Pamela Garavano-Coolbaugh: Omnian Music Group’s dream-maker

It’s a classic tale: A struggling indie band that makes incredible music, but hasn’t gotten their spotlight. A demo tape is sent to a record label. Fingers are crossed. A person at the label takes a break from their busy schedule. She digs through the demo box. Headphones are worn. A finger hits ‘Play.’ Sparks fly.

As the Head Project Manager for Omnian Music Group, Pamela Garavano-Coolbaugh discovers artists and makes their dreams come true. Under the group, she oversees all of the releases — listening to band demos, figuring out art, setting up distribution — from beginning to end.

Pamela got her start in the music industry when she moved to New York at the age of 18, attending NYU; interning at Ba Da Bing Records and Chouette, a PR company, for six months; and working at Other Music (RIP) for almost seven years.

“I got to listen to music that I wouldn’t come across otherwise and talk to people about it,” she said. “It was very romantic.”

Through the city’s record store scene, the project manager met Mike Sniper, the founder of Captured Tracks, and ended up playing in Mike’s band Blank Dogs, and touring the U.S. and abroad. She also played in Widowspeak as their touring bassist, where she met her husband (and the band’s ex-drummer) Michael Stasiak. Now, the couple play occasionally.

“I don’t let myself get too far,” Pamela said. “I prefer to focus on the artists we work with right now.”

“Nightime” by Big Star

I’ve heard a lot of songs that are heartbreaking, but this one is one of my favorites. Big Star’s catalog is unmissable and takes you all the way to Chris Bell’s “I Am the Cosmos”, another perfect song that breaks me in two. For those moments when you’re broken and for when you’re on the mend.

“Unchanging Window / Chord Simple” by Broadcast

There’s something very singular about the music of Broadcast to me. Broadcast was one of the first bands that I had a hard time describing at first, other than saying “great”. It’s the music that soundtracks my best and weirdest dreams.

“Sunlight Bathed the Golden Glow” by Felt

Some of the best guitar music around. This music reminds me of a special moment in time where I got to spend my days in a record store listening to Felt with other people who also loved Felt. It’s sad music that makes me smile. It was also my gateway to Sarah records, as if I needed more reason to love Felt.

“The Streets of Your Town” by The Go-Betweens

The Go-Betweens made me think, “Why haven’t I been listening to this my whole life?” If that’s not a sign of life-changing music, I don’t know what is.

“Grains of Sand” by Opal

If I could pick the sonics or mood of one song to describe me, I think this song would be it. Opal forever.

“Song of Winter” by Francoise Hardy

Weirdly, one of the first Francoise Hardy LPs I bought featured her singing in English. The album is called Alone and from here I started my descent into the world of yé-yé. “Song of Winter” is melancholic in a beautiful way and I have a very sentimental attachment to it. It was really inspiring to discover a scene where women were the image at the forefront and it led me to Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot of course, but also, Jacques Dutronc, Serge Gainsbourg and Gerard Manset. I own what I guess you could call a decent amount of records, but Francoise Hardy records are ones that you could say I collect for various reasons, however gross that sounds.

“Walky Talky” by Harmonia

I find Krautrock / Psych music to be some of the best, for lack of a better word, music I can listen to. I can be a little high strung at times, but discovering Harmonia, Neu, Cluster, etc, has, I think, changed me a little; maybe even made me more relaxed. This is the music I listen to most when I’m home by myself. Maybe it’s the music I listen to when I’m most myself, if that’s a thing!

“Cruiser’s Creek” by The Fall

On recommendation from a record store clerk, I bought The Fall’s This Nation’s Saving Grace when I was in high school. When I put the CD into my car stereo, I remember initially being very baffled by it. “What is this?” Since I bought it with my own money, I just kept listening to it. I now own a bajillion (yes, the technical number) Fall records. It opened my eyes to a lot of other music and people who liked that music. Thank you record store clerk from Park Ave CDs.

“The Dolphins” by Fred Neil

There’s something about songs that revolve around D, E minor and A that I gravitate toward. I don’t know what it is; it really resonates with me. They are very popular chord progressions and I would say 50% of the time, if I’m listening to something I’ve never heard before and I say, “I love this,” it has those chord progressions. Anyway, this song is beautiful. I love Fred Neil; the lyrics, his voice.

“Just to See You Smile” by Spacemen 3

Spacemen 3 was one of many bands that was shared with me during my time working at the Manhattan record shop, Other Music. The owner, Chris Vanderloo, played Perfect Prescription and it blew my mind; I love the Velvet Underground, Stooges, and most of their touchtones, but was completely unaware of Spacemen 3. A few months later, a used copy of “Just to See You Smile” 12" came through and I bought it. This sounds nerdy, but the cut of the 12" at 45 RPM sounds so big and the guitars so crystalline. I remember playing it for my boyfriend — now husband — at the time and he just said, “Wow,” while we were listening to it. It’s how I felt too. I’ll always remember sharing that song with him and how special music made that little moment of connection feel.

“Sleeping Gas” by The Teardrop Explodes

Perhaps this song should actually be a song by Blank Dogs as a lot of my foray into damaged art rock starts with Mike Sniper, but I think the Teardop Explodes really encapsulates the late 2000s for me. Mike — the owner and founder of Captured Tracks, and the man behind Blank Dogs — was working at Academy when I first met him a decade ago as a college student in NYC. He would always recommend great music to me when I stopped in — from the Fresh & Onlys to the Teardrop Explodes, I always remember him saying, “Do you have this? You need this.” I didn’t and I did. I ended up playing in his band Blank Dogs and we did multiple tours in the U.S. and overseas. Before shows, we always checked out the record shops in the area. He is still and will always be one of my favorite people to shop for records with.

“Harsh Realm” by Widowspeak

I was a Widowspeak fan from the moment their debut 7" came through Other Music. At the time, I wasn’t aware that one of my co-workers, Michael, was the drummer of the band, and I played their music in the shop. I found out later, but still played their music all the time, even when he wasn’t working. He later asked me to play bass in the band and I briefly went on tour with them before their sophomore album was released. While on tour, we fell in love and love led to marriage. This music literally changed my life. He’s no longer in Widowspeak, but he plays in another band on Captured Tracks that I get to work with, EZTV. Small worlds!

Listen to 10 of Pamela’s songs on Spotify and the other two on YouTube (above).

Written and edited by Tiffany Wong. Artwork by Olivia Reaney.