Boasting an already impressive roster of excellent local acts, Help Yourself Records started from an idea between friends in late 2012. Now the four person staff of Matt Kolhede, Jake Muilenburg, Sam Mouser, and Kim Roberts are well on their way of running one of Seattle's most compelling indie-rock labels. Armed with a motto to "put out as much stuff" as they can, I recently rapped with Matt and Sam about the ins and outs of Help Yourself Records.
Where are you from?
Matt: I'm from Oakland, California, but now I live in the U-District across the street from Safeway. Sam's from Poulsbo, Washington. Jake's from Vancouver, Washington. Kim's from Seattle.
Ubu Roi - HY001
What labels would you say interested you in starting a label?
Matt: I guess my interest in labels started with old hardcore labels like SST and Dischord. I remember listening to Minor Threat and seeing that Ian Mackaye started his own label to put out his own band's stuff, and then put out albums by his peers and just kept doing it. Same thing with Greg Ginn and SST, although Greg Ginn is a butt. I remember looking through those labels' catalogs and trying to download as many releases as possible. Those two kind of made me aware of record labels. Then from there I started to look at who was putting out what and started to become a fan of certain labels, in addition to being a fan of bands. Like Dirtnap in Portland and 1-2-3-4 Go! in Oakland. I'll listen to anything those labels put out.
What was one of your formative music experiences?
Matt: My senior year of high school I went to this thing called Hoodstock in Oakland. It was a mini-festival in a parking lot in not the best neighborhood in Oakland and it was wild. There was a little shack in the corner of parking lot with an overhang that the bands played under and tons of people showed up. People were hanging from the the roof of the shack, cars were getting smashed, people were going buck wild, and eventually the cops came and busted it up. I had been to a bunch of punk shows and DIY shows before, but never to this scale. It just seemed like a bunch of people had the idea for this thing and made it happen and it was totally crazy. Made me think that if other people can do stuff like that, why can't I?
Chastity Belt - HY002
How did you discover Chastity Belt? I mean not "discover," I mean, happen upon them.
Matt: I first saw Chastity Belt last summer at the Henry Art Gallery on the UW campus. My buddy Jake (co-creator of Help Yourself) was working at the cafe in the gallery and told me to come down and check it out. I sat and watched them play and totally loved it. I wanted to go up and say hi, but I got embarrassed because I was sweating profusely due to a combination of the heat and my poor warm weather wardrobe choices of black jeans, a navy blue shirt, and high-top black converse. So I ended up leaving right after they played and taking a shower. The next day I emailed them asking if they wanted to play a show with my band and they got back to me super quick saying they were down. I saw them play a bunch more times and we became friends, so when we decided to start the label for real, they were the first to come to mind because they're a really great band and real nice people.
How did you happen upon Ubu Roi?
Sam: Anyone who lives in the University District has probably seen Ubu Roi pushing their gear around the neighborhood in a Safeway shopping cart. Help Yourself Records is paying to retrofit their shopping cart so they can do a West Coast tour in the fall.
What's planned for the future of Help Yourself Records?
Sam: In September we will be putting out a Wimps 7'' EP called Party at the Wrong Time. There is another band that we are trying to sign at the moment called the Narx, but they are already famous. All bands signed to Help Yourself Records will receive a vodka Red Bull and a studded belt as a signing bonus.
What neighborhood does Help Yourself Records operate out of?
Sam: All shipments are received at my parents' house in Poulsbo, WA. You can send Help Yourself Records your demo tape "ATTN: CHRIS MOUSER" and my dad will tell us if it's any good. Other than that we are four friends that operate out of a cubicle downtown, a studio in the U-District, a 2-bedroom in the U-District, and a studio on Capitol Hill.
Visit the Help Yourself Records website right here.