I had the opportunity to speak to Jordan Weinstock and Mickey Yacyshyn of It Takes Time Records, a small DIY label based out of St. Louis, Missouri. In their time as a label, they’ve put out tapes for bedroom pop and lo-fi indie bands from across the globe, releasing the likes of Boosegumps, Generifus, and Sobs. Get to know these two folks as we spoke about their roots, creating a family label via an internet community and the best astrological signs for running a label (bonus points for all the cusp babies).
Jorge Velez of GrizzlyGround: So! You're both musicians! Can you tell me about your respective outlets and if operating a label has changed the way you run your projects? Furthermore, do you feel like you're influenced by any of the musicians you work with and you go into your own writing/recording processes thinking about producing physical product or working with a label?
Mickey: Camp Counselor is my main project and it serves as a vehicle to cope with some of my trauma while being able to do some of the fun stuff like experimenting with different tones and textures. In terms of how I run my project, the label doesn’t really influence my creative process in a rigid way, but I am definitely inspired by the artists we have released and of course by Jordan.
One thing working on the label has taught me is putting out music is far less daunting than I used to think it was, and it’s made me more courageous with my own music and voice. In terms of thinking about my material in relation to a label, I don’t really do that very much but I do try to get a cohesive texture/tone/vibe with each release now after working with the label. It’s easier for me to envision and execute a full product now too.
Jordan: I started ITT long before I ever started playing in bands, so I can’t say for sure if operating a label has had any sort of impact on my music seeing as I’ve never had it any other way. I currently play in a project called american poetry club, it’s a lot different from my old band, The Chair Enthusiasts, in the sense that I’m the principal songwriter. It’s a role I’m not super used to! In chairs we all brought ideas and created together, we all had pretty different influences and ideas, but were very much on the same page in terms of comfort of just throwing stuff out there and going with it. The current members of APC all have a lot more varied music experiences and aren’t necessarily comfortable making decisions, at least from my perspective, but I think those different experiences challenge us to work harder. And has allowed us to create a truly unpredictable energy at times!
APC started out as a side thing to help me deal with emotions I was dealing with at the time, now those have faded, but I still feel a need to create and express whatever truths I’m feeling. APC’s current incarnation helps me realize those visions and make them better than I ever could on my own. Plus it’s a good excuse to boogie with pals. I don’t think the artists on ITT have influenced me in any specific way, outside of the fact that they make me want to work so much harder. Their passion for their art and constantly improving songwriting makes me smile a million times over and want to write songs that will one day be as good as theirs.
Jordan Weinstock of ITT
Both really beautiful answers that I think speak to a similar truth, something about accessing your voices with the label's draw of talent just deepening that passion. Very cool to consider that you both didn't start as musicians entering the label, but were drawn towards making very reactionary, emotive art. This type of art often physically manifests itself in rushed, more "lo-fi" bedroom recordings and I notice a lot of your artists on your label have a sound in-line with that. Is there a consistent thread to what y'all decide on releasing, or what influences the release process?
Jordan: I think a lot of that is just because we put out the stuff we like! And we happen to like a lot of lo-fi stuff, I think if ITT had the chance to put out a record by like parliament-funkadelic we wouldn’t hesitate, or at least I wouldn’t. It’s less about consistency and more about our friends, we put out stuff by people we believe in.
Mickey: For me, I have an easier time connecting with lo-fi music. I wouldn’t say that it’s because it’s rushed, but because the tones in lo-fi music are very warm and comforting. I like the contrast of that comfort paired with emotionally vulnerable art. In terms of what we end up putting out on the label, I think my draw to lo-fi is definitely apparent, but not necessary for all of our releases. We really try to just release music that we connect with and love.
As far as running the label, what have been some of your biggest accomplishments? Some of your biggest struggles? What would you say are your biggest goals?
Mickey: I’m really proud of the compilation tape and trading cards we put out in October. A struggle for me is being someone who can’t afford to give the label as much time as it deserves, as I have to completely support myself. Sometimes the label suffers as it has to take a back seat to life, and it’s hard finding that balance for me mentally between time on my passion and doing the work to afford my passion, plus time to myself so I’m not always drained. A big goal I’d like for us to set up is a yearly festival in St. Louis that is attractive to touring bands as to put St. Louis more on the map.
