Boo! Local Label Turns Two
The voices lead the way
by Jeremy Ohmes
Chris Uehlein says he heard voices growing up. They spoke outside of his bedroom; they sang from the attic. “Oh, my house was definitely haunted,” asserts the 20-year-old music student. He doesn’t know exactly what the ghosts were saying, but they must have howled some encouragement his way. A musician since his salad days, Uehlein had always aspired to support himself with his art, but he didn’t know how to break into the music industry. “So I decided to make the industry myself,” says the enterprising UO sophomore. With his friend Bryan Oliver and the motto “Fuck man, we can do that,” he started Haunted House Records, a fiercely independent label that holds radical politics and social consciousness near and dear to its DIY heart.
Initially, Haunted House revolved around Check’d, a politically driven experimental hip-hop group, and Spring Project, a metal band, of both of which Uehlein is a member. But what began as little more than a vanity project has evolved into a legitimate, up-and-coming label. In the last two years, Uehlein has doubled the roster (from two to four bands) and expanded his vision of Haunted House’s business model. “It’s not just music we want to put out,” says Uehlein. “It’s more of an art collective … I want to put out the stuff from the people I believe in, from graphic novels to poetry books to paintings.” Recently, the label has promoted a status quo-skewering collage artist named Fritz as well as “signed” (more mutual agreement than a contract) Testament, an MC out of Brooklyn, and the Alder St. All Stars, a radical bluegrass/honky-tonk group based out of the student-run Campbell Club co-op.
At the core of Haunted House Records is a subversive, DIY spirit that not only unites the label’s artists but also just makes sense financially. Uehlein cuts down on costs by making and producing nearly everything in-house. He records, mixes and masters most of the bands at his home studio, and he hand-makes all the packaging and promotional materials (from 100 percent recycled material, of course). It’s this self-sustainability and business savvy that has Uehlein thinking he could do this full-time for a very long time. Maybe those voices from his childhood home keep giving him good ideas, but he’s already planning to buy property in Portland and transform the label into an autarkic artist’s co-op. Hopefully, that house will be
Haunted House Records Two-Year Anniversary with Check’d,the Alder St. All Stars and Testament. 9 pm Friday, June 6, Campbell Club, 1670 Alder $4 or whatever you can donate