"We make records because death is coming." It's a bold, dramatic statement, and one that Holiday Breath Records doesn't make lightly. Founder Ezekiel Rudick (also of Young Elk) is adamant in his convictions.
When he established the vinyl and cassette label four years ago, it was in deference to music not just as an audible good, but a physical, tangible one as well: "There are opinions and arguments circling about whether vinyl truly sounds 'better' or 'warmer,' but for me it's about the artifact. I wanted to put out 'artifacts' that would stick around forever. Even if it meant that I would see one of our records in the used bin at a local record store—which I already have. True story," he says.
Clearly, making money is not high on the list of priorities for Holiday Breath. Their latest project, a compilation called Bummer Pop: Volume 1, functions equally as an artistic venture and a community-building exercise. Featuring songs by bands including The Hague, Starover Blue and Bombay Beach, Rudick sees "this compilation as a community of like-minded songwriters and music creators investing in each other—elevating the art of making beautiful, sad sack rock and roll." In the true spirit of collaboration, the bands on the album pooled resources to create the record. And in the true spirit of "bummer pop," the tunes are gloomy yet infectious, a combination that has become all but synonymous with Portland itself.
Though this year's album has been a test run for the label, Rudick notes that putting everything together was "pretty seamless." He goes on, "I've learned a ton about what not to do for next year, but the idea is that this is something we'd replicate every year, and eventually branch out to Seattle."
Even now, this year's release hasn't been limited by the constraints a guinea pig project might. In addition to the album, on Saturday, April 20, 10 bands, including several on the compilation along with MAITA, will perform at Bummer Pop Fest at Kelly's Olympian.