“I don’t want it to be over-glorified, if that makes sense. This is a new thing for me, like a 2017 experiment. I really hope it goes well, and I’ll need the artists to help me and teach me the whole time,” Madeline Kenney says about embarking on Copper Mouth Records. “With what’s going on in the world — this week has terrified me so much — we need to keep making art; it’s the most important thing to me.”
Madeline Kenney is a musician who lives in Oakland. She is starting Copper Mouth Records as, more than anything, a resource and platform for the people she cares about to make music they care about. Although her band’s music is released through Company Records, an imprint of Carpark Records, she plans on releasing some material from side projects through her new label.
“Already, the difference between Pregnant, Perhapsy, and Chris’ music is so different, and it excites me that we don’t have a specific sound — that makes me happy,” Kenney said. She brought up Matador Records, a label she loves, but that has a signature sound — for her, that’s not really an explicit tenet. Moreso than a streamlined sonic or genre-specific aesthetic, Copper Mouth Records seems intent on coherency at an interpersonal level.
What’s interesting about the label’s formula (or lack thereof) are the varied ways artists have entered Copper Mouth’s orbit, or vice versa. For example, Madeline met Daniel Trudeau from Pregnant at one of their shows. “After the show I was like, You’re amazing, what the heck.” Derek Barber is Perhapsy, and he also plays in Madeline Kenney’s band, and he is close friends with Chris Alarie, who lives in Brooklyn via Oakland. The situation feels analogous to a chicken-or-egg situation, except the subjects are music and friendship.
“I’m not financially in a place where I can just pay for a bunch of PR, pay for physical copies. I’m still definitely working a day job to be able to make music,” says Kenney, who works as a children’s music teacher. She teaches kids how to play piano and sing, and occasionally about the Beatles, and probably a little Billy Joel. In a several weeks, she and Derek are playing SXSW as Madeline Kenney, and she’ll be touring solo as Madeline Kenney, accompanying bills with Company Records label-mates Chaz Bundick and The Mattson 2. To start a record label is a pretty committed gesture from someone whose life is already suspended in music, a gesture emblematic of her all-around want for more music, more art, and the personal sense of resolve music-making brings her and her friends.
“It’s so easy to be discouraged. People do it all the time. If you’re a girl you’re not pretty enough, you’re not cute enough, you’re not unique enough. If you’re a dude, you’re not cool or quirky enough. People make you feel like crap, and you shouldn’t feel like crap when you make your art,” Madeline said. “And again, I’m not trying to be a saint, I’m not trying to save the world, but I hope I can help a couple of my friends escape that trap of feeling bad about yourself.”