The Indie Record Label has moved from simple home based record labels to the keepers of the faith and the bearers of music’s legacies.
By Joseph Timmons: IndiePulse Music Magazine
Part 2 – The Young Bloods: Mind Altar Records – New Faith in a New Way Of Thinking about Record Producing.
Mind Altar Records believes in leaving their physical mark to remind the world that they exist. While the world is littered with digital entities that move in and out of existence, Mind Altar Records creates tangible artifacts of vinyl records that reconnect humans with the full experience of music.
Mind Altar Records, a Brooklyn based record label is looking to unearth and elevate the undiscovered talent that lives among us to a higher tier. The synergy between art and music should complement one another and act as a unit. Mind Altar strives to look as good as the music sounds, by aligning their artwork with the music that inspires it. Mind Altar Records is also a full design studio for all of the needs a flourishing musician requires. They are a shift in thinking, a wider perspective and deeper understanding of the world and beyond. Knowledge is power.
The label founder, Ryan Irven even made a video of himself mixing up the Vinyl and Pressing the Records.
The Mind Altar Interview:
IPM: Ryan, when last we spoke, you were doing music reviews on Instagram, what urged you to make the transition to starting a record label?
My Instagram page, @Waxaddict.music was the final catalyst that kicked off starting my own record label. I was meeting and talking to so many people in the industry that dealt with the music, art and manufacturing side of making a record and my once pipe dream starting feeling like more of a reality. The final push was visiting a local record pressing plant, Stereodisk about a year ago and seeing the final step in the process. It was there that I realized that I possessed all of the necessary skills to finally start my own label, and there was no looking back from there. Starting my own label enabled me to flex my design skills, something I do professionally already, but don’t often get to do projects I am this passionate about. I could also help use my skills seeking out talent for more than just a review, I could be the turning point for hard working bands to get the attention and recognition they deserve. I will admit I have been a bit negligent on my reviews on Wax Addict Music, but they will be picking up more again now that this release is on the horizon.
IPM: How did you come up with the name “Mind Altar”? What is your philosophy behind it?
The naming process took quite some time to solidify. Being a designer that does a lot of work on branding/naming projects, I tend to really gravitate to certain words and often write down ones that have a certain something special about them. I had a long list of words that fit the visual aesthetic I imagined the label going; something that complimented the music styles I was looking for the label to focus on. The word “altar” stood out to me, visually it conjures up a monolith structure that is a relic of the past that holds importance and mysticism. Combining the word “mind” with “altar” creates an interesting double meaning; the aforementioned structure that houses devoted followers of the label and altering one’s mind, your brain and personal temple of sorts. Music starts in your mind during the creation period and eventually ends back there when you are consuming it, the mind is a pivotal element of the whole process.
IPM: what types of listeners are you reaching out to, and what types of artists are you working with?
I am looking to reach out to listeners that put their trust into labels to help curate music for them. To create a stalwart of a label that people know turns out quality releases, while creating a sense of discovery for them on music they may not have been exposed to otherwise. Our Label is for someone who appreciates the details, the whole package, from the music itself to the synergistic artwork that accompanies the music. Mind Altar Records is looking to work with artists big and small, local and global; someone who is as passionate about what they do and is willing to put in the effort just as we are. Stylistically the label will be focusing on artists that encompass some form of psychedelic, garage, surf, shoegaze foundation, but genres can always be tricky to navigate since music is so subjective and words are so limiting.
IPM: I know Mind Altar is a very new label, and still in production, but you have your first record coming out soon, can you tell us about it?
The first release will be a band that is very near and dear to me, a band that I have watched grow over the years and know very well. They are called Honduras, and are deeply ingrained in the Brooklyn music scene, playing tons of shows in the city as well as national tours. It will be a 7″ of two new songs, “Need The Sun” b/w “Water Sign”, both are strong indie rock songs with a barrage of influences that each reveal a different side of their music.
It will be released in 3 different vinyl variants with all of the artwork done by myself: a very limited “Twin Pisces” deluxe package that includes a 2-color screen print of alternate artwork and a one-off photo of the band, a “Sun Spot” tour version that will only be available on their upcoming tour and a “Lucid Ripple” limited edition online version from the store. We also decided to put a locked groove on the A-side so don’t think your turntable is broken! The music sounds like Brit punk meets Deerhunter head on with more focus on the rhythm section.
IPM: you based out of Brooklyn NY, I am from NY as well and the Music Scene in NY is ever changing and never slow, one day the music is hot, the next, “you listen to who?”, how do you plan your “Business Model” to survive the constant changes.
