A chat with Dead Family Pets
Dead Family Pets Records was founded in 2019 by Jarrah Saunders, Chris Rugge and Nick Rushbrook for the purpose of establishing a community where small, promising, artists can pool resources, skills and ideas to develop their projects.
Tell us a bit about Dead Family Pets Records, when did it form, and what prompted its creation?
The label began in 2019 when Chris and I were living together in Seddon and playing in a couple of bands with Nick. We wanted to bring together all of the talented friends we had playing in small bands so we could pool resources and play shows together and hopefully grow as a collective.
What kinds of artists do you have on your roster?
Most of the bands we sign are just starting out, doing their first couple of releases. Currently, we have mostly psych-rock and post-punk bands, which is pretty much a reflection of the music our friends are making. We also do plenty of stuff in other genres though – we’ve got a project called The Community Mixtape, the first volume of which was a musical collage of jazz, funk, psych and ambient music.
Dead Family Pets Records is a DIY record label, what does that mean in 2020?
I guess the function of a DIY label has changed a fair bit in recent years - we’re not duplicating our own cassettes and screenprinting merch like the DIY labels of old, we’re just sticking tracks on Bandcamp and promoting them via social media. But I still think that being a DIY label in 2020 is, in spirit, much the same as it would’ve been 1980 – it’s about carving out a niche for the music we believe in and trying to get as many people to hear it as we can on a shoestring budget.
What’s it like operating in the west of Melbourne? What makes it different?
It can often feel a bit insular, making music out here – there aren’t really any live music hubs on this side of town so compared with the Inner North the community isn’t as big or easy to find. I think that makes it more special when you do meet other Westside artists - for example, when Chris and I met the Magic Ian boys playing a gig together in Brunswick and realised we were all from Footscray there was an instant feeling of camaraderie, and their EP ended up coming out on the label soon after.
Who are some of your favourite local artists or collectives at the moment?
Vintage Crop are the best, as is Jack Cherry’s label Weathervane Records. We've been listening to Gordon Koang's recent record 'Unity' a whole lot. I’m a long-time Antifade Records fan, and I also love all the stuff coming out on Bonsai Records. Ebony and the Dilemmas are an awesome act who we're looking forward to hearing some records from.
What’s next for Dead Family Pets Records?
In the absence of live music and practical recording scenarios, we're turning our attention to print media, helping Faxman release the first issue of his new zine Faxmag. When life goes back to normal, you can absolutely expect new music - we're planning a second volume of The Community Mixtape which will be a bit more punk-themed. We’re also planning on expanding our roster – it’d be cool to sign some new bands that aren’t just our mates. We’re always keen to bring in fresh faces and perspectives and would love to include some more culturally diverse artists.