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Having cut my teeth on a subscription to Sub Pop's singles club, fought a war of love-hate with Tree's Post-Marked Stamps series and even marveled at the idea of Shinkoyo's cassette singles boxed set, the idea of a subscription-based LP series loaded with extras was instantly appealing. Intrigued, I surfed over to the label's website and browsed around a bit, where vaguely ambiguous information and the dry delivery of it would, if not for a tiny address in Brooklyn at the bottom of one page, leave me believing that Melted Mailbox was some sort of hip UK endeavor. The idea was simple - collaborate with both music and visual artists to assemble a collection of LPs (loosely based around the ideas of psychadelia) and prints to be issued as a series of single-sided LPs in bi-monthly installments. The side of the LP opposite the music is etched and, according to the label, "each record will be bright & thick." Visions of sturdy 180-gram colored vinyl sheathed in vivid prints on high-grade paper stock flooded my mind, yet there were too many questions left unanswered; I contacted Kimmel via email and pressed him for more information, which he kindly provided.
LAS: So, you're coming up on the release date for the first mailing in the Melted Mailbox Series One, the Sunroof! and Dino Felipe joint. Are you ready to roll?
Matt Kimmel: Yahhh - mailing one is out! Sunroof! & Dino Felipe are the first two LPs!
What are the etchings on the blank side of the LPs? Are they hand-etched?
The etching for Series One was created by Katlyn Hershman. The etching will carry through on all of the Series One releases. The look of the series is uniform - all of the releases are different in their approach but linked through their overall aesthetic.
Where did the whole Melted Mailbox idea emanate from?
Well I always wanted to put out records. Over the years I stopped buying CD releases and have focused my attention on vinyl & MP3s. I wanted to do a label that forced people to embrace the music that I love. A record club seemed perfect! It forces the listener to consider artists that they typically would not have exposure to - artists that, according to me, are the best out there.
How did you get involved with psychedelia? What is it that pricks your pin cushion about the genre of music? The sounds, the images, what?
Early on I realized that psychedelic art is typically more enjoyable. I blame my "involvement' in psyche primarily on weed. My warped-definition of psychedelia has me grouping things together that typically would not be linked. Drugged-out sonic & visual art is just more interesting. They challenge the landscape - experimental anything challenge monotony and boredom & are therefore inherently more interesting. I like interesting things & weed.
How did you hook up with everyone involved in the Melted Mailbox project?
I started correspondence with the artists I wanted to be involved that I did not already correspond with.
Was the initial idea to just do music, to just do the printed art, or to do both at the same time?
The music is the centerpiece of the series, but we felt we should take the opportunity to spread visual art as well. All of the art contributed is meant to do what the records do - force people to consider art from artists they typically would have no exposure to. We have an open art policy, where anyone that makes anything that they consider to be art can send it to us in any quantity and we will throw their art into random mailings, forcing some subscriber to consider their art. We keep getting amazing contributions & encourage anyone & everyone to send their scribbles, paintings, drawings, DVDs, et cetera our way.
Was there anyone specific that you had in mind when you came up with the project idea?
I had a very specific list for the first series - I was lucky that all of those artists were interested in the project's concept & willing to contribute unreleased music to the series. I decided a while back that I would not even do a label if Sunroof! (or one of Matthew Bower's other projects) wasn't involved. I was ecstatic when he told me he was interested in contributing. Dino Felipe & Arrington de Dionyso were definites (both amazing artists & totally different!). Ariel Pink & Keith Fullerton Whitman have always been dream releases for me. Carlos offered up a surprisingly lush & psychedelic release that only a fool would pass up on. OOO was initially going to be the unannounced bonus LP in the series - but I figured his fans should have the pleasure of knowing about his Melted release. The Series One line-up is perfect; I would not change a thing!
A subscription to Series One entails a lot of stuff - LPs, photos, postcards, paintings - do you already have all of that stuff together? Not to be too much of a pessimist, but I've seen these types of special art series start off with a bang in the past only to wind up having a lot of changes, cancellations and generally sub-par substitutions toward the end of the series. How are you handling the logistics of getting everyone on board and sticking to schedule?
We've been lucky - everything has been going perfectly on-schedule. The first mailing is out & the second mailing is being assembled now. All of the music is in. we get new art submitted everyday and we put together the orders as they come in. The lo-fi feel is apparent & the finished product looks amazing. I am really happy with how good things are working out with this first series.
Why put so much effort into something that is probably not going to make anyone any money? At $70 for a series, doing the LPs alone would probably not make much of a profit. when you include all of the printed work, it seems safe to say that this isn't for the love of money. Why, then?
Someone told me a long time ago that you don't put out records to make money - you put out records because you love putting out records. I have been wanting to put out records for as long as I can remember. I have fine-tuned my idea of a label/art project for too long. The idea for Melted has been growing for so long & I knew that if I did not go through with it I would regret it later on in life. I want this to be affordable to fans - and the current price is more than reasonable. This project will not see any real financial gain, but at least I can feel somewhat fulfilled that I contributed to the greater creative good. Honestly, who could possibly have regret putting out music that they love? As long as I can continue releasing music I will be more than happy.
You are kicking off Series One now - are there plans for additional series? How will those vary from or compare to the first?
I want to continue the series as long as I can. If Series One sells out then there will definitely be a Series Two. People that sign up after the first mailing, which has already happened, will still get ALL of the LPs - they will get everything from the first mailing with the second mailing. Ideally Melted will catch on and the series will be able to continue for a while. All of the series will attempt the same thing - to expose fans of psychedelic music to other brain-melting music they typically would not come across. The artists will be different but the basic aesthetic & idea will stay the same. There are so many artists that deserve to be heard - as long as there is great music there will always be a reason to release it. SEE ALSO: www.meltedmailbox.com
Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.
See other articles by Eric J Herboth.
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