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Carpark Records

Carpark Records

Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Wednesday 14th November, 2012 8:27AM

Carpark Records is a Washington DC-based label who have consistently signed some of alternative music's most exciting new acts, including Beach House, Cloud Nothings and Toro Y Moi, all of whom are still on the label. They've also signed myriad New Zealand acts including Signer, Over the Atlantic and - most recently - Popstrangers. UTR caught up with founder Todd Hyman to discuss how Carpark Records came about, the challenges it faces as an independent record label and why - being based in the States - the label has such an affinity for New Zealand artists.

Why did you decide to start a record label?

I dunno, it seemed like a good idea at the time ha. I was dj-ing an experimental electronic night with some friends and we were bringing in live acts every week. Most of them didn't work with a record label so I decided to start one up!

Was there a particular sound or artist you were interested in and wanted to represent with Carpark?

Not really. The label started with the experimental electronic artists from our DJ night at first but it ultimately (over many years) evolved into whatever I liked.

How do you usually discover the artists you sign?

Every artist has a different story but I guess most things happen on the internet these days.

What important characteristics does an artist need to be signed to Carpark?

There's not really a list or anything but it works out best when the artist is honest and has integrity - and makes music I like.

What are the major challenges that independent record labels face?

Selling and making money off music is the big challenge these days!

The internet has changed the music industry forever and always. How do you think it's made it harder or easier for independent labels to survive?

It's easier to do our job and the playing field has been leveled but it is harder in general to sell records.

What releases are you working toward and what are you excited about looking forward to the end of 2012 and into 2013?

We just put out a Prince Rama record on Paw Tracks last week - We also run Paw Tracks and Acute Records.

Memory Tapes Grace/Confusion comes out on December 4th. Toro Y Moi's Anything in Return is out on January 22nd. And Dog Bite and Popstrangers in February!

You have quite a few New Zealand artists on your roster including recent signing Popstrangers: is there a New Zealand connection somewhere in the mix? What drew you to the likes of Popstrangers, or Over the Atlantic, for example?

I've just always been a fan of New Zealand and it's indie music scene. I went to college in the 90s during a good time for kiwi music and saw lots of groups when I was in Chicago: Chris Knox, Peter Jeffries, Alistair Galbraith, The 3Ds, Cake Kitchen, Dead C - good times!

One of the first Carpark artists was Signer (aka Bevan Smith) in Wellington - he'd worked with Nik Brinkman on the Over the Atlantic record we put out, and that's it to the story really. Popstrangers emailed me a couple months back, and I really liked their music, so I asked them if we could put it out!


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