Morning Ritual: Harry Portnof of Greenway Records

May 15, 2020

Our NYC crew clued us into Greenway Records, an independent record label in Brooklyn that has put out some of our favorite releases of the last few years. We recently checked in with Greenway founder Harry Portnof, a New York native and CPA who left the accounting world to pursue his dream and passion by starting Greenway Records. Specializing in boundary-pushing, aesthetically compelling, limited-run vinyl pressings. Greenway prides itself on supporting and fostering a close-knit family of artists they truly believe in.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters: Hi Harry! How do you wake up? What time?
Harry Portnof: I usually wake up at 8:30am and head straight to my coffee maker. I can't think or even string together two sentences before that first cup. Rock shows and the networking that accompanies them typically happen late at night, so mornings can be rough. I typically spend 4-5 nights a week scouting bands in Brooklyn and NYC, which means my wake-up times vary. The upside of quarantine is that I’ve been able to stick to a normal schedule. The downside is there’s no shows.

SCR: What’s your typical breakfast?
HP: My breakfast is mostly coffee, I typically drink 2-3 cups before noon. Caffeine is pretty much my best friend. I do like making sunny side up eggs and toast (for me, that’s basically gourmet); I've become quite the chef during quarantine. I have a little handheld bean grinder, so I grind up what I need, set the machine and head into the shower. The smell of coffee waiting for me is heaven. I grab my cup, put on a record, open my laptop and start digging into the never-ending emails waiting for me each morning.

SCR: How do you take your coffee? 
HP: I actually prefer my coffee black, although my intern turned me onto oat milk, and I've become obsessed. So black with a splash of oat milk. I really love Stumptown’s cold brews with Oatly, they really are amazing (especially the Horchata flavor).

SCR: What do you do after breakfast?
HP: After answering emails, I usually listen to test pressings. Before we do a large pressing of vinyl, we need to quality control and approve test pressings, which are essentially samples. Throughout the day, I both listen to and manage upcoming Greenway releases. There’s a ton of moving parts involved in the making and distribution of your next favorite album and I’m lucky to have a great team who are the very best at doing just that. Since quarantine began, I've been hosting a weekly guest-curated Spotify playlist called "The Weekly Jam.” It’s been a great creative outlet and I’ve discovered some real gems through my friends who have been curating each week. When I get tired of flipping over LPs (rare), it’s nice to just press play on my laptop sometimes.  

SCR: How do you start your workday?
HP: Coffee and records. The best way to start any day.