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Hand Drawn Dracula grew out of the experience of Dependent Music. Dependent Music was an East Coast collective co-founded by Brian Borcherdt and was the starting point for bands like Wintersleep, Land of Talk, and Holy Fuck. It was a regional pioneer of DIY, ran by the artists with handshake deals. It ran for about 10 years and I was on board for about 5 years primarily as a graphic designer. It’s where my career as a graphic designer grew from.
A couple of years after Dependent Music shut down, several Dependent artists were looking for a label. I was already helping with the package designs and at some point I just offered to release the albums. Everyone really got behind the idea. Brian Borcherdt in particular was a real champion for HDD. I also enlisted the help of my friend Joe, who’s actually also a brilliant and successful pharmacologist. We’ve been friends since we were teens. He co-founded HDD with me and became in charge of the accounting.
Pourquoi ce nom? Why this name, Hand Drawn Dracula?
I was driving to Montreal about six years ago to see a band that was interested in joining Dependent Music, which had actually shut down by that point. I was with a friend at the time who owned his own record label and wanted my thoughts on that potential artist. On the drive over he complained about the trend of indie album artwork being all badly hand drawn. « hand drawn birds, hand drawn flowers, hand drawn Draculas, etc. » For some reason I stopped him mid tangent and said that when/if I ever started a label of my own I would call it « Hand Drawn Dracula ».
I liked how it sounded. The name seemed to pretty much encompass a lot of what I’m drawn to as an artist and as a fan. It also had the potential for a branding that I found interesting with the graphic novels and publishers I was reading at the time.
I listen to all kinds of music. I’ve never limited myself to one style. The indie music scene is pretty diverse and I think it’s more important to have an open mind and not only focus on what’s currently trending or charting. Some people are happy and successful in following the hype, but when I choose to work with an artist, I’m more interested in the work and the individual. It’s really important to me that I care about the projects and the people I’m working with before I devote all the time that it takes to work a release.
HDD’s label guidelines are open to any genre. I’ve always leaned more towards the darker sounds and subject matters in art and I think that’s somewhat evident in the direction of several HDD projects. But I’d say that aesthetic is balanced by a positive, pop and experimental side of the catalogue. Being a graphic designer, the package design of the projects is very important to me. It’s the small details that work together to make a difference in perception and quality. The overall look and branding of Hand Drawn Dracula is very thoughtfully crafted and I think that’s helped the label become a trusted place for artists and musicians.
Quelle relation entretiennent les groupes et le label ? What are the relations between the groups and the label?
HDD started as a bunch of friends. It originated from an East Coast music scene, specifically Halifax, and evolved within the local Toronto music scene. The artists have all locally been playing, recording, and touring together way before this label existed.
De quel album es-tu le plus fier ? What’s the release of which you are most proud?
I guess I’m most proud of the HDD collective as a whole, and everyone who’s been involved and supportive. We believe in the projects, we like to think they mean something, and it keeps us working.
Wintersleep, Contrived et Brian Borcherdt sont tes premiÃ¨res sorties. Quelle est leur histoire ? Wintersleep, Contrived and Brian Borcherdt are in your first release. What’s the story of this releases…?
Those are all the original Dependent bands, all best friends, all starting out careers together. Brian moved to Toronto looking to expand the Dependent Music scene and he started playing with local indie heroes By Divine Right (Feist and Brendan Canning are also alumni of BDR), who gave me my first professional gig as a graphic designer in the « established » industry. Brian and I met through a common friend whose younger brother was the singer of Wintersleep, which formed out of the band Contrived. I still have all these demos somewhere. I ended up doing a lot of the the album artwork and graphics for these bands. These guys are my extended family. There’s a lot of history there.
Holy Fuck was a solo project Brian Borcherdt started experimenting with when he borrowed a film sound synchronizer from work. He made live experimental beats with the actual film/tape reels. The first show was at SPIN, a local gallery that repped my work. Then Brian had the idea to put together a live band that made electronic music without using computers. He brought together an impressive collective of musicians. Holy Fuck really took shape when Graham Walsh and Brian started working together. The first release was on Dependent Music, followed by an EP and signing to Young Turks/XL Records. Graham later produced Julie Fader’s debut HDD album « Outside In », and now they have a very cute one year old daughter!
Holy Fuck is a really important project to me. I was on board for graphics, web development, and all sorts of help from day one. Seeing the progression of the band has been amazing. They’ve mixed, produced, remixed, played, toured, and supported various HDD projects over the years. In particular the split EP with Off the International Radar, and their Vicious Circles Vol.1 contributions.
Bishop Morroco and Josh McIntyre (Little Girls, Prince Innocence) semblent ultra-productifs. Tu peux nous en dire plus Ã leur sujet ? Bishop Morroco and Josh McIntyre (Little Girls, Prince Innocence) seems now very productive. Can you tell me more about them?