Being in such a highly concentrated music scene can be a blessing and a curse. There have been more than one time where I was torn on what band to see at what venue, but I shouldn’t be complaining about all the choices! I think there are a lot of bands that may be hot one day and burn out quick, but that is where true music curation comes into play. Mind Altar is looking for bands with staying power and the ability to grow, there are plenty of them out there, you just have to spend the time sifting through the sea of musicians to find them.
IPM: Thinking about the Indie Label Scene, There are some that are very good and there are some that are…. Well, not so well. With that in mind, what will people see in Mind Altar that will let your label stand out?
I think the first touchpoint for the labels stand out is something I mentioned earlier. Although we listen to music for its sonic quality, there is something to be said on having an visually pleasing and consistent look & feel. I know I for one have fallen for album artwork alone, it is the first thing that you experience before you have the opportunity to listen to an album, it’s essentially the frontline of music. As a professional designer I am able to offer musicians on our roster access to all the design work they could need, but not always afford to help propel their presence. I work with packaging and branding full time so I know the importance of creating an ownable brand and how that can translate for a musician.
IPM: Who are some of your favorite Indie Labels, and why? Do you see any significant challenges to either mirror their success or stand at a colleague level?
There are so many amazing indie labels out there currently, so I will just name a couple although I could ramble on about a lot more. Flightless Records in Melbourne, Australia is a really strong label sonically and visually. Started by the members of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, they have managed to compile an outstanding roster with beautiful artwork by Jason Galea; all while constantly touring around the world. My only problem with them is that the shipping from Australia definitely hurts your wallet! Another favorite is Castle Face Records based in California, which was started by John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees (or Oh Sees, or OCS now?). His label always finds interesting bands that have never come across my radar before, that I fall in love with on first listen; they’re another one that I have a hard time resisting to buy when their emails hit my inbox. Fuzz Club Records from London also is a top pick for all of the same reasons I listed for the other two, they all also have stunning artwork and vinyl to accompany the music. The obvious challenges are to catch up to speed with some of these labels that are well established for years and often have strong band ties, but I am a firm believer that you have to walk before you run. It is only a matter of time.
IPM: On your Website, you have an open call for artists and bands, what have the responses been? In NY there are probably so many to choose from, and then there are bands outside of NY, without names, obviously, any bands that make the cut?
I have surprisingly had a few responses already, which I wasn’t expecting. I’ve been working on getting this label up and running for almost half a year now and kept my cards pretty close to my chest until the past month or so; it’s only until now that I have really been revealing pieces of what I am doing and getting the word out there. Once this first release hits the public on March 1st I expect to focus more on the next release and reaching out, but I wanted it all to be as tight as possible before releasing it all to the world.
IPM: Where do you see Mind Altar in Five years, and what’s next for Mind Altar, support tours, events, local or national?
I see the label scaling at a manageable pace that doesn’t sacrifice quality over the course of the next five years, with full lengths coming out in a more constant pace. The beauty of an indie label is that it is not tied to lots of outside influences so we can take a risk, do something less traditional and can really give the bands what they want on an individual level. I would like to see the label to grow into a tight knit community for the artists to be able to collaborate with each other, tour together and possibly even throw our own showcases or something bigger!
Where do you see the Indie Record scene going, right now, it is in some eyes, a novelty, to others, a growing music influence, some fear it will go the way of the “Major Labels” that in my opinion due to greed, nearly destroyed the music life, your thought?
I think the indie scene is stronger than ever, but in a sense it has always been there from the start, they just have a more even playing field with access to technology and resources. Major labels have always been around from the start, and will most likely always remain. Indie labels allow a more focused and personalized approach to bands that majors will always fall short to. They may not have the funds to do what the big cats do, but I have always found that limits and constraints help push creativity and problem solving. It is amazing what people can do with their own community of tools and resources, when it comes down to it, it is the thinking and idea behind the project, not the money.
Mind Altar Founder Ryan Irven has an almost “Utopian” hope for the future of his label, and the Indie Record Label Scene in general, but he goes into this with not only a firm conviction but with the knowledge of his peers, garnished from his years of covering the music scenes and being involved in it so deeply, he knows that it is not all smiles and candy, but there will be hard work ahead, the phrase “There Will be Blood” comes to mind, the blood sweat and tears associated with not only running a business, but a music business, where so many can be on top then never see the light of the amplifiers again.
Let us support Mind Altar, and all those the would make our lives richer.
Mind Altar website is www.mindaltarrecords.com