Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Onset Of Horris Records

Recently, a fascinating press release came across the Count3rCu1ture News Desk (reprinted in part):

To Become The Official Home of "DIY/Punk Culture-Based Indie Rappers"

As the music-industry-at-large begins to shrink dramatically, the music underground is beginning to surge again. Seeing the dearth of attention given to the burgeoning indie rap culture growing within the punk world, world-renowned post-punk laptop rapper MC LARS has launched his very own label HORRIS RECORDS to help build and nurture the growing indie rap scene. "The goal with Horris is to help as many talented, like-minded, DIY / punk culture-based indie rappers have as many self-sustained careers as possible," explains the 'indie rap entrepreneur'. To launch the label, he has enlisted close friend/confidante/peer WEERD SCIENCE (a.k.a. Josh Eppard, ex-Coheed & Cambria/current drummer for rock band Terrible Things) to have the debut album to bear the Horris Records imprint. "I couldn't have signed a more amazing artist and I am going to help him blow up because I love him and his work so much." Weerd Science's
SICK KIDS comes out today, May 17, 2011.

A very tangible and encouraging indication of support MC Lars has with his fans and the indie rap culture is the incredible success of his Kickstarter campaign he launched in April 2011. With the initial goal of raising $5,000 to fund "video production, touring, mixing, mastering and sick merch," Lars raised a whopping total of $23,282 - close to five times his goal (his original amount was shockingly doubled in the first 48 hours alone). "It's crazy," he says excitedly. "Who needs the inefficiency, bureaucracy, and general ineptitude of a label when you can reach out to your fans on the internet and get a $23,000 advance for your next album based on your reputation alone?"
Named after a character from a classic 1987 movie called Monster Squad, Horris Records symbolically reflects Lars' own life (for accuracy sake, the film character's name was spelled "Horace"). "In Monster Squad, Horace gets bullied throughout the whole movie, but at the end, he whips out his gun and says, 'My name is Horace,' and no one messes with him anymore. It's a perfect metaphor for my experience in the once elusive and exclusive hip-hop game," explains Lars about the affront he experienced being a punk-based white rapper. "Weerd Science has a similar background and goals as me - a rock kid who played in bands but truly wanted to make hip-hop since that is his real love. I've been a fan of his since 2005."

With Weerd Science making the "artist introduction", Lars will be releasing a mixtape in June as a "label introduction," featuring KRS-One, Sage Francis, Grieves, Sole, MC Frontalot, Rittz, Scroobius Pip, Weerd Science... and his father. "The mixtape is the first in what I hope to be a series of free projects that highlight the diversity and my ability to network within our subgenre of rap," he says. "All of the rappers featured are people I reached out to directly and they all bring a different take to my 'post-punk laptop rap' style. The project features a bunch of collabs, including one with my dad, a California poet and spoken word artist known as MC Bob Nielsen."

With one release out today and the mixtape out next month, Lars is already strategizing and planning ahead. "The short term goal is to help Weerd Science brand himself as one of the dopest MCs in the game; the long term goal - notoriety for many years to come," he laughs. "I'm dropping my third official studio album,
LARS ATTACKS! this Summer and plan to put out many more albums. I'm also putting together a pilot this Fall for a hip-hop themed kids' TV show, featuring artists' friends as guests. It's going to be Pee-Wee's Playhouse meets Yo Gabba Gabba meets Sesame Street with a whole new twist. I'm stoked and I know you're going to love it!"

Horris Records' debut release Sick Kids by Weerd Science is out now. MC Lars and Weerd Science are currently touring the UK together and will be performing on the 2011 Vans Warped Tour all Summer long. Information on the mixtape,
LARS ATTACKS! and future releases to come shortly!

There are quite a few (probably pretty obvious) reasons why this made my ears perk up like Lindsay Lohan catching a whiff of coke. For one, the idea of “DIY” is one that I’m a very obvious champion of. Technology has afforded artists to get out from under or, in this case, even completely bypass the domineering corporate label system that has been the bane of creativity for decades. It also turns out that, in the words of Dave Mustaine, ”the system has failed,” which may leave up-and-coming artists (or those with the foresight and desire to abandon the corporate system) with no choice but to strike out on their own.

The creative freedom afforded to them is much more abundant and, as an added bonus, the money they make doesn’t have to be repaid to a label thanks to a ridiculous system where the artist owes the label much more for “advances” and “costs” after they’ve already done their part in making and promoting their record.

Think about it - how fair is it for someone to give you money up front for doing your job, but that money has to be spent on doing your job and your first several months (years?) of pay goes back to the company to repay that money you were given to do your job. With interest. How would any other company get away with that? Yet major labels have for decades - only now artists that are smarter to the system and that realize they can do it without that tyranny hanging over them. So, they do. And the end result is often much better in terms of product quality and fan service.

On top of all that, look at some of the names involved in this: MC Lars. Joshua Eppard (great guy to talk to). MC Frontalot. KRS-ONE. All very talented and dedicated to the art. This seems to already be in pretty good hands.

At the end of the day, all manner of artists in all manners of genres and styles are looking to make their own mark on their own terms. That particular mindset - not a specific type of artist or a personal favorite or only an exclusive genre - is what Count3rCu1ture is about. It’s about breaking barriers and crossing lines in order to make your mark, and to see a record label dedicated to that very mindset is right up my alley.

So, with that said and done...yeah, I’ll be interviewing both Lars as well as Eppard very soon. I’m curious to see what they have to say - Eppard about his time after I talked to him last being a member of Coheed & Cambria, and Lars about the label and his DIY ethic. Should be interesting stuff. In the meantime, check out the CNN video below to get a little more familiar with Lars and his new venture (and hear him talk about a lot of what I just did):

Oh, and don’t think I’m not chasing down KRS-ONE, either. I’ve wanted to talk to that man for years now, anyway.

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