RECORDS FROM INDIANA
"From the beginning I realized that distribution is perhaps the most important as well as the most difficult aspect of running a label. We all worked hard to secure distribution from the very beginning and were fortunate enough to secure solid distribution and thus build upon that. That has been and will continue to be a major challenge and that's a good example of the challenges that make it worth doing this. The other part that makes it all worthwhile are the relationships that are built, especially with the artists. It's great to forge relationships with such talented people especially when these people are genuinely nice and sincere."
Matthew Wascovich interviews label master Jonathan Cargill
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3AM: Please give a bit of background about yourself?
JC: I was born in Indiana, raised in South Carolina and went to college at the University of South Carolina and Indiana University. At the USC is where I played with a band that, once I left, became one of the best known bands in America. I left to come to Indiana University, which is where Secretly Canadian was started.
3AM: Tell us about your two labels, Secretly Canadian and Jagjaguwar. How did they start?
JC: Overall, the "story" surrounding the formation of SC is not that exciting. It wasn't as if we were in an 80's hardcore band and needed a way to release our own records. Nor was it because labels in the area were neglecting certain bands or styles of music. We aren't in a band, and there really aren't other labels in the area, so everyone was being neglected equally. Secretly Canadian began simply because we wanted to do it, it sounded like fun, and at least for me, it had always been a dream to run my own label. Everything started to come together in the spring of 96, at this time Chris Swanson and Eric Weddle were in enrolled here at Indiana University. They met while working at WIUS, the college radio station here. I was working as a cafeteria manager at one of the dorms, as was Chris, though he was just washing dishes. Over the weeks of working at the cafeteria, we got to talking about music and aspects of the industry and hatched some ideas about starting our own label. Chris later spoke to Eric about it and he was in agreement with what they wanted to do. Then Ben, Chris' brother who was living in Fargo at the time, was also brought in. This was all around April of 96. Shortly after that, sometime in 1997, Eric left Secretly Canadian to pursue his own label Family Vineyard. That's also the time that we became aware of Jagjaguwar records out of Charlottesville, Virginia run by Darius Van Arman. Jagjaguwar had a similar aesthetic and philosophy, and it seemed like a good match to pair up with. Jagjaguwar moved to Bloomington shortly thereafter. Secretly Canadian and Jagjaguwar are separate entities who share resources.
3AM: For certain, it's tough running any small enterprise-- what keeps you going? Challenges? How do you handle distribution?
JC: From the beginning I realized that distribution is perhaps the most important as well as the most difficult aspect of running a label. We all worked hard to secure distribution from the very beginning and were fortunate enough to secure solid distribution and thus build upon that. That has been and will continue to be a major challenge and that's a good example of the challenges that make it worth doing this. The other part that makes it all worthwhile are the relationships that are built, especially with the artists. It's great to forge relationships with such talented people especially when these people are genuinely nice and sincere.
3AM: Why Bloomington, Indiana?
JC: Secretly Canadian started here simply because this is where the idea was born. We stay here because Bloomington is incredibly supportive of it's arts community. Bloomington also has a long and deep history of a great music scene. From the early stages of Jazz until now, Bloomington and this area of Indiana has produced some great music. It's great to be a part of that heritage especially in a geographical area that most people don't associate with art.
3AM: What bands are on your labels?
JC: Secretly Canadian has released records by:
Early Day Miners
Intro to Airlift
the Japonize Elephants
Suzanne Langille and Loren MazzaCane Connors
the Panoply Academy
Nikki Sudden & The Jacobites
Swearing At Motorists
Jagjaguwar has released records by:
The Curious Digit
Jad Fair and Daniel Johnston
Nagisa Ni te
The Union of a Man and a Woman
3AM: Other labels you enjoy?
JC: Right now I'm really into the the Anticon collective and the various labels that release associated stuff...mostly the stuff on Mush Records.
3AM: What are you listening to?
JC: Again, a lot from the Anticon collective, specifically anything with doseone, and why?
JC: I'm currently reading two books; "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" by Michael Chabon. It's a great book and I expect it will be made into a movie before too long. I'm also reading "Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word" by Randall Kennedy. It's a fascinating book about the etomological and social history and significance of the word...a word I unfortunately heard way too much growing up in the South.
3AM: Who are some bands that impress you that may be under the radar?
JC: I believe cloudDEAD deserves to be heard more and it seems like that's starting to happen. And I need to plug one of my artists and that June Panic. He's pretty far under the radar, yet he has something like 16 albums. That feat alone deserves some kind of notice, but the music really is good.
3AM: What current projects are you working on? Future projects?
JC: Right now I'm trying to pull together something special for Secretly Canadian's hundredth release. It's not necessarily a novel idea, but one I will enjoy hearing and one I think others will enjoy.
Secretly Canadian's website
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER
Matthew Wascovich is an editor with 3AM.