Record Label Spotlight: Polyvinyl Record Co.

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Over the last 20 years, HIP Video Promo has enjoyed working with some of the most outstanding and iconic record companies in the music industry. Every Tuesday, we’ll go down memory lane and talk about some of our favorite record labels we’ve worked with in the past. On this Record Label Tuesday, we’re continuing with the fantastic Polyvinyl Record Co.

“Good music for all you good people.” What more could you want? That’s what Polyvinyl Record Co. declares themselves as in their social media bio – and we’d have to agree. Matt Lunsford and Darcie Knight were teenagers when they started Polyvinyl Press, covering their beloved music scene in Champaign-Urbana, IL, and around the Midwest. Spreading the word about the bands they loved turned into issuing Braid’s first 7″ Rainsnowmatch, a split 7″, and eventually a 20-band compilation – leading to Polyvinyl Records’ creation in 1996.

Now, more than two decades later, Polyvinyl has kept its DIY mentality. Their mission? “To support passionate, independently minded artists in creating timeless work, growing their careers and reaching their highest potential.” The label works on a 50/50 profit-sharing model with their artists, and they remain a 100% independently owned and operated label, with over 400 releases from more than 100 artists. Though they have staff in multiple cities across the country – such as indie music hotspots San Francisco, New York, and Austin – the label remains headquartered in Champaign.

Our relationship with Polyvinyl goes all the way back to 2005. We’ve worked with several of their artists over the past 16 years, and we think you’ll enjoy reading about all of these wonderful artists and the videos we promoted.

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Polyvinyl has a long history of representing some of the best, most creative, and most exciting artists out there. We worked with the label for the first time in August 2005 when we promoted the “Goods (All In Your Head)” video by indie-pop band Mates of State. Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel have delightful chemistry (it’s no surprise that they’re also married!) and create a unique, unusual sound with an organ prominently featured. Praised by The New York Times, Spin, Pitchfork, and Rolling Stone, the buzz leading up was high. Neither Gardner nor Hammel appears in the video; this clip is actually the winner of a “Make a Mates of State Video” contest.

When a client comes back time after time, you know they’ve got something special. Since first working with them in 2005, we’ve promoted more than a dozen videos by of Montreal. While many psychedelic pop acts from the late ’90s dissipated, Kevin Barnes and of Montreal have continued to get better and better. They released their seventh album, The Sunlandic Twins, in April 2005, and we promoted two videos: “Wraith Pinned To The Mist And Other Games” in August 2005 and “Requiem for O.M.M.2” in February 2006. Up next from Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, released in January 2007, were three more videos: “Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse” in January 2007, “Suffer For Fashion” in July 2007, and “Gronlandic Edit” in October 2007. Never ones to slow down, of Montreal released their ninth album Skeletal Lamping in October 2008, and we promoted videos for two of its tracks: “Id Engager” in November 2008 and “An Eluardian Instance” in January 2009.

of Montreal’s tenth album False Priest came in September 2010, and we promoted two music videos: “Coquet Coquette” in September 2010 and “Famine Affair” in February 2011. They followed the album with an EP, thecontrollersphere, in March 2011, and from that release, we promoted the video for “L’age D’or” in October 2011. The band released their next (and eleventh overall!) LP Paralytic Stalks in February 2012, and that May, we promoted the “Spiteful Intervention” music video. of Montreal hit a dozen albums with Lousy with Sylvianbriar in October 2013, and that same month, we promoted the “Fugitive Air” video.

Their thirteenth album Aureate Gloom came in March 2015; we promoted the video for “Bassem Sabry” in April and “Last Rites at the Jane Hotel” in September. Up next was Innocence Reaches in August 2016; in July, just before the album’s release, we promoted the video for “It’s Different For Girls”. Most recently, of Montreal released UR FUN in 2020, and in February, we promoted two videos: “Get God’s Attention By Being An Atheist” & “Polyaneurism”.
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Another Polyvinyl artist we had the pleasure of promoting several videos for is Deerhoof. By the time we first worked with them in 2005 (before their signing to Polyvinyl), this experimental San Francisco four-piece had been praised by Pitchfork, The New York Times, and more. Their seventh album, The Runners Four (October 2005, Kill Rock Stars), helped make a “far out” sound seem close by, and we promoted the “Wrong Time Capsule” video in November. A few years later, now signed to Polyvinyl, Deerhoof released Deerhoof vs. Evil in January 2011, and we promoted two videos: “Super Duper Rescue Heads!” in February, and “The Merry Barracks” in October. Up next was their album Breakup Song in 2012, from which we promoted the “Fete d’Adieu” video. We worked with Deerhoof one more time to promote the video for “Exit Only” from La Isla Bonita in March 2015.

