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Culture Shock

What is the HumDrum Press?

I had the pleasure of interviewing Max DiFrisco and Braeden Janes, two founders of the HumDrum Press, an independent record label started a few months ago in town. I was able to talk to them about their inspirations, recent releases, and how this project is different from any other student project.

*Note: Any music mentioned within this interview will be linked to Spotify at the bottom of this article.

What is the HumDrum Press?

Braeden: Trying to think of a way to talk about it that's meaningfully clever.

Max: It's a way for artists to fully realize their visions with a team that wants to realize it with them. No matter what type of art you're making.

Is this a record label? Or more than music?

Braeden: In a lot of ways, we act like a record label. We do a lot of the things that a record label does. But as we developed the projects and the ideas and worked with our artists more, I think we realized that we had the potential to do more as sort of a wider media organization. And so in a lot of ways, I think just in the last few short months, we've expanded what we are doing and what we hope to do in the future.

Max: Some early inspirations I brought up were not record labels. One of the groups, I mentioned early on, Adult Swim, was something that I wanted us to look at very just like it's one big brain trust, that also has such a wide scope. Just kind of gives people the floor to do what they want. And right now, I think we're a record label because that's what world we're in. A lot of us are audio engineers or songwriters and outside of there, it's a lot of just people who are just great visual artists. It's easy to envision every path that we can be going down in the coming years, and we've talked a lot about animation becoming a big part of what we do, talked a lot about longer-form video content, and talked about actual written published, zines and such. So I think we're going to try everything that we can and not envision ourselves as exclusively a record label. But that doesn't change the fact that right now we're kind of just a record label.

With the Adult Swim mention, what are your inspirations media-wise?

Max: Elephant Six Recording Company is a big one. Great indie record label that was built out of a home of people doing stuff together.

Braeden:I think a lot of our influences sort of trace back to Elephant Six in the early days of SubPop. And a lot of the smaller indie indie record labels. And even to the earliest days of some people who are closer to home, like Joyful Noise Records. The many people who operate under Secretly Group have all been very inspirational to us, not just from a what they do perspective, but even from the branding, and way that they treat themselves as an organization. Totally.

Max: We are all very passionate about certain artists, music, and otherwise, their work stands on its own, and finds ways to get their work out and appreciated. I think a lot of our mindset is what if that process worked with artists that are super independent? What if we give them all the tools not to worry about anything other than fulfilling their vision? I think as much as certain labels have influenced us, I am really influenced by what individual artists can be doing, and the crossover of that when you put a bunch of those artists in the same place.

Are there any artists that exemplify this work style?

Max: Maybe a cornball answer at this point. But like, it would be so remiss to not talk about Brockhampton. They lived in a house together and however, many of them, the ones who were making beats are making beats, the ones who were rapping, rapping, the ones who were in charge of web design, were doing web design. ones are doing video and film, were doing that, and eventually the line started to be blurred. Everybody was doing everything. Anybody was touching and working on anything they wanted to. 

We saw this happen over the summer for the first stack. When everybody ended up being in the house for no matter what even if it was days where we needed to just focus on one vocal and ended up turning into a whole bunch of stuff during the workday.

What is a stack? Do you only do the whole stack thing? Is a stack just individuals released together or something more related?

Braeden: Stack one, what we just released, is a little bit more of, here are these three records as one big thing. And that's something that we are going to continue pursuing. I think part of the togetherness of those records is because they were literally made together, like at the same time with the same people. And that is amazing. But it's also not replicable, like lightning in a bottle.

Is cohesiveness like stack one the ideal?

Max: I think I shouldn't say ideally to know that any stack that we do that doesn't have that we're going to make great work out of it. So I think whenever we can, whenever the opportunity presents itself, the artists that are in the stack, will be working together in close proximity for the same amount of time on their project.

It's the only way this could have started, but it doesn't change the fact that the stack, at its simplest is three records coming out on the same release cycle does not need to have the same heart at all. It can be three very individual projects from three very individual artists held from three different cities. In fact, that's something that we're almost definitely going to try to tackle next

What is the goal of the HumDrum Press?

Max: We want to give a platform to people that are passionate about what they do and don't have a team to help them. We've seen for so many years, friends of ours, people we've been in music scenes with, they make really good art and not put it on a pedestal. It should feel special. It should feel like an event. So many people will just finish a record in high school or college and upload it to streaming with a small announcement for when it's out. We think that everything that comes out deserves the rolling out of the red carpet, no matter if, regardless of if it's music, videos, or anything.

Braeden: Like last year, I made this playlist with a goal to put every song released by an artist local to Bloomington, Indiana, in this one big list so that I and other people would could listen to it, maybe not even enjoy it, but just so that they could see the scope of what's really going on in the city. By the end of the year, it was like, nearly 12 hours long and I was looking through all these songs like, oh man, no one has ever heard any of these. They're all really great and fantastic in their own way, and so I think giving people a platform is important because, on the grand scale of things, there's so much good music that comes out all over the world, Bloomington, Chicago, New York, Kenya, that, realistically is not as visible as it could be, and the more that we can do to give those people the tools and the backing that they need to succeed if they want it is all the better.

Is this attitude limited to your releases or does it incorporate into the whole thing? 

Braeden: Like, the idea for us has always been that our marketing shouldn't be like marketing, our marketing is the cool and novel things that we do, not the act of posting about it. You know, theoretically, if you spend all day doing, you know, interesting and good things, you'll never need to think of something to post about, right? And logic is great because none of us can ever think of anything to post.   

Alright a quick end question: What is your favorite adult swim project currently?

Max Difrisco- Smiling friends! How that project came about is something I want this one to be very similar to.

HDP Stack 1: 

Braedens Local Playlist: 


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