Thursday, 01 October 2015 14:38

Dizzybird Records celebrates Anniversary

Written by  Nolan Krebs
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Cool Ghouls Cool Ghouls COURTESY PHOTO

Dizzybird Records One-Year Anniversary Party
8 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 17
The Pyramid Scheme, 68 Commerce Ave. in Grand Rapids
$10 for tickets after Oct. 1
Lineup: Cool Ghouls, The Harlequins, Las Rosas, Heaven’s Gateway Drugs.

Just over a year ago, Nicole LaRae and Brian Hoekstra were gearing up for the launch of their new record label, dizzybird records. The vinyl pressings were in, sponsors were lined up for the release party and people were stoked. The future was looking bright.

Twelve months later, LaRae and Hoekstra are finding themselves in a similar situation. The vinyl for their next release, “Creature That I Am” b/w “See You Around” from San Francisco garage-rock outfit Cool Ghouls, is waiting neatly in the warehouse (otherwise known as Hoekstra’s basement). Local businesses, and new partners from afar, have rallied to lend support–and once again, people will fill the Pyramid Scheme on Oct. 17 to celebrate dizzybird’s birthday.

The past year has been a ride for the duo, who have crisscrossed the country to both support their artists and search for new ones. Through projects like the Michigan House at SXSW,dizzybird has swiftly built a name for itself.

And the hard work is paying off. The label’s roster has jumped from two artists to seven – in addition to Heaters (Grand Rapids) and Gringo Starr (Atlanta), dizzybird has signed Las Rosas (Brooklyn), The Harlequins (Cincinnati), Heaven’s Gateway Drugs (Ft. Wayne) and Cool Ghouls.

“If the music takes the air out of our lungs, we want to work with you,” said LaRae, who has cut her teeth in the music business as the venue manager at the Pyramid Scheme and as a longtime staff member at WYCE. “Also, it helps if you are good humans. I’m also pushing for future releases to include more women.”

Hoekstra and LaRae first discovered new signees The Harlequins, who will release a full-length record via dizzybird in the spring, at SXSW in 2013.

“They were playing as the backing band for Gringo Star and they invited us to this small pub show they were doing later that same day,” Hoekstra said. “They blew the doors off the place.”

Indiana natives Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, who are no strangers to playing in Grand Rapids, also will be releasing a full-length with dizzybird in the spring. The group recently dropped its first single, “Copper Hill,” from the upcoming record - a jangly, Barrett-esque jam that fits in nicely with dizzybird’s proclivity for fuzzy, dreamy psych rock.

There’s a lot of work that goes into getting new records together, and LaRae and Hoekstra have tailored their roles within the label to match their strong suits. LaRae handles the marketing, branding and social aspects of the label, with Hoekstra taking up most of the logisticalduties.

But it ain’t all dull work.

“We are always looking and listening for bands, which is really helpful in aiding in our resolution to go to more shows and drink more beer,” LaRae said.“So far, every connection has been really organic and we are privileged to be working with such great people.”

So in one sense, not much has changed, Hoekstra said.

“Before we had a label, we shared bands with each other, and always shouted about bands to our friends,” Hoekstra said.“It really works the same now; we just have to throw down some loot and work hard to get the word out about these really deserving bands.”

Others have been throwing down loot in support of the label, too. Some of the sponsors for this year’s anniversary/release show include Landyachtz, ArtPrize, Vandermill Cider, as well as new sponsors Party On Printing, The Pyramid Scheme, Katy Batdorff Photography, The Lafayette House and Middle West. Returning for a second year in a row is Mr. Burger, Corner Record Shop and Mitten Brewing Company.

“It certainly feels like a family event,” Hoekstra said. And creating a unified force, a family, to support local artists is what it’s always been about.

“We wanted to be really proud about being from Grand Rapids - that is always there. I think we are making some of the right steps, to be seen in a really positive light culturally,” he said.“There are a lot of really creative people and bands here, and I think we try our best to channel that into dizzybird.”

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