Whelmed Records: “We just like bands that rock”

Whelmed Records: “We just like bands that rock”

By Chris Hilson

Feb 3, 2017 15:47

Whelmed Records may have only formed just over a year ago, but in the short time that the label has been active it has already earned a reputation for putting together a diverse, but high quality roster. I chatted to co-founders Kris and Jose to find out more about the story behind the label and their aims for the future.

It turns out that Kris had been thinking about starting a record label for a while, but it wasn’t until a friends’ wedding that he put the idea to best friend Jose. Thankfully Jose readily agreed, crediting his ability to sing along to Taking Back Sunday after a few beers as particularly impressing Kris. In Jose’s words “Two marriages actually happened that night.”

With the nucleus of the label now in place, they set about setting and then surpassing their own goals for what they wanted to do in their first year, Jose noting “I was simply blown away with what we achieved this year.” Starting with Tiny Kingdoms, Kris and Jose grew their line-up quickly adding Woolbright, Gauntly, and Holy Fawn to their family. All of their signings are going from strength, gigging constantly and all releasing new music, with the result being that Whelmed Records was, pun intended, overwhelmed with submissions from unsigned acts hoping to join the project.

No two bands at Whelmed Records sound alike and that variety reflects the eclectic tastes of Kris and Jose. It’s all too easy for a label to get pinned as having a certain sound and to back themselves into signing bands of sometimes indistinguishable similarity. Sometimes that works in a label’s favour, after all everyone remembers the pop-punk glory days of Drive-Thru Records. However all Kris and Jose are concerned with is signing bands of quality regardless of sound, resulting in pop-punk sitting comfortably side by side with indie-tinged rock and experimental post-hardcore. Kris puts it perfectly when he says “we just like bands that rock.”

One plus of being such a new record label is that they’ve been able to take advantage of the much changed landscape in which labels now operate. Kris credits firsthand experience of being in bands in the Myspace days as helping him be aware of the growing relationship between social media and music before it fully took off. Rather than just existing as an outlet for bands’ music, Whelmed Records wants to grow and change with the times. This in turn has influenced the way that they approach things, Kris noting that “we’re currently in an era where bands have more means and outlets than ever before to promote and distribute their content.”

Rather than be held back by outdated and traditional promotional methods both Whelmed Records and their signings are active on social media, making it easier than ever to promote gigs, EPs and albums, or just reach a much larger audience than was previously possible. Jose is certainly of the opinion that it’s easier than ever to start and maintain a fan base through the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but Jose and Kris both agree that it is crucial to maintain a human element to running the label.

2017 is already looking to be an equally as exciting and impressive year for Whelmed Records as 2016 was with a number of new releases already on the horizon and further additions to the roster in the pipeline. And for anyone looking to start a record label of their own, Kris has the following advice, “No matter how small it is, make a continuous effort to do something every day,” and as for Jose, he recommends learning coding and Photoshop and not to as he says, waste time trying to impress girls with your skateboarding skills as he used to.


Check out more from Whelmed Records over at their official website.