Graveface

Ryan Graveface

Graveface

The concept for Graveface hatched somewhere between 2000-2002 when I lived in Salamanca, Spain. I had a “partner” at the beginning, and I use that term very loosely. We shared the same ideals for about two-three years, and then he vanished, which turned out to be the best thing possible. We had a radio show and zine together called “Vapour Trail” named after a Ride song I was obsessed with at the time. On that radio show, I would make up a variety of band names and pretend I was about to play their latest single. Instead, I would actually play a new song I was working on live in the studio on one of a few instruments. The combination of doing that & receiving positive feedback from callers, going to amazing shows in Chicago all the time, interviewing bands for the zine and watching the “Fugazi: Instrument” VHS for the first time, it just made sense to start a label. Much like everything that was happening at the time, the name Graveface came to me in a dream. There's no meaning whatsoever. I was experimenting at the time with sleep deprivation, astral projection and all things lucid. That particular night involved mini-golf and fishing (!!) with an old friend, but in dream. Sounds insane that the name Graveface would come out of that, I know.

Although the first legit release for Graveface was in 2002 (Monster Movie/Dreamend split), I actually consider the beginning of the label to be around 2005 with the launch of Black Moth Super Rainbow's Lost Picking Flowers in the Woods CD/LP. At that time, I was working three awful jobs to keep the label afloat: One at a flower shop where the designer would threaten my life on a daily basis; one at a roach infested pizza place; and one as a sound engineer/stage hand for a wedding band. It was a fucking miracle I didn't end my life at that point. Because of all these jobs though, there was a bit of extra money to spend on something outside of the manufacturing itself. This is also the release that helped me get 'real' distro. 'Real' distro turned out to bite me in ass though.

In 2007, The Flaming Lips asked BMSR to open for them, and Tobacco asked if I'd join the group for that tour. I accepted and quit all of my jobs. I knew if I didn't force the label to start making enough money for me to survive, that it would remain a hobby label for the rest of my life. I never set out to create a weekend or hobby label. A great deal happened after that point. I got into a bunch of shitty situations with various distributors, some of which still owe me money. Just as my contract was about to be up with one, a flood happened in their basement, destroying a devastating amount of Graveface stock. They didn't have insurance, which started a three year legal back and forth that finally ended this past June.

After that happened in 2010, I got the fuck out of dodge. I felt the best thing for me to do would be to move south, which is something I always wanted to do. I'm happy I made that move, because since I've been here, I've opened up a record store/curiosities shop, started a production company (film), release waaaaay more records annually with the label and have most recently started up my own PR company with a few friends. It's a really supportive and loving community down here. In 2011 I started something called the Graveface Record Club. By joining this club you get the next 10 releases in all formats, exclusive colored vinyl, a subscriber shirt, digital copies *usually* before the rest of the world hears a record & and overall sense of fuck yes because you're a part of something nifty. I started it hoping that I'd get 50 subscribers and now I'm almost up to 300. That has been a really cool thing to watch grow. Meeting these folks out on tour and such has been radical.

Unfortunately, since the lawsuit was settled this June, things have been really rough. The post-lawsuit legal bills have been staggering. So a few weeks ago I launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign. It's basically a shopping cart of everything I've gotten back post-lawsuit in addition to talking boards, the new Marshmallow Ghosts 10″. test pressings, taxidermy etc. On a positive note, to close out 2013 for the label, I'm looking at some releases that I'm super super excited about. I've got full lengths from Stargazer Lilies (ex-Soundpool), Dosh, Xiu Xiu, The Casket Girls (one of my projects I write in), Dott and a few more surprises. For my shop in Savannah, I'm going to start offering classes in the store starting in the fall. Currently, there's a taxidermy class booked and an astral projection how-to class booked.

Since Graveface is such a personal label run by just me, I'm sure it's at least slightly interesting for any customer that's been with me for the past few years. It's an interesting 'challenge' to keep things personal as things get bigger and bigger. I recently hired my first employee to take care of mail-order though. I realized it's probably not the smartest idea to shut down completely a month at a time whilst I'm on tour. Every day is a fascinating learning experience though and I'm quite happy I chose this path. For the most part, the people that care about what I do seem to care an awful lot and that means the fucking world to me.

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