Hi, Five! Five years with eardrumspop

From Eardrums to EardrumsPop - the beginning

Artworks for some of the pre-EardrumsPop compilations, made by illustrators Souther Salazar, Alex Ostrowski, Julia Guther and Scott van Pelt.

EardrumsPop officially started 5 years ago, on the 19th of April 2010, when we released the first Between Two Waves compilation, where every song was made as a collaboration between two bands under a new project name. Two years before, Knut's blog Eardrums had released seasonal compilations, "Summer's Here!" (Summer, 2008), "A Good Crop" (Autumn, 2008) and "Birdsongs, Beesongs" (Spring, 2009). The focus on illustration and music started already here, and he worked with several great illustrators for the cover art.

Bands on these first compilations included new and at the time of release, exclusive songs from The Zebras, The Charade, Princeton, Hello Saferide, Northern Portrait, The School, Still Corners, Clay Hips, Pelle Carlberg, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Fanfarlo, The Lodger, Je Suis Animal, The Guild League, Rökkurró, Darren Hanlon, Butcher the Bar, Guther, Dark Captain Light Captain, Sambassadeur, Choir of Young Believers, Hari & Aino, BMX Bandits, When I Was 12, Saturday Looks Good To Me - and many, many, many (,many) more.

Between Two Waves - a one time project, we thought...

Artworks for the first series of Between Two Waves compilations, with illustrations by Seniorita Polyester/Roller Monkey, Julia Pax/Ronald Scharf and Daniel Novakovic.

When Knut started planning his next compilation, - a collaboration compilation -, he realized that he needed some collaborators himself. His twitter friends Stefan, Tim and Leena joined him, and the first EardrumsPop-team was ready. We didn't plan to make a label, just this one project, but the fun of it all and the friendship made us want to do more. Our musical taste were similar, but also slightly different, and together, we broadened each others musical horizon. We started making lists of our favourite bands, dreaming of how they would sound together, and we were all pretty excited. A lot of emails were sent to new musical dream teams. Sometimes, we had to be musical match makers and introduce two bands to each other, other times, the bands found their collaboration partners themselves. Often, the collabs were done across oceans and across borders, and one Japanese project had 5 members from 5 different cities, who never met in person during the making of the song. Some collaborations have continued as real bands since then. The name "between two waves" was inspired by a song by Shelleyan Orphan, and we felt the title (not the song) said a lot about the process of collaborating.

In addition to making one of the artworks, illustrator and Graphic designer Julia Pax also designed a beautiful booklet for the project. She became our booklet designer for several releases after this.

Bands participating were, amongst a lot of others, Sharon van Etten, The Bilinda Butchers, Tiny Ruins, Casa Murilo, Farao, The Very Most, Fireflies, The Honeydrips, Boa Constrictor, Dylan Mondegreen, Solander, Bubblegum Lemonade, Butcher the Bar, Julia Guther, Making Marks and many, many more.

Artwork for tiny fireflies, by Minkee.

The First EP: tiny Fireflies, and the real start of it all.

After the huge success of Between Two Waves, we wanted to do more. Exhausted (and excited) after the work with B.T.W., we needed a smaller project, and decided to start with a series of EPs. One of the most loved projects from Between Two Waves were Tiny Fireflies, a collaboration between Kristine from Tiny Microphone and Lisle from Fireflies. We asked them if they wanted to do an EP on EardrumsPop, and they did. The result was 3 beautiful, dreamy songs, including their version of Skeeter Davis' "End of the world".

Two of Tiny Fireflies' answers for the photo interview.

For the booklet, we started a collaboration with the photo interview website A Negative Narrative, where the bands answer questions by taking a photo instead of answering with words. The results were often surprising, funny, creative and beautiful. The photo-interviews were featured both in the booklet and on A Negative Narrative's website. This collaboration continued until A.N.N. decided to take a blog-break last year.

Pure pop and the quest for the perfect melody! The very most, lost tapes, dutch barn, skelocrats, eva on the western castle island, sleeping Policemen, cape canaveral, sun sister, Karibean and the candy strypers

EardrumsPop has always had a huge love for good melodies, pop harmonies and those jangly guitars. These releases have all of that, and I think a lot of our followers define us by this sound. We're, as you can see later in this text, much more than that, but they're also quite right, - that sound is a big part of EardrumsPop, and these catchy, sunshine-filled melodies will always be close to our hearts. When I listen to some of these, I realize how much The Beach Boys have influenced modern indiepop. For some strange reason, I've got an instant craving for ice cream, sun and a surf board right now...

The Electronics and the experimentals: Paperfangs, Far Concern, Featherfin, and our Label's mantra

All these artworks were made by the artists themselves.