Bishop Morocco started as a project between James Sayce and Jake Fairley. They later brought Ian Worang (Uncut, The Two Koreas) and John McCan (Guided by Voices) on board. Ian and Jake released an amazing EP as The Uncut called ‘Understanding The New Violence’ via Berlin’s Dumb Unit Records back in 2000. Sayce had played early on in The Deadly Snakes and later with Tangiers, which also featured Josh Reichmann (Dopes, Bad Tits, Deserts) on vocals. Jake is one of the best electronic musicians out there. He moved to Berlin 10 or so years ago and started a successful career as Fairmont. Jake just did a remix of Little Girls’ ‘Daydream’ for HDD and the Bishop Morocco remix they did of Holy Fuck’s ‘Stay Lit’ is classic. Both Jake and James are hard-working, career-driven guys.
Little Girls was one of the first local bands I contacted when I started HDD. At that point, Josh McIntyre had released a single on Captured Tracks and a Mexican Summer EP was on the way. There were a lot of eager enthusiasts soon after that, and that trend continues with his new project Prince Innocence. Josh played me early bits of PI bedroom recordings while we DJ’d together at HDD Unlovable nights in Toronto. Those lo-fi recordings became their bandcamp EP.
Quel est le concept des compilations Vicious Circle ? Can you explain the concept of Vicious Circle compilations?
The Vicious Circles concept started early in the development of the label. When I was working Dependent Music, I started reaching out to unsigned bands to potentially work with at Dependent. I was contacting bands through MySpace – Remember MySpace? That’s how I first met Shugo Tokumaru, Black Moth Super Rainbow, A Place to Bury Strangers, and a bunch of other notable artists. A few years later, I asked Shugo, BMSR and Holy Fuck if they’d be interested in contributing music to an HDD compilation. They seemed like a perfect match sonically and the afterthought of having them rework each other’s music seemed like an interesting concept that would really set the album apart. They all did such a great job!
Quel est le futur proche de Hand Drawn Dracula ? What’s the near future of Hand Drawn Dracula?
Coming up soon is the HDD NXNE showcase w/ A Place to Bury Strangers, Dusted, Rituals, Army Girls, and Beliefs. I’ve scheduled new releases way into the new year. Dusted’s « Total Dust » debut album will be released July 10th in Canada through Hand Drawn Dracula and to the world via Polyvinyl. Dusted is a new project by Brian Borcherdt (Holy Fuck) with producer Leon Taheny (Final Fantasy, Rituals). Leon is also a member of Bruce Peninsula, whose ‘Open Flames’ album was released on HDD last October. Other upcoming HDD releases from Rituals, Deserts (Sebastien Grainger and Josh Reichmann), and more are in the works.
Et tes espoirs les plus fous ? And your craziest hopes?
Lately I’ve been listening to Here we Go Magic, Factory Floor, Total Control, Lower Dens, A Place to Bury Strangers, and Disappears. I’ve also dug up older Rick White, Space Needle, and Gang Gang Dance records. Locally, I’ve been listening to Odonis Odonis, Beliefs, Teenanger, Daniel Romano, Black Walls, Evening Hymns, Young Mother, Sexy Merlin, Actual Water, Tenderness. So many more great indie bands in Toronto… It’s pretty amazing.
Mixtape Who are you Hand Drawn Dracula
01. Dusted – (Into The) Atmosphere
02. Shugo Tokumaru performs Holy Fuck’s Lovely Allen
03. Rituals – Life Saver
04. A Place To Bury Strangers – You Are The One
05. Metz – Pigs (Sparklehorse cover)
06. Beliefs – Iron Streams
07. Army Girls – Cold & Alcohol
08. Bishop Morocco – Last Year’s Disco Guitars (A Place To Bury Strangers mix)
09. Little Girls – Nights Out
10. Dopes – All Day Wrong (Sebastien Grainger remix)
11. Wintersleep – Resuscitate
12. Bruce Peninsula – As Long As I Live
This is a new Brian Borcherdt (Holy Fuck) project with producer Leon Taheny (Rituals, Bruce Peninsula). Really excited about this record as well as Brian’s new project called LIDS with members of Metz and the Constantines.
Adam, Leon (Bruce Peninsula, Dusted), and Matt (Sailboats Are White) are also great musicians. Their last EP came out on my friends label, Unfamiliar Records. We’re working together towards the release of their new album which is sounding amazing. Get ready! The band tell me their working on a follow up to their HDD debut, Cults EP.
I met Oliver and the band in NYC at CMJ just before the release of their debut. A year later I joined Holy Fuck and APTBS on a fun tour of the southern states. APTBS are just about to release their new album Worship this summer and are headlining this years’ HDD NXNE showcase in Toronto.
They just finished what will be one of the best new albums of 2012. Metz are one of the heaviest, loudest, and best bands. I was lucky enough to get the band to headline last year’s HDD POP Montreal showcase. Also fun to drink with!
A great duo getting a lot of local buzz. Their debut EP was produced by Ben Cook (Fucked Up) and Carmen Elle did time collaborating in Austra. Army Girls are touring with PS I Love You and working on their debut full length.
08. Bishop Morocco – Last Year’s Disco Guitars (A Place To Bury Strangers remix)
Everyone should see Bruce Peninsula at some point. They are one of the best live bands out there. Their current and previous members include Weather Station, Snowblink, Timber Timbre, Austra, and Ohbijou. Founding member Neil Haverty and I go way back in the Toronto scene.