Hausu Mountain

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A Chicago label formed by Star Twins born in the third reign of the Great Porpoise King.

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Doug Kaplan & Max Allison | April 30, 2014

Hausu Mountain

I met Max at Northwestern in 2008, and we formed a band together called The Earth Is A Man, which also features Zach Robinson (aka D/A/D). Max is my man. We’ve been roommates for three years now. We started Hausu Mountain in 2012, and wherever we’ve lived has been the label office—currently, it’s our home named Randall in Logan Square, Chicago. Though our mothers would disagree, I know that I am Gork and Max is Gorm and we are Star Twins (™). We were born on the same star back during the third reign of the Great Porpoise King when the constellation Slimer crested into the house of Bob Marley. We had a skilled craftsman at a flea market hand-inscribe an amulet commemorating the birth of our love.

Like some of our biggest heroes (Ralph Records, Takoma Records, Hanson Records), our label began out of a necessity to have an outlet to release our own music. I had been working on an album with my old and dear friend Aeron Small (Dr. Ron) for around a year and I knew that no one would put it out but us. Our band Good Willsmith was also just getting rolling at the time and we wanted to have stuff to sell on the road. When we started out, I was interning at Thrill Jockey (where I now work part-time) and had previously interned at the Numero Group. I communicated with a lot of labels in my time managing WNUR at Northwestern, so I had at least a grasp on what some other tiny imprints were up to. Working with Erik (my co-worker who runs Immune Recordings) taught me a lot about the biz—I remember we went to the California Clipper and sat down with a notepad and Zoom recorder and he talked about “how to run a label” for three hours or so. Great Zones: Formative Moments.

Our first release came out in July of 2012: Good Willsmith, Is the Food Your Family Eats Slowly (HAUSMO 2) on cassette to coincide with our tour that summer. The Big Ship, A Circle Is Forever (HAUSMO 1) LP/CD was the first release we started planning, and it came together in March 2013: we got flat-stock jackets, hand assembled them, pasted on liner info, and hand painted them. Almost everything we’ve done since then has evolved out of personal friendships or from our fanboy obsessions. We champion music that we consider to be boundary pushing, forward thinking, and unique within an artist’s context or methods of creation, regardless of genre. In some cases, our friends brought us an album that we loved fully formed, and in other cases, a bud came to us advocating another bud’s music and we shared their love for the material. Our “curation” of the roster has unfolded in the chillest way imaginable, and we’ve taken on enough commitments at this point to keep us busy for a year in advance.

Media:

Max Allison: Our love for the sound, touch, and appearance of vinyl records and cassette tapes arrives via wormhole from decades we didn't live in: the ‘70s and the ‘80s. We were born right on the analog-digital fold (Doug: 1988, Max: 1990), and carry some contradictory listening practices and philosophies because of this. But all we care about is the music. The best way we know to hear and pay attention to music is by sitting down at home and listening to a physical release. 320kbps MP3s are great and all, and definitely yield their own solid listening experiences, but we love to handle artwork, sleeves, plastic shells, inserts, etc. We love to crank up the volume and hear medium-derived details in EQing, warm textures, palpable bass. We love to look at a merch table at a show and freak out over tour only tapes and shirts and LPs we thought were sold out but, “Whoa you have copies still?” By the same token, we love to provide our friends (and ourselves) with interesting looking objects to potentially catch eyes at merch tables across the world and spark new relationships with zoned out weirdos like us.

How does one sell experimental vinyl and cassette tapes? At this stage, we’ve learned the answer is: “make friends.” Everyone wants to connect, and every person we reach can keep our dreams and business alive for future releases—or can just listen and pass it on. Independent of sales, we hope the music finds its way to other people by any means possible. Our strategy isn’t “make friends only with people like us.” Many times the people that come to dig what we release approach it from totally different tastes and musical backgrounds. There are people we connect with instantly based on a shared enthusiasm for, say, live-looping electro-acoustic improv, and then there are other friends who glacially creep into new interests or suddenly won over by something they never expected to hear. We work together with artists, labels, distros, and blogs to continue a tidal shift in listening and creating away from the Easy (or call it: familiar, comforting, reinforcing) and toward the Challenging (or call it: unpredictable, mind-bending, transformative) side of the musical spectrum. The joy we’ve derived in our own personal lives from engaging with this tradition of challenging music motivates us to release music, just as it motivates us to buy, pore over, and vouch for music by other people. To all of the distros (Experimedia, Thrill Jockey, Carrot Top, Norman, Morr Music, Meditations, more) and fans helping us spread the love and the chaos, infinite thanks.

We perceive digital files as more of a public commodity, out there floating online in the musical ether that anyone, if they exert a little effort, can download for free. If we’re lucky enough for a listener to care enough to seek out our music, versus endless other options, we want them to encounter a minimum of obstacles in that process. We can't expect people that link to our Bandcamp from a blog post or randomly stumble onto it by Googling “is Will Smith a good actor” or “dead people in my dreams” (this happens) will pay to download an album of cosmic synth loops or extended noise improv. But if we offer it for free, maybe more adventurous listeners will be curious enough to dig deeper, and will even pick up a tape down the line if they make their way back. We’d rather keep the files free for everyone, and focus whatever little money there is in “the market” toward the physical object (and we always include the digital files with the physical purchase). For more substantial LP releases, we settled on charging $5 for the digital files of artists other than ourselves—to do as much justice as possible to musicians we love, for whom we would tread into the questionable financial prospect of releasing experimental music. Some of our albums are on iTunes. If you’re buying our music there, you’re on your own, or you’re one of our grandparents’ friends or aunts about to confront some wacked-out shit. Sorry y'all.