Whimsical yet cerebral experimental pop act Xiu Xiu is another one that we first worked with prior to their signing to Polyvinyl, with the “Boy Soprano” video in September 2006, from their album The Air Force on Kill Rock Stars / 5RC. Six years and several releases later, they’d released Always, and in October 2012, we promoted the“Honeysuckle” video.

Portland trio 31Knots began blazing their own trail for more than a decade, creating a totally unique blend of oddball new wave, math-rock, avant-garde music, DC hardcore, Tom Waits-style instrumental arrangements, and folk-orchestral prog that the world couldn’t help but take notice of. In May 2007, we worked with the group to promote the video for "Beauty", the lead track from The Days And Nights Of Everything Anywhere.

Headlights are a group that sounds like they could be straight out of the UK, but they hail from Champaign, Illinois – the same town where Polyvinyl has its roots. Headlights released Kill Them With Kindness in 2006, and the following year, in May 2007, we promoted their video for “TV”. Their next album, Some Racing, Some Stopping, came in 2008, and we promoted the “Cherry Tulips” video that March.

The name “Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin” might be a mouthful, but this group makes insistently catchy guitar-pop that’s succinct and sweet. Their debut album Broom came in 2006, and we promoted the “Pangea” video in May 2007. SSLYBY’s sophomore album Pershing was released in 2008; we promoted the videos for “Think I Wanna Die” in April and “Modern Mystery” in August. The group released their next album, Let It Sway, in 2010; we promoted the video for “Sink/Let It Sway” in February 2011 and the video for “Critical Drain” that October. After 2011’s Tape Club, SSLYBY released Fly By Wire in 2013. From that album, we promoted the videos for “Nightwater Girlfriend” in October 2013 and “Young Presidents” the following July.

Coming from Melbourne, Aus. is the incomparable indie-pop combo Architecture in Helsinki. From acclaimed albums to worldwide tours with the likes of Death Cab For Cutie and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, they were prepped to release the Places Like This LP in August 2007. We promoted the video for “Heart It Races” in June 2007, the video for “Debbie” in October 2007, and the video for “Like It Or Not” in June 2008. We later promoted their “That Beep” video in February 2009, a song that would eventually be included on 2011’s Moment Bends.

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Hailing from the university town of Jönköping, Sweden is Loney Dear, a group quickly beloved in Scandinavia and stateside, too, with praise from Paste Magazine, All-Music Guide, and more. From the 2009 album, Dear John, came “Airport Surroundings”, a video we promoted that February.

Beginning with the release of the acclaimed Citrus in 2005, international pop darlings Asobi Seksu were in perpetual motion, getting love from NME and mtvU and touring four continents. “Me & Mary” was the first single from their album Hush, and we promoted its clever, hand-drawn video in February 2009; that November, we promoted the video for “Transparence”, another stand-out cut from the album.

James Husband (Huggins) had been a linchpin of the Athens, GA indie-pop scene for more than a decade by the time we worked with him in 2009. He co-founded Great Lakes, played with the Ladybug Transistor and the Essex Green, collaborated with nearly everyone from the Elephant 6 collective, and since the ’90s, had been Kevin Barnes’ right-hand man in of Montreal. James Husband released his debut solo album A Parallax I in October 2009 and the next month, we promoted the video for “Window”.

Mike Kinsella – known to rock fans as Owen – began making music in the ’90s, a founding member of Joan of Arc, Cap’n Jazz, and American Football. We were delighted to promote his “Good Friends, Bad Habits” video in November 2009, from the New Leaves set. Several years later, in January 2017, we promoted his “Settled Down” video from The King Of Whys.

