Eau Claire home since 2019, the label is celebrating 20 years of producing music this year with its first volume of collected works, which will start in 2002 and stretch through the mid-2000s.
“The label is still similar to what it was at the start,” Sayles said. “It’s still independently owned, sole proprietorship, and I’m still picky about who I work with. I’ve always been a full-time working musician in one capacity or another, so a lot of the projects on Philville Records I’ve had a hand in, whether that is behind the desk or in the band itself.”
i want to find local talent here in the northwoods and promote it at this stage of my life.
Sayles started Philville Records in 2002 as a means to promote his band, Frostbitten Grass, and it has grown ever since. Named after a friend and supporter named Phil, the label crossed state lines in 2019 when Sayles’ wife accepted a position at UW-Eau Claire, opening up a wealth of possibilities for him musically.
Sayles has been a professional musician for the past two decades, regularly performing on albums and touring locally, regionally, and internationally (he’s heading back to Europe for a tour in November). Philville Records is set up right in Sayles’ home, making it easy for him to get to work every day, and helping artists feel right at home while they’re recording. He said he wants to dive more into the production/promotion side of music at this point in his life after decades of heavily playing live roots and bluegrass music.
“As I get older, I realized I don’t want to be playing honky-tonks and dive bars into my ’60s,” Sayles said. “I love playing and touring, and I’m never going to fully give that up entirely, but I want to find local talent here in the Northwoods and promote it at this stage of my life. The whole concept behind the label is the thought that a rising tide lifts all boats. If I can find artists that match with us, and fit our vibe, I want to build a community so that we all can benefit from each other.”
Sayles’ musical life currently sees him playing with his bluegrass outfit, The Driftless Revelers, and producing other artists on Philville Records, a combination of activities that continue to fulfill him musically. With the first of three Philville Records compilations on the way, Sayles and his collaborators are looking forward to spreading their love for roots music through the Chippewa Valley and beyond.
Philville Records’ 20th Anniversary Anthology Vol. 1 will be available digitally and on vinyl later this summer. For more information, visit philvillerecords.com.