steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

20 questions
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
with stumparumper records' patrick kelley

Patrick Kelley's Stumparumper Records epitomizes the joy of the DIY label. Culling major inspiration from the scene's now-legendary People in a Position to Know imprint, Stumparumper has taken baby steps into the arena of the lo-fi microlabel, inching forth with a couple of limited edition releases. Where many such imprints stick to the indie pop or experimental canons, Kelley has made it his mission to extend Stumparumper's exploits into other genres, including jazz and classical music. A noble feat for the aspiring label head, no doubt. Kelley answered our twenty questions about his sterling new label in early March, two releases into Stumparumper's run.


1. What triggered you to start up Stumparumper?

Last fall I had this urge to put a few songs that I recorded in high school with a friend (the H.A.N.S.) on vinyl. After thinking about it for a while, I thought it would be an even better idea to set up a label that would release music by myself and my friends. But since no one knew about us, it was originally going to be a lathe cut-only label where nothing would be pressed in an edition over 50 copies. After I got into contact with Scribbler, that changed, and now it's probably evenly balanced between lathe-cut releases and full-run pressed vinyl releases.

2. Where did the name Stumparumper come from?

It's a passing reference that Charles Kinbote makes in a commentary on John Shade's poem in Vladimir Nabokov's novel Pale Fire. I was struggling to find a name, and as soon as I read it, I knew that Stumparumper was right.

3. What is your connection with the bands you release? I know you're part of H.A.N.S., but how about Scribbler, Banned Books, Fuck Montreal, etc.?

Banned Books is from the Philly/southern New Jersey area, and I met them through friends, and also they played at my girlfriend's college. Scribbler and Fuck Montreal are both from Canada (actually they're brothers), and they found me (somehow) through myspace. MC Nugget, Ojespa Jazz Project, and Greenlight Motionless are my long-time personal friends, but everyone else I found (or they found me) on the internet. It's pretty exciting, especially since they're all really nice people who are very supportive of the Stumparumper project.

4. Who is your favourite philosopher and why?

Kanye West, and that's a blatant lie.

5. What has your experience been like with Peter King? How did you get in touch with him?

Peter King is a very nice guy, easy to talk to and happy to work on whatever project you throw at him. The only way to get in touch with him is by phone since he doesn't use email. This is his website (actually run by a fan -Ed).

6. Why did you decide to go the "professional" pressing route with the Scribbler 7"?

Scribbler contacted me about working with them on a tour 7", and they wanted 150 to take with them on tour. 150 is a lot of lathe cuts, and it's not really a cost effective way to go. So I was going to get 200 pressed records, until I found out that 300 records cost about $30 more than 200. (This is because the set up fees are big: mastering and plating cost almost as much as the records.) Also, it allows me to sell the records for less, and more people can have a chance to hear it.

7. How important is the physical product in terms of a musical release? Does an obsession with packaging risk objectifying the music?

Yeah. I worry about that a lot. So we only did 20 H.A.N.S. records, but it wasn't to piss people off with the low number - I just really had no idea what kind of audience there was for this kind of stuff. Probably should have done 50, but then I would have went insane gluing so many pieces of math homework together. We might re-press sometime (with different covers, most likely) if people show a strong interest. They sold out in about a week and a half and there were at least two stores asking to carrying them but I didn't have any copies left. But I had no way of knowing.

On the other hand, packaging is so important to a record, in my opinion. Some records have crappy artwork, some are made with cheap materials, and all of those things detract from the package or overall experience. The physical product should never need to be more important than the music, but new and creative ways of coming at the concept of "7 inch record" can be really refreshing.

8. What is your day job? Tell us one interesting thing about it.

I'm just about to graduate from Lafayette College in Easton, PA. It's really not that interesting, but I did play with the Kronos string quartet once.

9. What makes a good record?

Music has to be good, packaging should be good (cool art, novel ideas, screen-printing, colored vinyl, etc.). I really like records that use the space they are given. For example, a single (like the new Jay Reatard ones) can have about 4 minutes of music and still be a good record. But I prefer when the records are full of music (9-14 minutes). That way you get a better idea of what the artist is like and it's more like a mini-album than a single.

10. What fellow labels do you particularly admire, and why?

Well I have to say that People In A Position To Know really gave me the idea of doing lathe cuts, and I actually found out about Peter King through them. The music they release is not usually my thing, and their prices on lathe cuts are high, but they're pretty inventive and eclectic, and I like that. Also, I really admire Not Not Fun - they're quite prolific. Again, not exactly the kind of thing I'd always go for musically, but they've really got their act together and they do cool stuff with their packaging. I like lots of labels; these are just some I thought of.

11. Your intend to release records spanning quite a variety of genres, including jazz and classical music. What is your musical background?

I started playing piano when I was in third grade; I started electric bass when I was 13, guitar when I was 14, and I really started playing upright bass when I got to college. I guess jazz is my main thing now, and I play bass in a jazz piano trio called Ojespa Jazz Project. I've also been interested in classical composition in the past few years - I've written a piece for two pianos and bass called the "Robot Sonata" which is about the robots' take-over of the human race. I've also written a song cycle on 4 poems of e.e. cummings and I'm currently working on a string quartet. I was planning on releasing the Robot Sonata on lathe-cut 10", but I need to get a better recording first.

12. What does your record collection look like? (Any photos?) What is your most cherished possession?

It's not terribly impressive. But it's been growing exponentially lately - I'm cutting back on purchases for Lent. Most cherished….I have no idea. It used to be the Unicorns 2014 7" on Suicide Squeeze - such a great single. Maybe it still is.

13. What is your policy on demos?

Please send me stuff!!!! I'd love to hear new music, although I don't have a lot of money, so any new project would probably be a lathe cut. But not necessarily.

14. Describe your favourite on-the-cheap meal?

I love Chinese take-out or delivery. Also I went to a place called the Chicken Cottage in London once and got a chicken dinner for 3 pounds. Bagels are good too.

15. Stumparumper sounds uncannily similar to "Chumabwamba." How does that make you feel?

Nostalgic. I bought that CD when I was like 12 for $0.49 at FYE. And that's about all there is to say about that.

16. When you put out a record, what is the deal you have with the bands? Do they receive a set quantity of records?

I don't have a set deal, yet. I'm still trying to test what works well for all parties involved. It depends on how many are pressed and what we do for the covers.

17. How long do you see Stumparumper going?

As long as I have money to do stuff, I want to keep pressing music. That's probably the hardest part.

18. What is your favourite colour? Justify your selection.

I don't think I have one. It depends what it is you're coloring, I guess. I was told when I was little that white and black aren't colors - they're space fillers. That's a pretty powerful statement, I think.

19. What would be your dream release for Stumparumper?

I always thought about having something by the Wrens or the Fiery Furnaces or whatever. But now I like releasing things nobody's ever heard of. Stumparumper is not so much of a hit factory.

20. Any advice to aspiring microlabels?

Try it! Press a record and see how it goes. I'm glad I did. If you have some financial backing, you're set. Good music to release would help, too. Also, have patience. I need to tell myself that all the time. People will catch on.

interview conducted by Michael Tau
March 2009



all content copyright 2009