Straight from Sweden came Love Is All, a stand-out quintet named Band of the Week by Paste Magazine back in 2007. Their third album, Two Thousand And Ten Injuries, was praised by the likes of SPIN, and in September 2010, we promoted the “Kungen” video

From the creative haven of Brooklyn, NY comes all-girl trio Vivian Girls, who derived their name from the works of reclusive American writer Henry Dodger. They released the album Share The Joy in April 2011; we promoted the video for “I Heard You Say” in February and the video for “Take It As It Comes” in October.

The Portland quartet known as STRFKR is an alt-indie-synth-pop jab-to-your-jaw sure to grab your attention. Their 2011 third album Reptilians was praised and featured by Pitchfork, Spin, and NME; we were delighted to promote the “Bury Us Alive” video that October. The 2013 album Miracle Mile provided us with the “Atlantis” video in May and “While I’m Alive” in October. A few years later, STRFKR released Being No One, Going Nowhere in 2016, and we promoted “Open Your Eyes” that October.

The Kinsella family are one of the names you need to know in indie and emo music; Mike and Tim’s cousin Nate brought us an offering of his own under the name Birthmark. From the 2012 album Antibodies came “Big Man”, a music video we promoted in October 2012.

Dusted frontman Brian Borcherdt knows how to get attention; emerging from his other band Holy Fuck, came Dusted’s Into The Dust album in 2012. In October, we promoted the “(Into The) Atmosphere” music video.

Sonny and The Sunsets know both true love and heartache, and a real-life broken heart influenced their Longtime Companion album, which Pitchfork praised. We were delighted to promote the “Pretend You Love Me” video in October 2012. After 2013’s Antenna To The Afterworld, they kicked off 2015 with Talent Night At The Ashram; we promoted the music video for “Happy Carrot Health Food Store” in April.

New Orleans-based band Generationals began making a name for themselves way back in 2008, and we began working with them a few years later in 2013. They released their Polyvinyl debut Heza that year; we promoted the video for “Put A Light On” in May. Never ones to slow down, Alix came in 2014, and we promoted “Gold Silver Diamond” that November, and “Reviver” the following March. “Catahoula Man” was released as one of several singles in 2017, before Reader as Detective in 2019, which gave us “Breaking Your Silence” that July.

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Shugo Tokumaru’s vocals are sung in Japanese, but this Tokyo native’s music is universal to audiences anywhere on the globe. The album In Focus? was released in 2013, and we had the honor of promoting the music video for “Katachi” in May.

Portland, Oregon is known for many exciting musicians, one group being Wampire. We promoted their “Orchards” video from the innovative Curiosity in May 2013, followed by “Wizard Staff” from Bazaar in November 2014.

Carrier in 2013, and we promoted the “Confidence” video that October. Following Carrier was Individ in 2015; we promoted the “Competition” video that March.>

The first act of American Football’s career – one 3-song EP, one LP, a few shows in the Midwest – was only the beginning of what would come later. After calling it quits, it became clear that American Football had a major influence on many acts to follow. It’s no surprise, then, that their return was met with much excitement. In 2014, they released a deluxe edition of their self-titled debut LP; that July, we were delighted to promote the “Never Meant” music video.

Much like American Football, another Mike Kinsella project, Owls’ influence went far beyond their original short time together (2001-2002). When Owls reunited with their original lineup, they shared Two in 2014; in July, we promoted the “I’m Surprised…” music video.

Painted Pals is a fanciful indie duo from San Francisco that speaks volumes for the current generation. We promoted the video for “Forever” in July 2014; it paid homage to those of us stuck and unaware/undecided of what we want to be. The following fall, November 2015, they were back with “Refractor”.

Coming from Seattle is Scott Reitherman wrapped in vintage synths and analog fabric, Pillar Point. We promoted two Pillar Point videos: “Dreamin'” in July 2014 and “Dove” in March 2016.

Taking cues from The Stooges, MC5, The White Stripes, and the like comes to us Louisville, KY’s White Reaper. We first worked with them in July 2014 to promote the video for “Cool” from their self-titled EP; later, we promoted the video for “Pills” from White Reaper Does It Again, in September 2015. In July 2017, we promoted their “Judy French” video as the lead single from The World’s Best American Band.

From Toronto to a worldwide stage comes Alvvays with their soothing blend of ’60s-inspired indie-pop and heart-wrenching alternative rock. Praised by the likes of Nylon Magazine, we were delighted to promote their “Archie, Marry Me” video in November 2014 and their “Dreams Tonite” video in October 2017.

