Doug Kaplan: I’m MrDoug. Hello! I’m almost 30 years old and live in Logan Square with Max. I grew up in the northern suburbs as a lil flower punk and have become this: If I were forced to describe myself in four words, I would choose Deadhead, Phan, Juggalo, Parrothead.
When did you guys first meet and come together to start Hausu Mountain?
DK: Max and I were both students at Northwestern. We met at a party at my house, Xanadu, in the summer of ’08 right before our sophomore year. Later that week, we were hanging out and playing music together. Shortly after, we formed an instrumental rock band called The Earth is a Man – which was active up until 2012. After we graduated in 2011, we moved to Chicago together and have been roommates ever since. We started HausMo in 2012 to release music our own music with Good Willsmith, The Big Ship, and solo zones. Soon after we started working with our other bandmates on their solo material (artists like D/A/D, TALsounds, Ron Tubman), and blindly reached out to Moth Cock after falling in love with some of their tapes. Between 2012 and 2015 we were touring regularly, playing shows all over the country with like-minded musicians. The majority of the HausMo artists are people that we met on the road in that period of time.
As you look back on those early years of being a label, how were you able to develop that trust with artists?
DK: We’ve always tried to put a strong emphasis on working with people that are in our community. Almost all of the artists we’ve worked with were friends before we started any sort of working relationship with them. We’ve always given the artist the final say regarding album artwork, music, biographical materials, etc. We’ve always tried to be as professional as possible when interfacing with the “Music Industrial Complex” — giving each release/batch of releases the same amount of attention in terms of publicity & distribution. We try to treat our artists well because they’re our friends and we love them and want to do it up for them.
Over these six years, how have you seen your job as running a label change?
DK: A lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same too. In the beginning, our roles were less defined and we both dipped around everywhere. It’s still just me & Max running the label, but now that we have RedEye handling our store sales & digital distribution we have a little more time to work on other biz. In general, Max handles pre-production and design — usually working two to four months out on album artwork, biographical material, and getting everything ready to order. I handle day-to-day operations and production. I do all of the shipping, social media/newsletter-y stuff, work with manufacturers and other vendors to get the media ready, and communicate with our distributors. I also occasionally do audio work for our more noised-out releases. Our shared responsibilities include curatorial decisions, handling press campaigns, and communicating with artists.
In 2018 and in the future, is it more important for artists to have a label or less important?
DK: Yes. But you gotta know that you’re talking to two dudes that are fully sold on the power of record labels. It’s definitely less important than before for some artists. Kids can point to people like Macklemore or Chance the Rapper and be like — they were able to do it without a label, and I’m not here to discredit that… but for every Macklemore, there are a zillion projects that don’t get any ears on them. Labels in the Bandcamp era are digital galleries that build a rapport with the WWW audience over time. When we put out a new album, fans of HausMo are likely to check it out because they know that it will be challenging-yet-fun. Even if they’ve never heard of the artist, the HausMo association is a stamp of approval. In our music community, the most successful artists tend to work with numerous like-minded labels. This is probably the best strategy for experimental-leaning musicians trying to get as many ears as possible on their work.
On February 23rd, you guys debuted an LP from ADT dropping on 100% phonographic, vinyl record. Why is ADT a band that is near and dear to your hearts?
DK: We’ve been seeing ADT perform regularly for years and years, zipping through numerous lineups, noodling into oblivion under the West Virginia stars… They’re all close friends, people that we see all over town, and integral members of the Chicago music community. We had already worked with ADT’s drummer – Ben Billington – on his solo material as Quicksails. As soon as they sent us the mixes, we were 100% into doing an LP. Up until this year, we’ve cranked out 1-2 LPs a year. ADT will be the first of 3x vinyl releases in 2018. We’re definitely moving towards doing more LP projects going forward as the cassette stockpile continues to dwindle away.
Favorite project released?
DK: Whichever one is coming next.
Favorite thing about Chicago’s music scene?
DK: I feel like there are two separate underground music communities in Chicago. The rock’n’roll one, and everybody else. I never get invited to any rock’n’roll shows, but I can say that the intersectionality of the everybody-else shows is amazing. I feel like most of the bills I’m seeing are like — a techno act, a free jazz improv thing, some sort of ambient drone, and then a comedy gore performance art set. People have been doing a great job at keeping the sounds diverse and keeping all sorts of people included in the fun.
Least favorite thing about running a label?
DK: Randos cornering me at concerts and trying to pitch their demo while I’m trying to enjoy a night out with friends.
One band you would love to release a project for?
DK: The Residents
Why is Hausu Mountain important to the music industry?