Our mantra inside the team has always been that we can do anything we want, whenever we want, we have no boundaries. We never wanted to be a genre focussed label, but to keep some kind of continuity in style, we found that we all had in common that we loved warm and melodic music in many different genres. So, our style became "warm and melodic". Within that style are a lot of genres, and it has been liberating to see that even if we sometimes release jangly indiepop, other times folky EPs and more electronic music, we still keep "the EardrumsPop sound". It is not easy to describe it, but when we in the team hear new music, we always know if it has that warm and melodic ePop sound.

These three EPs have a more electronic, arty or experimenting sound than most of the other EPs we have released, but they are all still very POP in their sound, and definitely warm and melodic. The first came from a band with a cool, arty attitude and a very secret background, and members who never showed their faces on pictures. Paperfangs from Finland made a lovely EP, with dreamy electronics, hazy vocals, an occasional jangly guitar and lots of reverb.

The second of these came from Far Concern, Jared Davis, who produces collagic pop music from a bedroom in Melbourne, singing short simple melodies with lyrics about fantasy and nonsense. His playful, "whimsical" and fun style of music making is probably more popular in 2015 than it was at the time we released this, and you can hear similar sounds from new artists like Sweet Baboo and others.

In 2015, Featherfin released his debut EP on EardrumsPop, and he has also been with us since the start... Featherfin is EardrumsPop's Knut's musical alias, and his music is described by other team members as "Beautifully orchestrated electropop with captivating hooks and refrains that will sooth the ears".

Insect Guide - the exception from the rule, and The story about the hidden tuba

Insect Guide's two EPs on EardrumsPop. Can you see the tuba?

Insect Guide are one of the few bands we have had the pleasure of releasing twice. We rarely release an EP by the same band more than once, mostly because our goal from the start has been to be a place of discovery, and to present you bands we think more people should listen to. Insect Guide was an exception, mostly because we really needed more... Their darkish guitar pop with deep roots in both the 60s and the 80s - and maybe a bit 70s as well, struck us with its beauty. We couldn't resist when they asked if we were interested in another EP from them as a special Christmas release.

The beautiful artwork of Daniela Hasse matched the music well. In many of the early ePop releases, we tried to hide our "trademark" back then, a tuba, somewhere in the artworks. We thought of it kind of like a "Where's Waldo/Wally/Willy"-thing. One of the artists who we think really did this well, was Daniela Hasse, with her lovely Tuba-roses.

The two EPs are quite different from each other, where one has full rock instrumentation, the other is stripped down and has a nightly mood. Both are beautiful. The first of the two introduced some of us to the lovely music of Big Star, with their gorgeous cover of "nightime".

An Insect Guide fun-fact for you: their drummer once played in one of our favourite bands ever, Pale Saints.

Sometimes Always, Laura K and young romance; cover controversy

Laura K artwork by Sarah Lippett, Sometimes Always by Andy Harr, and Young Romance by Duncan Barrett.

"Controversy" is a word that rarely can be used to describe EardrumsPop. We're nice and friendly, and don't like to make people angry. Three times we've received angry letters from people who are annoyed because of something we have done. The artworks of Sometimes Always and Young Romance made some people react, and they were disappointed that we used sex to "sell". To be honest, the word "sex" never appeared in our minds when we saw these covers for the first time. "Love" and maybe "nudity", yes, but not "sex". We love these artworks, the colours and the rough, raw visual style that in many ways matches the music. Both EPs are real gems!

Laura K's EP originally had 3 tracks on it, - two originals and a cover of Real Estate's "Beach Comber". We asked the band directly for permission to use it, and they were both friendly and very positive. "Of course, go ahead", they said. In our naivity, we thought that was all the OK's we needed. Then a letter came. A lawyer-letter... We were in strict lawyerish told to either remove the song immediately or buy a license to use it, or face the consequences. They didn't say "face the consequences", but they said something similar in lawyerish, and in a way it sounded much worse. As a non-income label, we really had only one choice: the 3 track EP became a 2 track EP. So, those of you who have the wonderful "Beach Comber" by Laura K are proud owners of something so rare as a rare mp3. It was removed shortly after the release, so very few had downloaded it. Take good care of it, keep it in your safe with your other rare mp3s, brush the dust off it regularly and keep it in mint condition. Or sell it on eBay for a million. (And of course, give some of the money to Laura K.. And Real Estate...)

The Quiet Ones: Alison Eales, Lowpines, Kids On Bikes, Northern Spies And Boca Chica.

Artworks by Sean Mahan, Helena Garcia, David Zacharis, Anne Roecklein and... Sean Mahan.

A lot of people connect our label to indiepop, but although we love the genre, we really don't see ourselves as an indiepop label. Here's our mantra again, - we can do anything we want. And we have. Sometimes we're loud and noisy, sometimes happy and jangly, sometimes folky and other times we turn down the volume a bit and just sit down and listen. These five EPs are all among our personal favourites, - none of them shout loudly "HEY! LISTEN TO ME!" and they all contain so much emotion, beauty and feelings in their quiet and reflective sound. All of these sound best in the late evenings, after dark, maybe accompanied with a glass of wine, a book and the moon outside.

