Grannie Annie and Fight Like Animals: fighting for musical integrity

Fight Like Animals is made up of Ukranian friends Volodymyr Rychko and Rostislav Vaynshtok, who go by Vlad and Steve. They are produced by Grannie Annie Records, which is owned by William Alton right out of his Miami apartment. Photo by Olga Miljko
Fight Like Animals is made up of Ukranian friends Volodymyr Rychko and Rostislav Vaynshtok, who go by Vlad and Steve. They are produced by Grannie Annie Records, which is owned by William Alton right out of his Miami apartment. Photo by Olga Miljko

Sticky notes hang on a wall. CDs are piled up on the floor. Press releases and legal work lay on a desk. The rest of the space consists of a bedroom, living room and kitchen. This small apartment in Coconut Grove accommodates an independent record label. This is Grannie Annie Records.

William Alton, 25, a manager at a Borders bookstore always wanted to start a record label but never thought it could happen.  He tried researching but found the effort ridiculous.

Not until meeting local duo Fight Like Animals did he consider pushing forward. Now, his burgeoning label is centered on the symbiotic relationship with its sole band.

“I don’t want to say it [was] fate or coincidence,” Alton said. “But it [did] have written ‘right place at right time’ all over it.”

Fight Like Animals is a two-member instrumental rock band based in Miami. Rostislav Vaynshtok, 19, and Volodymyr Rychko, 17, or Steve and Vlad as they prefer to be called, are both from Ukraine. They have lived in the United States since childhood.

Three or four months ago, Alton met Vaynshtok at Borders. Alton was skeptical as they started talking about Vaynshtok’s band.

Alton joked, saying “your music probably sucks.”

He realized the band’s potential when Vaynshtok sent him a video of Fight Like Animals performing live. The duo has a unique, synthesized-rock sound that captivated Alton.

“If Fight Like Animals was a dinosaur, we were an electric pterodactyl,” Vaynshtok said. “We were a major screeching pile of electronica, a pure independent instrumental symphony.”

The video of the band and their music were Alton’s big indications to establish the label. Alton thought about a few names before finally deciding on Grannie Annie, named after his grandmother, the matriarch of his family. After going corporate, he wrote up a contract for Fight Like Animals.

“Will gave us the greatest recording contract in history, fifty-fifty,” Vaynshtok said.

Aware of how high the stakes were when delving into this business, Alton still decided to put all his savings into the band.

“If I don’t do well for the band, then the label [would be] done,” he said. “I’m not going to put more effort in anyone than them.”

The band members have two different views on what they want to do on the label. Vaynshtok is focused on marketing the band and making connections while Rychko said he just likes to make the songs.

“Playing just [gives] me a lot of satisfaction,” Rychko said.

Just as many larger record labels target specific genres, Grannie Annie Records and Fight Like Animals aim to bring musical variety to a transforming industry. They hope to bring integrity and passion to music since both need each other to thrive.

Vaynshtok summed up their relationship, “We got the wheels, but Will has got the car.”