More Independent Music
Starring

Roster / Rasta:

DK: Our first release outside of our projects was Moth Cock, Bremmy (HAUSMO 6). Max got their tape on Human Conduct and it blew our minds completely. Moth Cock are the most inspiring band in the world to us. They generate truly dense and chaotic zones, with a pervy Loaf-core sense of humor, but they approach it with such a humble, chilled out mindset and use such stripped-down gear. Bremmy was also a great way to get into working with other peeps because Doug and Pat are the friendliest dudes ever and have already rightfully earned their status as legends of noise.

We’ve been rocking out to Zach Robinson’s music as D/A/D since he first started composing in his college dorm in 2008. Our friendship with Zach was forged in basement practice spaces and the stages of dive bars (aka the floor), and we just want to support him and his vision through whatever new zones it takes him. It’s been great to see his fanbase grow and to see people respond positively to music that he labored over for years. His album The Construct (HAUSMO 12), and the “Orion Beach” music video by our bud Campbell Logan continue to drop our jaws, and definitely exposed HausMo to unlikely demographics.

Black Hat (Nelson Bean) was introduced to us by our good friend Aaron, who also introduced me and Max to Natalie in Good Willsmith. On our first tour we played with his band Thousand Statues in Seattle in summer 2012 (our first ever out of state show). Nelson’s music and ideas amaze us. He creates such introspective atmospheres that bubble with obscured melodies, polyrhythms, and textures. His LP Thought of Two (HAUSMO 13) was our first vinyl release by a project other than one of our own—we still spin it as much as ever, and continue to find new details. Our west coast Black Hat / Good Willsmith tour in summer 2013 was an incredible experience—we bonded eternally, and created some extreme overlapping zones on bills every night.

Mike Sugarman has been a close friend since college. Though he graduated from Columbia, he spent his Freshman year at Northwestern with me and Max. He and I met doing the rock show at WNUR and quickly realized that we were kindred spirits. His music as Sugarm (HAUSMO 15) captures his personality perfectly: intelligent, rowdy, complex, omnivorous, weird as hell. He’s our brother in perviness, one of our greatest allies in the world, and hung like a horse. Shug, Max and I recorded some music that will violate multiple international laws and all sense of good taste and propriety if it sees the light of day. One day soon the three of us will live in the same city and finally coalesce into one Cronenberg-demon-mutant-baby and exist as one body in a state of perfect synchros.

Sugarman connected us with his Brooklyn comrades Grasshopper for a The Big Ship show at Union Pool in early 2013. That’s when Jesse DeRosa and I met on the physical grid and realized that we’re probably clones of the same space father {Jerry}. The Grasshopper dudes (Jesse, and Josh Millrod) released solo sessions on our ongoing Mugen Series of live session tapes (HAUSMO 10), and their album Dark Sabbath: Symbols of Evil (HAUSMO 16) is the next LP we’re releasing. We could not be more stoked. We consider them the young gods of drone/noise improv, high concept experimentation, dark music that we strive to make ourselves in Good Willsmith and other projects. These bros also connected us to the brilliant Mr. Matthews, and indirectly to his Telecult Powers bandmate / hoodoo zonelord Witchbeam—both of whom we’re featuring in the next batch of Mugen tapes (HAUSMO 23). The BK posse recently expanded, much to our delight, to include Jerry Paper and Andy Boay (HAUSMO 19) and Eartheater (Alex Drewchin of Guardian Alien, whose album Metalepsis comes out later this year)—in other cases of us hitting on the artists we love on the internet.

Max found a couple Lockbox (Jesse Briata) tapes and we fell in love with his music. We set up a show with him at Rhinoceropolis with Good Willsmith on the way out to the west coast in summer 2013 and crashed in his dorm in what seemed like the most zoned-out college apartment complex evar. To us, Jesse represents a hopeful vision of the future of music and the next generations. Prince Soul Grenade (HAUSMO 14) and all of his recordings are too deep to ever fully unpack. He displays such insane creativity in terms of samples and tones and rhythms, and he attacks the listener from so many angles and pleasure zones. He is a flower child peace starfish viz deity, bearer of the freak flag, and we always flip out over everything he sends us (especially the album he dubbed over a painted Big Fat Liar VHS tape).

[Lockbox – “Human Makeout” video]

Our bud Brad Rose introduced us to William Selman online and his album of dub-infused modular synthesis Equatorial Night (HAUSMO17) was and remains the only release we’ve accepted based on a demo submission. In an infinite sea of one-take synth loopers and found tape collagists (we’re guilty of both), Bill’s masterful attention to tone and rhythm, hi-fi production quality, and chill professionalism set him miles above. We knew we would say yes from the first 30 seconds of hearing “Equatorial Night,” and walk around every day with that bassline in our heads.

The Future:
In May:
Mugen Vol. 5: Spectrum Control / CarRl (CS)
Mugen Vol. 6: Quicksails / Headboggle (CS)
Mugen Vol. 7: Fluxbikes / Quidditas (CS)
Mugen Vol. 8: Witchbeam / Mr. Matthews (CS)

Beyond:
Grasshopper, Dark Sabbath: Symbols of Evil (LP/CS) ~June, 2014
Eartheater, Metalepsis (CD/CS) ~ June, 2014
Form A Log / Moth Cock split LP
Tapes rby Mondo Lava, Tiger Village, Dreamcrusher, TALsounds, Ron Tubman, Versionary.
The Earth is a Man, Pargon (cassingle)

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