Label Spotlight: IHEARTCOMIX

posted February 10, 2009

by Corinne


Please introduce yourself.

Hi. My name is FRANKI CHAN. I am a DJ, Producer and Illustrator. I also own IHEARTCOMIX RECORDS & EVENTS. :)

When and why was the label started?

IHEARTCOMIX came into existence in 2003, but the label didn't start until 2005/2006. IHEARTCOMIX originally began as name for myself to throw parties under when I moved to LA. I figured it would be helpful to have some sort of moniker so I didn't have to name them after myself. I chose IHEARTCOMIX, cuz, well, I really like comic books!

About 2 years later after our parties had become successful, a mutual friend of myself and my partner at the time, Travis Hayden, whose name is Jay Parkin was running a record label called Fiddler. He was getting bored of doing that and had an investor interested in starting a new record label under the name of HELP! Records. He asked us if we wanted to be the A&R and marketing for the label and that it would mean paychecks and all new computers and office equipment. We thought it sounded like a fun idea, so we said yes and began looking for acts. Fast forward about 6 months later and the investor decided to pull out. It was a real heartbreaker because we'd become really excited about the bands we had found.

After much internal discussion between Travis and I and a couple of the bands, we decided we would give it a go anyway. We had Protokoll and This Blush and found Matt & Kim shortly after. They were the ones that really convinced us to go for it.

It's kind of crazy to think about it, cuz at the time we had no money, no infrastructure, distro or anything else. we just did it! but we did get to keep all the computers and office stuff from HELP!, so that set us up on that end!

What kind(s) of music does the label put out?

We put out a mix of Dance and Pop Punk music and every shade in between. All of the artist are fun, upbeat, danceable, positive with distinct styles and brands. Each have good politics and are upstanding and extremely talented individuals.

What was the first release? How was it financed?

The first 2 releases were Matt & Kim's S/T debut full length and Protokoll's S/T EP. They came out a week apart from each other and were originally distributed through Southern Records and Ioda.

We had a P&D deal with Southern so that got the manufacturing out of the way. Everything else, PR, radio, promo items, remixes, etc was paid for from the money I was making DJing and booking shows. I literally put everything I had into those 2 records, so I was lucky at least one of them worked out, otherwise I'd prob be working at McDonalds right now.

What is the most recent release?

We digitally released an EP by FUTURECOP! at the end of January. It's entitled 'The Unicorn & The Lost City Of Alvograth.'

Coming up we have the vinyl release of Designer Drugs 'ZOMBIES!/Back Up In This' singles w[ith] remixes by Bird Peterson, Le Castle Vania, Don Rimini and Nadastrom.

Additionally on the horizon are new singles by Acid Girls, Juiceboxxx and The Toxic Avenger!

What has been your most successful release?

Matt & Kim by far. They've turned into a huge success for themselves. It was like a rocket ship and they still haven't stopped. They just recently released their second record via Fader.

The Toxic Avenger single we did has also done extremely well, esp[ecially] since it's just a single. That baby still sells as well as the 1st day it came out.

Tell me about the crossover from IHEARTCOMIX EVENTS, hosting parties and publishing comic books, to IHEARTCOMIX RECORDS. Were there lessons learned you were able to apply or was it a whole new ballgame?

To set the record straight, we do not publish comic books on any pro level, although would be cool someday...

As for the rest, all the different sides of our business are all sides of the same coin in my mind. It's one overall brand and lifestyle and we just have various means of expressing that. We've built up our own channels of marketing ourselves and I feel have built up a good rep while doing so that allows us the ability to work with others. It has been a challenge from time to time to express that on paper for business purposes, but I think that comes with anything that is new and not clearly pre-defined. We're still very much evolving as a company.

Your website says that the label is "pushing music forward and igniting change." In terms of music and artists, what do you think the changes have been recently? Do you feel there's a difference between what's trendy at the moment and what's "a change" in the industry?

Blogs and the internet in general has effected music incredibly. It's made it an even playing field and has taken a lot of power out of the hands of the majors. The rise of nightlife photography and the growing power of the party/show has changed things a lot as well. The reintroduction and embrace of dance music in the US has also been exciting and I feel has and will be reshaping the environment in North America.

Do I feel a difference between trendy and 'a change?' well, it a bit synonymous isn't it? If everything is now instant, what's a trend? I feel things are being exposed like never before. The scene that bands like No Age and Matt & Kim hail from would never have had the kind of exposure like it has without the internet, same w[ith] the latest generation dance music. I think the trends and fads come and go a lot faster now, but it's also easier to make lasting impact. You kind of have to look at it like a sitcom or comic book story arc. Each finale actually such leads to the new status quo of the next arc, although it doesn't limit anything that came before.

What do you see as the future of record labels?

Lifestyle brands and hobbies.

How has your label adapted to changes in society, business, etc?

We just have. It makes sense to constantly be looking for a more economical way of doing things that also catapult the quality and accessibility of your products. chase the technology.

Any words of wisdom for those brave souls interested in running their own label?

I wouldn't recommend it, it's a total headache :) but if you must, don't spend too much too fast, you don't need to. the world is full of free/cheap options now. just put in the time.

Anything you'd like to add?

Please keep reading!

Thanks so much! xo

Thanks for your time!