Flavour of the Month
"we hope that this incohesion does not discourage anyone from listening"
An interview with musician Jordan Mason, founder of OH! MAP RECORDS, an independent folk noise found sound pop catastrophe imprint based out of the lovely border town and "passage to freedom": Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada.
1. How long has OH MAP! been around for? When did the label get up and running? And who are the people who helped to start up and/or are now running the show???
OH! MAP RECORDS has been around since the day after Elliott Smith died. That wasn't exactly intentional, but coincidental, if you will. So we've been running for just a little over a year. I started the label with friends from California(Mat Vuksinich, Neil Gong, etc...). The label is run by the artists. Basically - they do their own packaging and everything in most cases (production, recording, artwork, etc...). I'm just kind of the person who helps bring it all together, I suppose, since I know everyone on the label.
Me (Jordan Mason) and Meghan Joyce (Stop Coming to my House Prom Queen) are the only Canadians on the label. The rest of the bands/artists are from all over California, Oregon, Georgia, Ohio, Maryland, and of course Australia. We're all very young (a lot of us are in the last year of high school or in college or just finished/finishing college, etc).
2. I love the name of the label: OH! MAP. What does it mean?
The phrase "OH! MAP" was something I'd been saying in my head a lot when we started the label. Basically, it had to do with the fact that I was looking for a new direction and it also fit the label well because we're kind of scattered all over the place.
3. If someone asked you to describe the "OH! MAP Sound" what would you tell them?
Lo-fi pop, folk, and noise - sometimes all at once. There are very few "bands" on the label but it consists mostly of solo artists. My friend Eric once said that it sounded like a bunch of kids who can't really sing or play the guitar. I'd like to think we're a bit more than that, but you know.
4. There's a lot of variety on the label. There's noise/found sound artists like - I am a Carbon Unit & Stop Coming to my House Prom Queen and there's pop/folk artists like the Sarcastic Dharma Society & Chelsey Fasano. What is the glue that brings all of these diverse artists & soiunds together - is it collective spirit, community or something else?
Everyone who is on the label is a good friend of mine. And most of us are friends with one another. There are some artists who don't know some of the others, but generally they're all connected in some way. I usually go with the idea that we're almost more of a "collective" than a record label, if that makes sense.
Basically, the people that I started the record label with I met in California while attending the California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA). We spent a lot of our time there singing songs out on the lawn. Neil Gong and I wrote a song together for our final writing project and decided to continue working together afterwards despite the distance. So, that's how the label started�Communist Daughter (originally called Two Headed Boy), the Sarcastic Dharma Society, and From Left to Right were the first bands on the label - all students from CSSSA. And then basically it grew from there.
The good thing is that I get to hear a lot of really wonderful music. I am sincerely a big "fan" of all of the artists on the label and I think being exposed to such a constant output of creativity inspires me to continue working.
5. What labels, artists and collectives have influenced OH! MAP?
Collectives and record labels such as the Elephant Six Collective and K Records have had a big impact on how I run the label and our sound, perhaps. A lot of people on the label are fond of that music, and it also seems that we share the same type of sporadic sounds genre-wise�for instance, one band will sound really folky, while another is really noisy and improvised. I think we share the same freedom and DIY approach, in the sense that we not only record and write all of our own music, but we distribute and package it ourselves as well. Hah, this is also due to the fact that we are broke but that's besides the point.
6. How has the label's musical output been received by listeners? What's the strangest complement that anyone has ever shared with you?
The feedback has been overwhelming - and it seems to be constantly growing. I think the strangest comment I've ever received was an e-mail asking if someone could marry Chelsey Fasano. Hah!
7. What lies in store for the future of OH! MAP? What are yr plans for 2005??
More releases (the Sarcastic Dharma Society, the Nouns, Shelby Sifers, etc.),more shows in the summer especially. If we make enough money, we'll press our CDs. I'd also like to add a Paypal account to the website and start distributing the CDs through the internet more, since "snail mail" is difficult for a lot of people. For all of us to continue writing and recording music. Maybe the Communist Daughter EP will eventually be finished. Overall, I'm pretty excited about the future.
OH! MAP RECORDS' website features an excellent assortment of MP3s by such artists as Communist Daughter, the Sarcastic Dharma Society, Chelsey Fasano, I am a Carbon Unit & Jordaan Mason, etc. - http://silvergrin.net/oh/mp3.html