Label Dissection #1: Sister Polygon Records

sister polygon records

Who are they? – A band called Priests managing themselves and also other bands they like.

What acts have they got? – Well themselves (Priests), Neonates, Shady Hawkins, Young Trynas, Dudes, Cigarette, Carni Klirs, Flasher, and Hand Grenade Job, as well as having released work by artists including Sneaks and Downtown Boys.

What’s their deal? – They’re a band that needed a label, so they made a label, which is just about as DIY as it gets. They use their label to promote bands that otherwise wouldn’t have much of a voice.

Why do we love them? – In a climate totally fucking saturated with white dudebro bands with little more to say than “shalalala”, Sister Polygon are all about promoting artists who don’t sound like everyone else, often marginalised voices, voices with something different to say. They’re providing a platform to artists who’d otherwise have none, diversifying and revitalising the indie landscape. Absolutely everybody wins.

What have they got to say for themselves? “We never said “let’s set up a label for underrepresented artists”, but it just happens to be that a lot of what we put out isn’t necessarily popular in a mainstream sense. So we’re not drawn to someone’s marginalisation particularly, that’s kind of a flattening way to appreciate music. I’m aware of the invisible systems that make certain kinds of music more visible than others, so when you see those things you can look through them and see more stuff. Why do we see and hear so many more straight white people, often men, making rock n roll when it is a style of music essentially invented by a queer black woman (sister Rosetta Tharpe)? What systems are at play to muffle certain voices and certain stories?

Sometimes it ends up getting popular, that’s cool if it benefits the artist, but ultimately the label is about all of us working together and expanding our creative family. Most other artists we’ve released are friends of ours. We all go to each other’s shows and play in each other’s bands and design each other’s shirts, loan each other music gear, hype each other’s stuff. It is about creating a family of people who can enable each other to do more work as a team that we’d be able to do alone.

It is a lot of work. I am often glued to my phone these days trying to coordinate stuff for band business and label stuff, answering emails and writing people. It is a nice problem to have, but it takes up a lot of time. We do the best we can with the resources we have. I believe in striving to own the means of production in as much as we’re able, just because it allows for more agency in our output. Sister Polygon Records reflects the 4 of us because literally no one else has been involved in cranking out the releases. We have no bosses except our bond together. I think it’d be cool to eventually have more money to support more releases and artists on a larger scale. We’ve operated on a very small budget these past 4 years, it is a lot of unpaid labor that we invest in the project because we believe in it. It is a tricky thing because on one hand you want to eventually generate more revenue so that things will work better and you can compensate labor, but for me at least, you never want to change your mindset into being about “doing it for the money”.. like, in any creative endeavor, I think that’ll just dilute the original intent.

We started this label out of necessity. We try to figure out what we have to do and then ask ourselves “how can we make this happen?”. I recommend doing whatever you have to do in life, in your work, etc. Make work that feels as essential as breathing.” Katie Alice Greer, Priests/Sister Polygon Records.

What’s their next release? Priests – Nothing Feels Natural LP, out 27th January 2017

Find Sister Polygon Records on Facebook and Big Cartel.

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