as part of a new series focusing on indie labels, we introduce (those who don’t already know him) y’all to Ed Shelflife! Not too surprisingly, he also has a day job, is a massive karaoke aficionado, is a soccer dad, cat lover and longtime vegan! Shelflife has put out loads of records that we adore. Meet Ed…
chickfactor: What year did you start a label? Where? Why? Ed Mazzucco: Shelflife started in 1995 from my bedroom in Southern California. I was inspired by a lot of the great international bands I was discovering at the time and I really wanted to help get these bands a little more exposure in the US. That was basically the label’s mission at the time and our first release (the Whirl-Wheels compilation) was the product of that.
What has been the most fun bit about running a label? I love working with so many amazing artists and helping bring their visions to life. I never grow tired of holding a brand new release in my hands for the first time. It’s a pretty magical experience working from start to finish with our artists to create a product together that will soon be shared and loved by our community. I put a lot of time and energy into making each and every release the best it can be.
What have been the biggest challenges? Right now the vinyl production bottleneck is causing me quite a headache. It’s all a bit insane, going from 3-4 month to 6-7 month turnaround times. We are doing our best to navigate through it, but really hoping the plants can catch back up in 2022.
What are the top sellers of all time on yr label? Off the top of my head, probably Airiel, The Radio Dept, and The Ocean Blue.
What new stuff are you working on in the coming year? We just released wonderful new albums by The Catenary Wires (ex-Heavenly), Always You, and Pastel Coast. We haven’t announced our fall releases just yet, but there are some really exciting things coming up.
What labels have inspired you? Factory, Sarah, and Slumberland are the first to come to mind. Slumberland probably was the most influential for me in starting Shelflife. I still remember writing letters to Mike asking for advice.
How do you find new records (not on your label)? Usually word of mouth from friends or sometimes on Instagram.
What are some great record stores and mail orders still operating? I have to give a shout out to My Vinyl Underground in Portland, OR. Hands down the best indiepop shop around today.
Can people get your releases outside your country? Yes, but sadly shipping costs and taxes are making it harder these days. Our solution has been to work with an overseas partner label on most of our releases, so fans can have a local label to service them. That helps a lot with keeping shipping costs down.
What bands/records are you really excited about? I have been really into the new Lightning Bug “A Color Of The Sky” LP and Submotile’s “Sonic Day Codas” CD.
Last month Portland, Oregon’s Corvair released their wonderful debut album on the very fine WIAIWYA label out of London. The band is couple Brian Naubert and Heather Larimer, along with drummer Eric Eagle on the album. CF folks know Heather from her (John Peel approved!) band Eux Autres, whose music was used in TV shows and commercials as well. She’s also played on other folks’ record, including the Minus Five and Stephen Malkmus. Brian has played in loads of bands including Tube Top, the Service Providers and (solo as) Hoffabus. They’ve also created jingles! We caught up with Heather to see how she and Brian have been faring during this very weird era. Interview by Gail O’Hara
Chickfactor: How have you guys been holding up during COVIDtime? Heather Larimer: We are doing really well, actually. We had already basic tracked our record so once we went into lockdown, we were able to focus a ton on building up the record and playing around with ideas. We went through a lot of wine and candles trying to make quarantining a little less apocalyptic feeling. Having a project was so good for us. We would have lost our shit otherwise.
When did Corvair begin? We started writing the record about two years ago, not knowing exactly what the project was, just that we were collaborating. It’s funny how obvious it seems to us now—and it’s weird we didn’t try it a lot earlier.
Tell us about your nautical theme / water obsession on the new one. I guess there’s the obvious Jungian stuff, water as the unconscious. And then I think because Brian and I imprinted on each other when we were very young and then went our separate ways and reconnected, it’s really made both of us question what is volition and what is much deeper or older than our superficial daily “choices.” So this record is in so many ways Brian and I retrieving stuff from the deep—including our own painful early history together and the dark time that ensued when we tried to build lives apart that kind of collapsed. And then, his family is old-school Northwest people. S’Klallam tribe from Port Townsend and early settlers of the port town of Tacoma. But then there’s just the more associative and light parts, which were that we rented a cabin in Oceanside Oregon to go write songs and everything came together. We found all these sea creatures, which ended up being our album art. And we wrote a song about hope and added the words “Oceansided” at the end, because what does that even mean? And then we drove to “Cape Disappointment,” which is the best place name ever because some of the most instructive times in my life were when I miraculously got what I wanted and blam!—be careful what you wish for. This idea about finding land and with it, salvation and then…oh shit. So, we were both really feeling the symbolism and murky depth of the water stuff and we just ran with it. Plus, for videos it was pandemic-friendly—all we needed was a car and a camera.
How old were you when you started playing music? I started playing Sukuzi violin when I was about 6 and played until I was 14, and then I dabbled very lightly in bass and tambourine (haha!) and then when I was 28 I learned to play the drums and my brother and I started a band about a year later. I thought I was too old to start a band at the time. Ridiculous.