The Norwegians niko! Niko! and kookooo Kitchen

Niko! Niko! Artwork by Nicola Colton, and Kookooo Kitchen by Anastasia.

EardrumsPop has its outspring in Norway, where both Silja and Knut lives, and in many blogs, we're mentioned as "the Norwegian label EardrumsPop". As an internet label with an international team, we like to see ourselves as an international label. Tim comes from the USA, but lives in Ireland. Stefan is from Germany, and lives there now, but when we started, he lived in Sweden. Leena, who were a part of the team in the early days, is from Finland, but is living in Norway. And when Silja joined the team, she lived in England. Few of the artists on our label are from Norway, but we have two very good ones, Niko! Niko! and Kookooo Kitchen. Niko has in fact been with us since the pre-EardrumsPop days, when he participated on our first compilation as Princess Niko.

Collaborations! Baffin Island, Tiny Fireflies, Early To Bed, jacob Borshard with Laura K, oláfachada, Across Oceans and "Between Two Waves - the second wave"

We've already mentioned the first Between Two Waves compilation that started our little label, and the first EP by the collaboration project Tiny Fireflies. Several other projects continued working together, and some of them released their first EPs on EardrumsPop.

Baffin Island artwork by Sathya Ranjana.

Baffin Island, named after the exact midpoint between The Very Most's city of origin, Boise, Idaho, and The Hermit Crabs' hometown Glasgow, Scotland. The two bands combined the densely-layered indie pop of The Very Most with the more stripped down, thoughtful folky indie pop of The Hermit Crabs, and as Baffin Island they contributed with one track on Between Two Waves and an EP on EardrumsPop. In 2013, they also made an EP for WeePop! Records.

Early To Bed artwork by Emma Virke

Henry from Denmark and Meagan from the US found each other through Between Two Waves, and made some lovely songs without ever meeting in person. They called themselves Early To Bed, and swapped musical ideas and files over the internet. In Megan’s words: “I know how to write songs but I can’t lay down a solid instrumental track for the life of me, which is where Henry comes in. He listens to the songs I send him, feels them out, and then translates them into something more polished and eloquent; something that articulates better what the original versions are clumsily trying to communicate.”

Olàfachada's artwork by EardrumsPop's Knut

The fourth collaboration from Between Two Waves that made an EP for us, was Oláfachada, a collaboration between Norway's Ola Innset from MyLittlePony/Making Marks and Bernardo Fachada from Portugal. Their music is a poetic mix of folk and indiepop, with both of them doing the vocals on the songs. They are one of the long-distance collaborations who actually met in person to record the songs.

Artwork for Jacob Borshard w/ Laura K, by Jacob Borshard himself.

One of the most popular tracks on Between Two Waves, was "Summer will have its way" by Jacob Borshard from USA and Helena Sundin from Sweden. They planned to do an EP together, but Helena's motherhood took too much of her time, and Jacob had to find someone else to work with. We introduced him to Laura K, and it was a great match! Jacob is also an artist who have followed us since the first pre-EardrumsPop compilations, and we are big fans of both his music, lyrics and art.

Across Oceans artwork by EardrumsPop's Knut and Silja.

We planned to do more of these, and maybe we will some day. Across Oceans is planned as a series of singles where two of our artists remix or remake each others songs. The first - and so far only - single in the series comes from Baffin Island and Tiny Fireflies, and the result are two dreamy, lovely POPsongs.

Between Two Waves - the second wave artworks by Gemma Cotterell, Sean Mahan and EardrumsPop's Knut

In 2014, we released the second wave of Between Two Waves collaborations. It was as fun and exhausting as the first one, and lots of fine bands participated. Like the first time, several of the projects that were created for this album has continued working together afterwards. Nothing makes us happier than that!

One of the answers from Dutch Barn's photo interview. The question? "Take a photo of an ear, but make it real strange, artistic or unrecognizable".

By this time, after so many releases, we discovered another "funny" little thing we had in common in the EardrumsPop team. While working on getting the sound right, Knut's slightly reduced hearing on one ear made him ask for advice from the others. "Does this version sound better than this? Do you hear any clicks or weird distorted noises?", he asked. The first response was "sorry, I have reduced hearing, so I am not the perfect guy to ask", then the second one "sorry, my tinnitus is bad today, so I am not the right one for this task" and the third one "sorry, I can only hear on one ear, so you have to ask one of the others"...

With tongue in cheek, we found some new slogans for our label: "EardrumsPop - The label that can't hear" and "If you don't like our music, don't blame us, we can't hear!"

And the future of EardrumsPop? Who knows. We can do what we want, whenever we want, you know...

Thanks to everyone who has helped us in any way during these years, and thanks to you, for listening!

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