AN INTERVIEW WITH GIRLSVILLE RECORDS
One of the most exciting and focused DIY labels shakin' up ear drums and outdated mindsets everywhere right now is the incredible Girlsville Records. Based in Portland, OR their eclectic aesthetic, mostly powered by cassettes, is providing a spotlight for some incredibly powerful new artists as well as some completely essential reissues. We had a chance to sit down with CJ and discuss music, art, politics and the many reasons Girlsville is a cut above the rest. Crankin' out a steady stream of incredible limited edition releases that not only consistently sell-out but also promote social awareness with a conscience. What a concept?!?!
ORIGIN OF THE NAME GIRLSVILLE?
CJ: Girlsville is the title of Thee Headcoatees debut LP from 1991. I thought it sounded like a really cool name for a label.
AT ITS INCEPTION, WERE THERE ANY SPECIFIC MANTRAS THAT SET GIRLSVILLE APART FROM OTHER LABELS?
"END PRISON SLAVERY," "ABOLISH FUCKING ICE,” "PUNCH NAZIS," "ACAB" and "BLACK TRANS LIVES MATTER" are some of our mantras.
DECIDING FACTOR FOR YOU TO START THIS LABEL?
Coachwhips. I started doing the label the night I saw Coachwhips in San Francisco. Being a fan and wanting to participate in the culture with other freaks n weirdos.
WALK US THROUGH YOUR FIRST DAY AS A LABEL.
I went to a show and I asked John Dwyer if he wanted to do a record on my label and he said yes. So I was like shit I better start a label then.
AFTER COACHWHIPS, WHO WAS THE NEXT BAND YOU WORKED WITH? HOW’D THEY CATCH YOUR ATTENTION?
The next band on Girlsville that I did a proper EP with is Towanda. All gal Melvins-ish weirdo sludge punk. Really slow and heavy sound. Tough hooks. Kinda menacing sounding and weird. I heard their tape Plaything and had heard them talk about recording a follow-up EP, but then they went quiet, so I started bugging them about putting it out simply as a fan I wanted to hear that shit and see it released. So we put that one out together.
PREFERRED FORMAT OF LISTENING TO MUSIC?
No ANY format can sound good. Quite frankly, I think the fetishizing of format is bourgeois horseshit. In record shops I'm drawn to cut out bins. Where can I find the 80's hip hop tapes or the 90's CDs? Or the 70's vinyl overstock cut outs. Discount 45's. I love b-sides and compilations.
I also love listening to community radio a lot. Shout out to WFMU, CKCU, WMBR, KFAI, and all those folks! Modern Kicks on KFAI plays a really heavy amount of all new shit and it’s all good to great. Every week. Love podcasts too, I love "Just Some Punk Songs" and "Futures and Pasts."
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ‘GIRLSVILLE SOUND’ TO SOMEONE?
Girlsville has a strong aesthetic sensibility, but not one uniform sound. My hope is that people can thread the needle, aesthetically speaking. My last few releases have been influenced by 80's HC (Hood Rats), sludge punk (Towanda), and then a heavy synth and post punk vibe mixed with garage and pop on Various Artists: Our Voltage.
WHO IS THE MOST RECENT BAND YOU’VE DECIDED TO WORK WITH? HOW DID THEY CATCH YOUR ATTENTION + HAS THAT PROCESS EVOLVED FROM HOW BANDS FIRST CAUGHT YOUR EYE?
Hood Rats are the most recent. They are from Montreal. It's like 80's hardcore/skate punk. They contacted me & submitted an album they'd recorded and I liked it so much that I immediately agreed to release it. It's the first and only time that has happened. Historically I've pursued bands I want to work with, but I take it as a compliment that bands are starting to get in touch with me.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGES THAT GIRLSVILLE IS A PLATFORM FOR BRINGING OUT TO THE FOREFRONT OF CULTURE OR EVEN JUST REPRESENTING?
Girlsville is explicitly and militantly anti fascist, anti racist, anti reactionary. We are pro-rawness and pro fucking shit up. We believe strongly in the abolition of prisons and we call for an end to the exploitation of inmates as cheap labor (slavery). We suggest people learn about the #PrisonStrike and find a way to support it!
WHAT’S NEXT FOR GIRSVILLE?
I've got expanded reissues for Mr. Airplane Man and The Prissteens planned. I'm working actively on the Mr. Airplane Man one right now. I just did a Coachwhips reissue. I have plans to do a tape with UK GOLD (Olympia, WA) and VIRVON VARVON (London, UK). There's been talk of collaborating with other labels.
WHAT’S THE BEST UNEXPECTED PART OF RUNNING A LABEL? WORST?
Best part: music, friendships, and community. Worst part: International shipping costs are pretty wack. Not too many downsides! If i'm plugging away and it's kinda paying for itself, I think it's a worthwhile pursuit.
BEST ADVICE FOR A BAND STARTING OUT? LABEL?
Bands, utilize Bandcamp! Or start your own label and put out you and your friends’ bands on it. Best advice to labels is you are not really needed, so have a really strong aesthetic, sensibility and vision, and then trust and push that sensibility sonically and politically, until you become a part of the soundtrack to the total and complete destruction of capitalism as we know it.