Jordan: Accomplishments! We’ve managed to create a really nice family and some amazing relationships through ITT. I guess more on the surface level, we once got an NPR premiere which was cool, although that’s definitely more due to the nature of the artist than it was us. From a struggle standpoint, it was really hard to figure out how to create a place for ITT for a while, as it was real hard to get people who I thought I wanted to notice us to notice us in the beginning. Eventually, I realized though that that wasn’t the reason I should be promoting tapes, and screw them if they don’t want to give our stuff a listen. It’s about making the artists feel supported and loved and finding a way to connect with an audience who actually cares! Not some freaking tastemaker bullshit.
I love that both of you seem really dedicated to carving out your own space for yourselves as a label. I want to talk about St. Louis. Can y'all speak to the St. Louis scene, and furthermore, does your locale in St. Louis influence y'all as a label?
Mickey: Well, I just moved here in December so that influences my perspective, but when considering where to move and visiting Jordan in St. Louis, I immediately knew St. Louis was underrated and needed to be cherished more. The city both inspires me and motivates me creatively to do more and be better and try harder.
Jordan: Coming from New York it was a huge change. I never felt comfortable or wanted at shows until I came here, we have such a vibrant scene full of people creating art because they have to, not because it’s cool or because it’s going to lead to some specific future and that was huge for me. Obviously the city and scene both have problems, but there is something so vital about everyone here.
Mickey: There are so many talented people here making music that get overlooked and I really want to find a way to provide a platform that encourages more bands to come here and play here so they see what our scene has to offer.
Mickey Yacyshyn of ITT
I'm glad to hear the community is super warm and welcoming in St. Louis. In thinking about community and family, how do you foster the sense of family radiating from your label? Especially given that so many of your relationships with your artists exist on the internet. Can y'all speak to the compilation of your artists you put out last fall, and how and why it came together?
Mickey: Well, when Donald Trump got elected we talked about doing a benefit compilation to use our platform to mean something more than the art we love. However, as the transition to 2017 was really hard on both of us it didn’t quite come together, but we had both already talked about wanting to use our platform to bring all our artists together and make something powerful, so we just reached out to everyone on our label to see who was interested and what else they wanted to offer.
Jordan: I second all of that.
Mickey: The community of our label family is the most important part to me and I’m very happy with the result of that compilation. We had already decided in October and it fell right after the verdict which shook the nation, and more specifically St. Louis for us. To keep in mind where we came from, we donated the proceeds to the St. Louis legal fund, an organization that provides funds for the court and legal costs of activists in St. Louis.
It’s very meaningful that y'all put social action into your work and art. What are your label's roots and where do you see yourselves headed?
Jordan: I started the label in high school because I didn’t think I’d ever write good songs, and really wanted to be involved in an art I loved so much. I figured the next best thing was to help others create that same art. Honestly, I’m not sure where the label is headed, I try not to think super far ahead. I think we’ll just keep putting out sick releases and strengthening our family.
Mickey: My roots are different than Jordan’s and are more painful which is why I love Jordan so much, because a lot of the reason I am able to still participate in DIY at all is because of him. I owe him a lot, I came out of a bad spot mentally and emotionally and Jordan has supported me and allowed me space in ITT to offer what I can to help further our vision of community around art. The future is nebulous for all of us, but I’d like to see ITT doing a St. Louis festival and starting to book tours and provide more resources for our artists we love.
Can y'all offer advice to some folks who may want to start their own label?
Mickey: That they should do it if they absolutely love it! It is the most rewarding thing I have ever done, but it is a labor of love and you have to be willing to give that and forgive yourself when you can’t.
Jordan: And do it on your own terms! Don’t let anyone else tell you there’s a right or wrong way to do it!
My last main question is a bit of a silly one, but because I love astrology I have to ask. I find it fascinating you're both cusps, can y'all speak to your astrological signs and how you feel like they influence you running a label?
Mickey: Wow, yes, this is my favorite question. Being a Scorpio / Sagittarius is a plus in terms of managing this label because I am inherently passionate and all or nothing. I think my drive gives a lot to the label.
Jordan: What is a cusp? I don’t know heck about this stuff.
Mickey and I proceed to explain to Jordan what an astrological cusp is and what it means that he is a Taurus/Gemini cusp.
Mickey: Jordan has good intuition and I think that stems from his air sign. Even though he can be particular about some things he is usually right, and it helps to guide us when I have a hard time making decisions.
Finally, any shout outs y'all would like to give? Anything y'all would like to announce with regards to your label or yourselves?
Mickey: Jordan’s new record is amazing and we have some stellar releases lined up for this year.
Jordan: Mickey’s new record is gonna be lit too.
You can listen to It Takes Time Records compilation,“no such thing as too old”,here. You can connect with Jordan and Mickey on their Facebook or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.