Hobo Cult out of Montreal is just fucken KILLING it right now. Run by Frank Ouellette (who is also the brains behind the equally awesome Hobo Cubes project), not only is he putting out really great tapes and CDRs, the art and general aesthetic of the label is absolutely top shelf. My first Hobo discovery was the exquisite Bernardino Femminielli tape, La Montaña del Capricornio. Good as that tape is (and I hope Bernardino has more in the pipeline), later releases from the likes of Magic Beach, Panabrite and of course Hobo Cubes cemented Hobo Cult’s status as one of my absolute favorite labels of 2010. Another great bonus is that he includes downloads of all the tape releases. Frank knows what’s up. There’s a lot of exciting stuff in the works, too, so it’s worth keeping up with Ouellette’s blog and getting in on the action. It’s one well-oiled machine.
Who started the label and why?
I started the label in 2007 but it was just a blog with my albums for download. I could never decide on how to compose my debut album so I started making compilations of my different projects to give away for free. You can still find those albums on the blog… Anyway, after a while i decided to take 3 of the best projects (Pradada, Hobo Cubes & Drama Orchestra) and make some C-90 tapes to send out to bands I admired. I made some tapes which all had unique cover art (old magazine pictures) and sent them out. It took a while to get a response but I knew it worked when I got a package from Blues Control. I was stoked that people would start trading with me. So after that I started releasing my side projects and local bands and it just sort of grew on its own. Now I’m reaching out to artists I really respect and that inspire me to make music. I just love collaborating.
What’s the story behind the name?
Well, I’ve always been into Beat poetry and I just came up with Hobo Cubes as a name for the weirder stuff I was working on. It’s just free association… writing down words that work well together. So when I wanted to find a name for the label, I thought of Hobo Cult because it would be cool to have this big community of free thinking artists spread out around the world, working together as this fucked up family… just releasing tons of albums. So far, so good!
What keeps you inspired to continue doing the label?
There’s been so many unique sounding people popping up these past few years that I can’t stop listening and wanting to collaborate with them. That’s the main thing. Also, the tape labels look fucking amazing and the musicians are releasing great stuff. I studied in Graphic Design so I love working on the cover art & packaging. Eventually, I’d like to create more of an art object which contains music that just a regular tape or cd…
What’s the hardest thing about running an independant label these days?
Right now, I have a pretty long list of upcoming albums and I’m always tempted to ask more bands to send me their music for new tapes… It’s insane, I can’t even keep up the production rate. I’d like to have a faster & bigger output but right now it’s tough because I’m just releasing a tape or two per month. I’d prefer doing batches of 6 every month like Stunned, Rotifer & Digitalis… getting everything pro-dubbed. Hopefully things pick up more so I can quit my job and just do this!
If you could work with any one artist, who would it be and why?
Oh man, that’s a tough one… I’ve been really obsessed with Russian Tsarlag this year, trying to collect all his albums. I tried to contact him but haven’t gotten a response. So if someone knows Carlos, tell him to write me! Otherwise, I’m really into Sun Ra… Albums like Sub Underground, Atlantis, Space Probe, Disco 3000 & The Antique Blacks just work on a whole other level of consciousness.
What’s your demo policy?
I accept any format: mp3s, tapes, cds, vinyls… I’m always down to hear new stuff. Especially outsider rock / freaked out folk / psych drone / electronic explorations. I don’t have a problem with poppier stuff but I just prefer releasing more bizarre sounding music.
What do you have planned for the future?
The next albums are: Hype Williams C-55 / Alexein P. Oris & Hobo Cubes split C-44 / Mark Bradley cd / Duck Dive cassette / Misner Space & Sundrips split tape… You can check out the entire list on the Hobo Cult myspace. Besides that, I’m always recording for more Hobo Cubes albums and other various side projects. Keep an eye out for Velvet Chrome, Magic Beach, Quicksand Explorers, Video Diaries, White Wigs & Death Light. I’m always looking for people interested in trading albums and distros to hold some of the releases.
What’s the best record you’ve heard in the past year?
So far, my favorite drone album is the Scott Johnson & Sean Gadoury 2xCS “Smokestacks” which Scott released on his label Cloud Valley. It’s OOP now though… Besides that, I was really surprised & delighted when I heard the last song on Steve Kenney’s “Smoke Dogg” cd. Grab that before it’s gone! And check out these burners: J. Hanson (Blood Orange), Archers By The Sea (Sometimes We Should Dance), Lee Noble (Loaded Image), Stellar Om Source (Exises).
Any closing advice?
Stay dedicated to the craft.