Pairing the word “industry” with the word “music” was probably the worst thing to happen to it. When music becomes a business, it can stifle creativity and lead to reheated pop garbage, void of any real substance.
That’s where Midwest Action’s newest series, Indie Label Spotlight, comes in. We’re not here to bitch about the record industry and tell you how exactly major labels are ruining music. Instead, we’re here to talk about the independent labels that are doing things right.
For our debut edition of this new series, we’re talking with Jeff and Dylan of Lafayette, IN based, Jurassic Pop Records. The relatively young label has already accumulated an impressive library of cassettes and vinyl from artists across the Midwest. Rather than churn out generic releases, Jurassic Pop puts in the extra effort to make each release unique and it hasn’t gone unnoticed with more than a handful of their limited editions currently sold out. We’ve mentioned Jurassic Pop releases several times here on MWA and we thought that it was about time to have a chat with its founders.
Can you tell us a little bit about when and why you started the label?
JEFF: Jurassic Pop sort of started by accident. In 2011, when I was a junior at Purdue, I started a basement venue called Jurassic Park. We had shows every week, which is probably why I failed Thermodynamics the first time. That’s where I first met Jurassic Pop co-founder, Dylan. He came to shows and played in a local band, so we became friends pretty quickly.Jurassic Park eventually got shut down by the powers that be, but a small community of local bands had grown around that scene, and we thought it would be a good idea to maintain the scene with a local imprint.
DYLAN: Yeah, I approached Jeff with the idea of turning JP into a label, and we both thought it was a pretty dumb idea. But, I guess we were bored enough to do it anyway. I don’t think we ever expected anyone to take us seriously.
How many releases have you put out so far?
JEFF: We’ve done 25 releases in the last year and a half; mostly cassettes with a handful of vinyl.
DYLAN: That sounds like a lot, now that you say it…
How do you decide what format each release will get and how many copies to put in the initial pressing?
JEFF: It’s mostly a gut thing. We’d love to do vinyl releases for all of our bands, but pressing vinyl is crazy expensive. So, cassettes are a great way for us to support the bands that we love without bankrupting ourselves (more than we already do).
DYLAN: We love doing cassettes, but vinyl is really where we’d like to start putting our focus.
JEFF: Short answer: It depends. We’re always trying to strike a balance between allowing the music on our label to have the greatest reach possible, and giving our fans something valuable for their money. We’ll always try and repress albums, if there’s a high demand, but we want some of our releases to only exist in a limited way. We would love to press more copies of the Mac DeMarco live cassette or the new Sisyphus album, and we’ve been asked to countless times, but we want these types of releases to be special, so we won’t ever repress them.
Is there something that you look for in a band when you’re considering working with them? Do you feel like there is a common thread between all of the releases on Jurassic Pop?
JEFF: The initial focus of Jurassic Pop was to showcase bands from Lafayette, but as time went on, we’ve been working more with bands from Indianapolis, Bloomington, Cleveland and Chicago. We like working with bands from the Midwest. It makes is easy for us to be able to have a personal relationship with our bands. And, the Midwest definitely has a different approach to independent music than the rest of the country that we try and embrace.
DYLAN: I think, musically, we just choose bands that we both really like. Our taste in music is pretty different, so it’s rare that we come across music that we agree on.
How do you think that being headquartered in Indiana or the Midwest has affected the label?
JEFF: It’s been great. We started out being locally focused, and that hasn’t changed. Dylan just recently moved to Indianapolis to work with Joyful Noise Recordings, and I actually live in Cleveland now. It’s a bit more difficult, working in different cities, but it’s given us the ability to spread further through the Midwest. I’m still involved in the Indiana side of things, but Dylan has become the pretty little face of JPop in that great state, while I’m working on expanding thing to Cleveland. I am a huge fan of the Cleveland music scene. I grew up here, before Jurassic Pop started, and I plan on getting more Jurassic Pop presence in Cleveland as time goes on.
DYLAN: I grew up in Indiana, so I feel like I have a personal stake in the welfare of the music scene here. There wasn’t much happening in Lafayette, before Jeff started throwing shows in his basement. So, when it finally looked like things could change, we got really motivated.
If someone wanted to dive into local music and pick up something from Jurassic Pop Records, where would you tell them to start?
JEFF: Start at the beginning! Our first six cassettes were great albums from Lafayette, IN that we thought needed more exposure than they were getting at the time. We might be biased, but we consider these albums to be classics.
DYLAN: If you’re looking for newer music,we’d definitely recommend Plateau Below’s debut album, Still Paradise, and the Sleeping Bag/Rozwell Kid collaboration album Dreamboats. These are albums that are very quickly moving beyond Indiana and into the national spotlight
Do you have anything in the works that you’re really excited about?
JEFF: ALWAYS! We’ve got a new Faux Paw EP on the way this summer, and we think it’s gonna blow people’s socks off. They’ve been playing a ton of shows and focusing their sound, and we think this is going to be the release that solidifies them as an important Indiana band. We’re also co-releasing the new Mike Adams At His Honest Weight album with our friends in Flannelgraph and Joyful Noise. We’re handling cassettes (of course), and those will be out in May.
DYLAN: There’s also some other fantastic stuff in the works that’s too early to talk about, but we can say that the folks who pay attention will not be disappointed.
Keep up with all things Jurassic Pop on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to stop by their online store to check out their current releases!