Published Mar 08, 2011Toronto-based labels Unfamiliar and Hand Drawn Dracula have both developed an impressive roster of talent in recent years, pushing releases for everyone from Japandroids and Makeout Videotape to Bad Tits and By Divine Right. With even the best record labels struggling to stay afloat in today's industry, however, both imprints have decided to team up under the new banner You Look Deathly.
In a recent Exclaim! interview, Greg Ipp, the founder of Unfamiliar who runs the label with Brasstronaut's Edo Van Breemen, explains, "The two labels remain separate but we have a parent company that sits above, sort of like a Beggars Group, where we have sub-labels that retain their distinct personalities but we have You Look Deathly holding the reins to the whole thing. We aren't adverse to having other labels join, but for now it's just Unfamiliar and Hand Drawn Dracula."
James Mejia runs Hand Drawn Dracula with the help of Holy Fuck's Brian Borcherdt. He tells Exclaim! that their label's involvement with You Look Deathly stemmed from a longstanding friendship. "Greg and I run in the same circles in Toronto and have become really good friends," he explains. "We're graphic/web designers, share similar music interests, and both run indie labels with a common ideology. So we would talk about ideas and projects and realized quickly that our artists and labels would both benefit if we worked together."
Alongside streamlined production costs and in-house promotion, Ipp says the merger will benefit how their labels approach an increasingly competitive market. "When it comes to applying for grants or approaching the music industry as a whole, it's a lot better for us to have a larger stable of artists who are established," he says. "The more solid your track record is the more seriously people will take you."
If this collaborative partnership comes with any downside, it's the sheer amount of output both labels intend to produce. "The main drawbacks are all just logistical stuff," Ipp admits. "It's more difficult when you have more stuff to deal with."
However, Mejia remains certain that their drive will get them through the labour, saying, "We both have a really strong work ethic, always finding ways to realize our ideas... Showcases, touring possibilities, publicity, distro, manufacturing, web development, art direction -- these are all foundations to build from and to bring together artists with a similar drive."
On top of the combined record label project, You Look Deathly also exists as an online music blog, showcasing Ipp and Mejia's favourite artists on their labels and elsewhere via exclusive mixes and videos. "The whole idea is that we're not just coming at it from the angle of two record labels," Ipp says. "We're also coming at it from the angle of a Canadian music community. We're bringing stuff to people that's not necessarily ours, working with other labels and other artists, letting people have more of an outlet."
You Look Deathly's official launch will take place during the Hand Drawn Dracula/Unfamiliar CMW showcase on Thursday (March 10) at the Garrison in Toronto. The event includes performances from Makeout Videotape, Little Girls, Brian Borcherdt, Actual Water, Rattail and Rituals. More information can be found here on Facebook.
To celebrate their upcoming CMW showcase, both labels have teamed up for a You Look Deathly mixtape, which you can stream and download below. The mix features many of the labels' artists, including exclusive tracks from Brian Borcherdt, Josh Reichmann and Rituals.
Vol. CMW HDD & UNF by HDD 02.2011