New Zealand native Ladyhawke, aka Pip Brown, makes retro-tinged, classic synth-pop that’s also ridiculously fun and adventurous. From the album Wild Things comes her song and video “A Love Song”, which we promoted in May 2016.

Tancred’s Jess Abbott already had a wealth of inspiration and experience before even beginning to write Out of the Garden, an album praised by the likes of NPR and The Fader. We promoted the “Bed Case” video in June 2016. The follow-up Nighstand was released in 2018, and we promoted the video for “Something Else”, a gay twist on Riverdale.

Julia Jacklin comes from Australia, but she does folk Americana as well as any US-born-and-raised artist. Her 2016 album Don’t Let The Kids Win was recorded at New Zealand’s Sitting Room studios with Ben Edwards (Marlon Williams, Aldous Harding, Nadia Reid). In September 2016, we promoted her music video for “Leadlight”.

Since she was a child, Ellen Kempner – aka Palehound – has been playing guitar and writing songs as a way to process her life and experiences. “If You Met Her,” from A Place I’ll Always Go, is a touching tribute to life after loss. The “If You Met Her” video, which we promoted in June 2017, was created entirely by high school students at the Real to Reel Filmschool at Raw Art Works in Lynn, Mass.

After a decade of cutting his teeth in Bomb the Music Industry!, Jeff Rosenstock switched gears to produce records for other bands before deciding to release records under his own name. POST-, in 2018, was his first for Polyvinyl; we promoted the video for “Melba” that March.

Keeping the late 90s and early 2000s culture alive, The Get Up Kids are the pinnacle of punk and emo music. “I’m Sorry” comes from their 2018 EP Kicker; we promoted its video in August 2018.

After more than a decade away, David Bazan brought Pedro The Lion back, ultimately releasing Phoenix (named after his hometown) in 2019. We promoted the “Quietest Friend” video in February 2019; shot by Jason Lester on 16mm film, it’s a natural extension of the “Yellow Bike” video.

Melina Duterte has recorded as Jay Som since 2015; she wrote most of her 2019 album Anak Ko during a self-imposed week-long solo retreat to Joshua Tree. “Tenderness”, which we promoted that July, was the first music video to be shared from the album.

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Recently, Melina Duterte (Jay Som) and Ellen Kempner (Palehound) joined musical forces to create Bachelor. In advance of their debut album Doomin’ Sun, we began promoting their “Stay In The Car” music video in April 2021.

Ella Williams, AKA Squirrel Flower, has known the freedom in expressing yourself authentically through music for a long time. In April 2021, we promoted the “Hurt A Fly” video from the forthcoming Planet (i) album.

In 2014, the journey of IAN SWEET really got started, when Jillian Medford graduated from Berklee College of Music and put together a band to help accompany her. Now she’s parted from the band and has recently released the dreamy yet edgy indie-pop masterpiece Show Me How You Disappear. We were honored to begin the campaign to promote “Sing Till I Cry” in April 2021.

Two gay lovers, Joey Holman (HOLMAN) and Roddy Bottum (Faith No More, Imperial Teen, CRICKETS, Nastie Band), unite to merge their affection, music abilities, and most importantly, their gay pop confidence in a new collaborative project, MAN ON MAN. With a timeless indie-rock style, “Stohner” (which we promoted in April 2021) is a perfect encapsulation of true love.

In a tumultuous time, New York native Oceanator (AKA Elise Okusami) is the beam of hope we’ve all been waiting for. Things I Never Said, the debut album from Oceanator, feels eerily consistent with the state of the world, and latest single and video “I Would Find You” – which we began promoting in April 2021 – is an upbeat single with just the right amount of synthesizers.

Polyvinyl continues to work with some of the most exciting names in the world of indie music. Some recent releases include STRFKR’s Ambient 1 and a 10-year anniversary edition of Reptilians, Laura Jane Grace (of Against Me!) ‘s Stay Alive, Xiu Xiu’s OH NO, and Doomin’ Sun by Bachelor (Ellen Kempner, Palehound and Melina Duterte, Jay Som). To see their latest releases, visit their website or follow them @Polyvinyl on Twitter or @PolyvinylRecords on Instagram.