When did you write your first song? What was it about? Weirdly, Brian hung the lyrics to my first song on the wall of our studio. When I was 4, my dad typed up my song lyrics and later framed them once I was making music. I had forgotten all about it until Brian found them in the basement. The song is called “She’ll Never Let Me Play” and it’s about my mom, and my friendship with squirrels. It seems all cute at first but then it turns into a Steve Miller time-traveling diss track.
What were you like as a teenager? Very confused. I loved punk rock music like Hüsker Dü and the Replacements but I also hot-rolled my hair and wore, like, striped turtlenecks and scrunchies. It makes me laugh that I was too scared to play in a band or be in drama, because it’s obviously where I would have been happiest. I always sang in school even though I was never picked for the elite singing groups because I wasn’t showy or polished enough. I just cried bitterly into my scrunchie. But I’m like a cockroach. I come crawling BACK stronger!
Do you have kids or pets? I have two young sons, which is a trip, but they’re unbelievably sweet and weird. And a boy dog, a disturbingly muscular lab. Plus, Brian my husband slash bandmate. My house is a total sausage fest.
What else do you guys like to do besides making music? I like to write and read. And power lift. And travel. And snuggle the shit out of the kids and have movie nights. And then, Brian is one of the most well-traveled people I know, a great photographer and he loves to garden. That is the one activity I will never join him in. To me, gardening is a nightmare trifecta of tedium, dirt, and solar irradiation.
Your previous band was inducted into the Indiepop Hall of Fame recently. Tell us about that. That was such a thrill. I love that Eux Autres still matters to people. And that the song was “Other Girls,” which was the first or second song that Nick and I wrote together. We got to pick a location for our virtual commemorative plaque, and we chose Omaha’s Sokol Hall, which was an amazing place in our hometown that hosted bingo, gymnastics, polka lessons and all-ages punk-rock shows. I love Omaha so much.
Can you cook? What is your specialty? What’s in the fridge? I am a pretty dang good cook but I’m not very improvisational. I get uptight about the recipe. My best friend is the best cook I’ve ever known—she’s a food entrepreneur—so I always feel like a fool next to her. But she’s taught me some great stuff, just by virtue of the fact that she’s been feeding me for decades. And my mom and sister-in-law are also killer cooks. There’s always a lot of asparagus in our fridge for some reason. It’s so easy and toothsome. And pork. It’s the Other White Meat. Brian cooks a lot of brown rice and vegetable stir-fries that are great healthy staples; he’s a bold weekday improviser. I take us to the dark side of the fridge on the weekends.
What else is in the pipeline? We are going to record again in May, and we are so excited and nervous now that we have actual expectations, as opposed to last time when we were making it up as we went along.
What is Portland looking like at the moment? Portland is pretty devastated all around. The houselessness is like nothing I’ve ever seen. There’s graffiti on every surface city wide. And I’m so worried about the restaurant and food community, they are the heart of Portland. I have no idea what this city will look like in 12 months, but we are committed to staying here for a while. CF
10Records Heather Cannot Live Without Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville The Replacements, Let It Be The Kinks, Village Green Preservation Society The Cars, The Cars John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy Built to Spill, Perfect from Now On The Bee Gees 1st New Order, Substance Cat Power, Moon Pix
Musicians, writers, poets, fans and friends will play his songs, read his work/tributes and tell stories about the great American poet and songwriter David Cloud Berman (Purple Mountains, Silver Jews) on what should have been his 53rd birthday.
Rocketship Originally from Sacramento, Rocketship has been beloved among indie kids ever since releasing some early singles and A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness LP back in the early-mid-’90s. Currently based in Portland, Oregon, singer-guitarist-keyboardist Dusty Reske is still making music these days along with Ellen Osborn (vocals, keyboards). The lineup tonight also includes Adam Bayer (drums), Angie Fritz (bass) and John Jessee (keyboards). They will be playing a mixture of old and new songs from their new/forthcoming album, Thanks to You. Two of the songs, “Outer Otherness” and “I Just Can’t Get Enough of You“, from the new record have been released, with more to follow. The album is being mixed right now. This will be Rocketship’s first live show in Portland since 1996 (which Dusty thinks was with Boyracer, Henry’s Dress & the Softies), so it’s a huge deal and honor that they’re playing tonight.
Kites at Night
Formerly known as Imaginary Pants, the Vancouver, BC–based Kites at Night feature Rose Melberg of Tiger Trap & Softies fame and Lost Sound Tapes label boss Jon Manning, who have released an EP together already under the original name and played at some chickfactor parties. This will be their first official show in Portland. They’ll be joined by Jen Sbragia on bass. You guys know that everything Rose does is golden so do not miss this one!
Originally from Washington, D.C., Lida has released eight full-length albums, and other EPs, singles, remixes and collaborations since the late 1980s. Her most recent release was an EP called Future Ghosts of America (2016), a collaboration with Danish cellist-vocalist-composer Soma Allpass. Lida was on the cover of chickfactor 9 back in the day and we can’t wait to see her play again! She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.