15 55nd Pl N, Birmingham, AL 35212
Communicating Vessels is an independent record label with in-house studio and storefront nestled in the historic Woodlawn district in Birmingham, Alabama. CommVess officially began in the home of producer, writer, recording artist, and former Remy Zero guitarist Jeffrey Cain, but in a broader, and certainly more emotional and creative sense, CommVess has its origins in the port city of Mobile. It was there during the 1980s that Cain was recording music on a 4-track deck, making cassette-cover art with paper copier, and pasting fake record label names on tapes he distributed to classmates at school. According to Cain, he got addicted to conjuring something out of nothing.
That do-a-lot-with-a-little spirit served Cain and his like-minded friends well during the 1990s, when the very desire to make music was more important to them than even having a name for their band. A devoted R.E.M. fan deeply inspired by the scenes in Atlanta and Athens, Cain understood that he would have to leave Mobile in order to “be in an art band in the South and produce music.” He headed for Atlanta, admittedly without a back-up plan.
That step ultimately led to a career: Cain’s years with Remy Zero, touring with label mates Radiohead, more than a decade of life in the Los Angeles music scene, and Isidore, Cain’s lush collaboration with Steve Kilbey of The Church.
During that time, Cain wondered if an artist-built label—one that operated as a genuine home and foundation for recording artists—might be a means of, as he puts it, “keeping music in the spiritual space where it is born.” Cain stopped wondering in 2011, when he started Communicating Vessels.