JP resident debuts record label with own album

(Photo Courtesy Rachel Ament) Eli Schwartz.

Eli Schwartz is pulling a little double duty when it comes to the music business. The Jamaica Plain resident is both the co-founder of the new Mountain of Leopards Company and is the musician behind the company’s recently released first album, “Poison Packets.”

Mountain of Leopards, which name comes from the Song of Solomon in the Bible, held a record-release party for “Poison Packets” at James’s Gate Pub in JP on Nov. 13. The company will release two more albums in the near future.

One album will be from Mike Greenstein, a JP fixture who can be seen frequently playing saxophone in front of JP Seafood Café on Centre Street. The other album will be from Kevin Haugh, a West Roxbury resident who writes songs about his Vietnam War experience.

The albums were recorded at Schwartz’s apartment on Grovenor Road in central JP.

“My girlfriend hasn’t left me as of yet,” he joked.

Schwartz, who grew up in Somerville and Brookline, first began in music with the classical piano before switching to the jazz piano. The 24-year-old said he has been a musician on-and-off throughout his life.

He was attending New York University and playing in a band when he changed to his off-musician phase. He started to read William Blake and James Joyce. Schwartz said he wanted to become a writer and moved back to Boston.

But once back in the area, his girlfriend convinced Schwartz to get back into music. He said one of the selling points was that he would be able to combine both music and words.

The result was “Poison Packet,” which once completed Schwartz sent to Cavity Search Records in Portland, Ore.

“They loved the record and wanted to put it out,” he said.

When he was talking to Cavity Search, the company offered him a distribution deal. Schwartz discussed with his father starting a company using Cavity’s distribution deal. His father offered to put up some money and Mountain of Leopards was born.

“Poison Packets,” which is written under Schwartz’s pseudonym of Saul Conrad, will be a joint venture between Cavity Search and Mountain of Leopards.

“Eli decided to use a pseudonym because he has a slight sonic distaste for his own name, and as the founder of the label, he wanted some protection from his artistic identity,” said Mountain of Leopards spokesperson Rachel Ament. “He also has great admiration for the writer Joseph Conrad.”

Schwartz said for the record he wanted to try something new, so he swapped out the piano and wrote the album on guitar. He said the album has been described as on the fringe of folk music. Schwartz said he was trying to build landscapes and have different emotions expressed in his songs.

“The lyrics are very meaningful,” he said.

Schwartz said he had a “very open-ended process” for writing the songs and said it is similar to stream of consciousness. He also said the songs can be listened to multiple times with a different meaning each time.

One song titled “Pack Up Your Razors” is about a junkie he met in New York City.

Schwartz walked into a bar one night to a man reading “Finnegan’s Wake.” Scwartz struck up a conversation with the man and eventually gave him his phone number. The man, who Schwartz learned to be junkie, ended up staying at his apartment for several months, but could never get clean. He said that is one of the reasons he left NYC.

Schwartz said that the junkie was incredibly intelligent, wrote poetry and spoke in the stream-of-consciousness language of books like “Finnegan’s Wake.”

“The song is about him and the sadness I feel about him,” said Schwartz.

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