Arts Desk

“DC Hands”: A Free Compilation, a $27 T-Shirt, and (Maybe) the Genesis of a New Label

DC Hands

One Vs. Many makes T-shirts. The self-described creative agency throws parties on the first Thursday of every month at Aslylum. And more than a few times a year, it releases samplers of music mostly featuring D.C. artists. The music is free. The shirts are not.*

Regardless of your shopping habits, there's no reason not grab the company's latest compilation. Keyed to the company's "D.C. Hands" shirts, it features some songs you've heard, and a few you probably haven't, from local names like Deleted Scenes, Autorock, Outputmessage, Matthew Hemerlein, Educated Consumers, and others. My favorite? The Five One's breezy, atmospheric riff on Wale's—or Backyard Band's, or the Moments and the Whatnots'—"Pretty Girls."

"We actually started as a music production group for a bunch of local artists," Alex Welsh, One Vs. Many's founder, told me over the phone today. "For whatever reason we got into screen-printing. For 2010, I really wanted to get back to our music roots."

As for the theme, he said, "I kind of like that gesture. I think it gives a sense of community."

He said he hopes that releasing free compilations will build One Vs. Many's brand, help the company sell T-shirts, and shine some light on District musicians. "I feel like we're also kind of gravitating toward becoming a label," Welsh said. "The way that this will make money is T-shirt sales. But I just don't know if I have any intention of selling music, unless I make it a label."

Perhaps you're OK with dropping $27 on a shirt featuring a pair of hands spelling out "D.C." I am not, but then again, right now I'm wearing a "Wanted: Kinky Friedman for Guv" T-shirt that my mom bought in Texas several years ago. And the shirt I'm wearing over that has an illustration of a Wiffle Ball on it.

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