By Jess Goulart
Photos courtesy of Miscreant Records.
“Go get weird in the sun,” concluded the latest post on the Miscreant Records website, a label created by Jeanette Wall because she “wants to have her friends’ music on vinyl so she can listen to it while she gets dressed in the mornings.”
A worthy goal, to be sure. We should all be so lucky as to be able to give back to the artists we love in the form of a successful, free-spirited platform.
That free-spiritedness is Miscreant’s most pervasive characteristic: a bright streak that runs boldly through their zine, shows, and bands. That encouragement for artists to be entirely whoever they are attracts a spectrum of emerging talents, like Comfy, PWR BTTM, and Fern Mayo. Plus, it’s what makes Miscreant stand out as non-conformist in an otherwise rather monochromatic scene.
BTR caught up with Wall to chat about how Miscreant got its start and unapologetically being yourself.
BreakThru Radio (BTR): As the founder of Miscreant Records, we’re guessing music is a part of your history.
Jeanette Wall (JW): Well, I grew up in the suburbs of Indiana. Growing up I learned about music almost exclusively from TV and film soundtracks, most notably Wayne’s World, until I got a subscription to Spin. When I was 13, I learned how to play bass guitar to impress a boy. I found myself doing music business-y type things as a teenager–I ran a couple of artists’ MySpace accounts.
Somehow that evolved into a music business degree. When I was in college, I started a label and a zine called Miscreant. Both were basically designed for me to learn about producing analog music and print media. I still run both, but also manage an artist and work as a project manager at ATO Records.
BTR: And how did Miscreant Records start?
JW: One night I was at a practice space in Syracuse with a band my friends had started called SSWAMPZZ. The guitarist of the band, Ray, got down on one knee and asked me to release their record in connection with the Miscreant zine my friend Lizzy and I had been putting out. I’d sort of toyed with the idea of starting to release records under the Miscreant name, but the SSWAMPZZ tape made it a reality.
BTR: How has it evolved?
JW: Luckily, as I started to learn what I was doing, more folks found out about the label. Even so simply as in the amount of artists. I thought I’d be putting out one or two releases every once in a while, but I’ve almost had a release a month this year. It’s really exciting! More people want to be a part of Miscreant, and our family started growing.
BTR: What is your selection process like?
JW: It changes from artist to artist. It would seem that it often works out that I’m friends with someone and find out they make awesome music. Sometimes the music comes before the friendship.
But I like to think that miscreants just have a way of finding each other.
BTR: What is Miscreant’s most fundamental difference from other labels?
JW: The attitude of the artists and the community around Miscreant are what I like to think make the label unique. I think that’s what makes every label distinct. Miscreant is all about creating something together while being unapologetically yourself.
BTR: What has been the greatest challenge for you guys?
JW: I think the challenge with any project you’re passionate about is really just figuring out what you want to do next and keeping up momentum. Early 2016 is uncharted territory for me, and I’m excited to see what the new year will bring.
BTR: Tell us all about that zine of yours! How do you curate? Who can contribute? What are some of your favorite pieces ever?
JW: Lizzy and I started The Miscreant one summer when we were both really bored. I wanted a place beyond my little Tumblr page to write about music and movies. It grew pretty quickly over that summer and after a couple months, we started having featured artist interviews I would put together. Lizzy did all the illustrations and covers. Basically anyone who wanted to, submitted, and lucky for me I know a lot of talented writers. That being said, anyone can contribute. I think even my parents contributed once.
It’s hard to say what my favorite pieces are. I’m super honored Eugene Mirman was on the cover. And Mitski’s piece in last year’s CMJ issue was truly moving. To be honest, it humbles me to think about all of the great submissions we’ve had published from so many people around the world. Hard to say!
BTR: What are Miscreant’s plans for the future?
JW: There are new releases coming from Comfy, Fern Mayo, PWR BTTM, Bethlehem Steel, i tried to run away when i was 6, and Jawbreaker Reunion. Hopefully a new Bad Cello record soon as well! Next year I want to release a comedy tape! In short: many, many more tapes.
Check out more from Miscreant Records and The Miscreant at their website.