"For better or worse, I can’t seem to do anything other than exactly what I feel compelled to do any given day, can’t seem to make a type of music just because I want to make that type of music."
And today's interview is with a musician and independent label head that is helping other indie artists make waves. This… is Mr. Husband.
Mr. Husband’s debut release is Plaid on Plaid, out now on Yellow K Records. Hear more #WVmusic on A Change of Tune, airing Saturday nights at 10 on West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Connect with A Change of Tune on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And for more #WVmusic chats, make sure to go to wvpublic.org/wvmusic and subscribe to our RSS / podcast feeds.
On his upbringing:
I was raised in Petersburg, in the Eastern Panhandle. I had a good time living there. I could smell and hear the Potomac River the entire time I grew up. I’ve always made music with my brother Kurt, and we started a band called New God which got attention for our first two records. A lot of people compared us to the Beach Boys since our music was a bright and sunny thing. It was our own take on pop music sung by two brothers from Petersburg, West Virginia.
I think all of my music would have to be influenced by my upbringing. I felt very alone being a creative person, which isn’t a bad thing. When I was kid, I thought all of my songs were fantastic, and then when I went to college and met other people who were also trying to write songs, I thought, “I might have to try a little harder. These guys are good.” It was because the solitude of [West Virginia’s music] culture. I didn’t grow up with a lot of punk rock bands or people setting an example of what a band or artist should be, so I grew like a wildflower in that way. But for better or worse, I can’t seem to do anything other than exactly what I feel compelled to do any given day, can’t seem to make a type of music just because I want to make that type of music.
But I know some people who make pop music in West Virginia now, and I’ve been around long enough to get to meet souls in the music scene. But at the time, I felt alone with that.
On leaving West Virginia:
In the time and place we live in, I think if you’re trying to promote your music, you have to leave wherever you are. Just like any place that’s not metropolitan or doesn’t have a lot of tourist activity, it’s hard to sustain original music scenes, not to mention the economy of keeping a venue running, employing people, keeping bands interested. It’s the same things we talk about outside of West Virginia about how to keep these little scenes going with so little money going into the scenes.
West Virginia had its own unique challenges culturally. Like as a kid, I was scared to be an artist because I didn’t have examples set for that around me. I felt like I was stepping into a vulnerable place playing in front of people, maybe even more so than a kid from somewhere with a lot of bands.
On his indie music label Yellow K Records:
Over time having done so much for yourself as a musician, you start to say, “Well, I guess I don’t need anybody else involved so long as we can keep the organization of it all.” And we still want to get people involved with our music outside of Yellow K Records. There are tons of doors we can’t open for ourselves. It does have to do with my music, but it also has to do with a shared love of music between me, my brother, and Josh Grapes (our kind of adopted brother). It’s just a lifelong thing we’ve had with sharing music.
[When it comes to Yellow K Records’] Eskimeaux, they were playing keyboards with Frankie Cosmos, which Josh, Kurt and I really thought was awesome and just nerding out we found out about Eskimeaux. We reached out to them and talked to them and thought they were cool. [Another Yellow K Records artist] Japanese Breakfast is a different story. We were going to Philadelphia all the time and made different circles of friends, so that’s how that happened, just knowing friends of friends. We don’t usually go hunting for bands too much; we listen to everything that gets sent to us, and every artist that’s been signed to us has been recommended or friends of friends.
Each of us are sort of independent project managers at any given time. There’s a lot of little busy work you wouldn’t guess would be there. On any given day my role is like, “I have this project. Its release is three months from now.” And I am the person who is keeping the band, the PR people, the label, the manufacturing and booking help all looped together in the same conversation to keep working together, not against each other.
Music featured in this #WVmusic chat:
Mr. Husband- “Riding a Lightning Bolt”
Mr. Husband- “Shake That Dream”
Mr. Husband- “Cookie Pie”
Support for 30 Days of #WVmusic is provided by Kin Ship Goods, proud supporter of DIY music and the arts. Locally shipped worldwide at kinshipgoods.com.