The third documentary in Kenneth Thomas’ trilogy about indie music culture, IT CAME FROM AQUARIUS RECORDS explores the adventurous independent record shop that helped shape the tastes of San Francisco area residents and beyond for nearly a half a century.
Aquarius Records closed in 2016 after establishing itself as one of the greatest champions of underground and experimental sounds, turning the world onto sound and music of limitless varieties, some of which would soon explode in popularity out of the independent music scenes.
Filmed over six years and featuring over 50 interviews, the film takes an in-depth look at the heartbreak of shuttering the beloved store amid the city’s wave of gentrification and traces its long history of influencing music and culture in the city.
Kenneth Thomas is a teacher and filmmaker from Arcata, the far reaches of Northern California. From the age of 22, he has consistently worked in some aspect of news or documentary production. After graduating with his Bachelor’s Degree in 16mm Film Production from Boston University, he moved back to his hometown, to work at the local CBS television station, where he quickly became the Technical Director, and then the Live News Director for both the 6pm and 11pm newscasts. Before he left, he also served as their News Videographer, documenting stories on the front lines, like Earth First’s controversial fight to save the old-growth redwood forests.
He then spent 4 years in Seattle, helping to start a dot-com that specialized in shooting multi-camera productions of rock concerts for the internet. Kenneth co-produced, shot, and directed about a dozen concerts for the company, for bands like Queens of the Stone Age, The Dandy Warhols and King Crimson. This was a few years before YouTube, so the company was a little ahead of its time — but, before they went out of business, Kenneth purchased a slew of equipment from the company to bring to Los Angeles.
The next ten years were spent as a freelance camera operator and editor, shooting red carpet events for Marvel, co-directing and shooting a cross-country car race in Mexico, shooting and editing for Shout Factory on their television nostalgia DVD’s, and becoming part of Yanni’s camera crew for his PBS specials in Florida, Mexico and Egypt.
After receiving his MFA in Film at San Francisco Art Institute, Kenneth completed his 5-year long film project, a feature-length music documentary called Blood, Sweat + Vinyl: DIY in the 21st Century. Featuring over a dozen multi-camera live concert shoots and 20 interviews about independent heavy metal music culture, the film has screened in over two dozen film and music festivals on every continent (except Antarctica) and is currently being independently distributed. This documentary led to him directing two music videos for bands in the film, one of which aired on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. He recently completed his third feature-length music documentary, which is about the rise and fall of the fiercely independent, SF-based record store, Aquarius Records.
Kenneth currently teaches Live TV Production and Audio Production at Los Angeles City College, with occasional freelance stints as a key camera operator for live multi-camera streams of LA Philharmonic concerts, directing live multi-camera streams of heavy metal concerts in Boston and Los Angeles, and studying to become a Certified Cicerone — which is a fancy way of saying “beer expert.”