Imprinted: Teenage Teardrops

February 14, 2007

One of The FADER's driving principles is to expose emerging art and music to a curious and receptive audience. In the magazine, we're often caught wanting to give you more: more images, more answers, more actual music. We can do that here, so we are. The first of these new features is a label profile we're calling Imprinted, because the labels we'll be featuring are the ones who expend every energy and spare dollar to make their marks on the world. We chose Echo Park, California's Teenage Teardrops as the inaugural Imprint because we've loved everything they've done so far, from shredded noise-punk to weirdo soft jazz, and we look forward to seeing and hearing what they do next, even if it's a limited-edition food item. After the jump, read our interview with Teardrops founders Cali Dewitt and Bryan Ray– two of the most positive and inspiring dudes around– and listen to some Teardrops music from Issei Sagawa, The Sads, Soiled Mattress & The Springs (incredible name), and No Age. And if there's a label you'd like to see featured in the future, feel free to tell us.

Teenage Teardrops' Cali Dewitt and Bryan Ray

How did Teenage Teardrops come about? What made you want to start it?

Cali: I have wanted for some time to sell everything I own on Ebay in order to make beautiful and limited records and books and ephemera because it is my stab at putting something positive into the world. I had done and been a part of numerous other label projects and was always left cold by the business side of things and compromising my creative ideas.

Bryan: It was Cali’s idea, it had already been swirling around in his head for a while when we first talked about projects we could be doing together. The label seemed the perfect, long term, entirely creative type of thing we were looking to start together. I have always desired to do a label that pays no attention to the bottom line. The music is all that matters. Breaking even can be so satisfying.

What have you put out so far?

B: Issei Sagawa 7” (w/ Youth Attack label) was the first. Included a limited numbered run of 50 Test Pressings that the band embellished with pee. The rest were assorted white and yellow vinyl.
Number Two is Soiled Mattress + the Springs 12”. Half the run was white vinyl and included 4 color artwork on the inside of the glued jacket sleeve. Number Three is The Sads 12” due out any moment.

C: Sads 12” is now done. No Age 12” at the pressing plant. Mark McCoy, Patrick Dewitt and Jessica Hopper are all constructing their books, and No Age and Brother Reade just may be working on their collaborative record.

Issei Sagawa, from the self-titled split 7" with Youth Attack Records
(cover art by Joe Mendonca)

So you’re not just music?

C: I should make it clear that Teardrops is NOT a record label. It’s an anything goes label.

B: Other stuff is good. Having no limitations is essential for us right now. Anything goes, as long as we both like it. I want to release some sort of limited edition food product some day. Small books and zines are always on our minds.

How have you chosen the bands or songs that you've put out so far?

B: My recollection is that we seem to always decide together, usually over coffee or a tea, maybe with some sort bun or sweet treat. I usually want to do more than we can handle, and Cali has to talk me down and get me to focus on fewer things. I can get too anxious.

C: If it touches me, if it makes me feel something positive and inspiring, if it’s heart is in the right place. I will ask the person/people involved and see if they are interested. At this point, I am interested in things that convey some sincerity, some community and some friendship. I am so sick of negative and extreme culture, and I am not interested in adding to that.

LISTEN: Soiled Mattress & The Springs, from the Lite Jazz for Fans of Ralph Records 12" (cover art by Aviram Cohen, Alain Levitt & Matthew Thurber)

Is running Teardrops your full-time job? How much time do you spend
working on it every week?

C: Teardrops happens everyday and no, NO WAY is it a job. It’s actually one of the only things that makes the more tedious aspects of making a living rewarding!

B: For me it’s full-time mentally, but we do other things as well on the day-to-day. Every day we dedicate time to Teardrops, some more than others. Like with anything that you love we usually will find the time.

I check your blog pretty regularly for much needed doses of love and
optimism. Is this something you want to carry forward with the label?
Like, you seem to value family, and the extended family of friends, and I was wondering if you see yourself as a patriarch of these bands or just someone who knows how to release records for bands who
wouldn't otherwise.

C: If through something as simple as a blog and some positive action I can make someone else feel some optimism and positivity then I am totally, totally psyched.

B: I think you nailed it exactly. Family and Friends! There has to be True Love for us to dedicate ourselves to it. Feeling is everything.

LISTEN: Sads, from the Rough Stabs 12" (cover art by Matt Leines)

What do you personally get out of running Teardrops? How do you feel
when you see your records in a shop or being sold at a band's show?

B: For me, it’s a huge thrill. Lots of Love, Pride and Joy is involved. I guess you could say we get A LOT out of running Teardrops.

C: I am proud of Teardrops. That’s a big deal to me. I am proud enough of it, in fact, that it doesn’t bother me that it is where ALL my spare income goes. For the first time in my life I feel like I am doing a project that I can stand behind 100%, whether it’s a “success” or not. I am way, way pumped and honored to get a chance to work with the folks who we have worked with.

If someone asked you to run a big label, would you do it? If so, what
would you do? Or, if you won the lottery, what would you do with

C: Win the lottery? Put out more stuff in even more ornate and loving packaging. Run a major label? NO thanks. I have done time at so-called “real” labels, and those places are nightmares where dreams and hopes are stoned to death.

B: I thought we were a major label? It says so on our MySpace page right? If we won the lottery I think the only thing that would change about Teardrops is that we would probably give our bands more. We wouldn’t put out a bunch more records than we already do, we would just support the bands we have even more. Maybe we would buy a company restaurant to feed us all?

LISTEN: No Age, from the Dead Plane 12" (cover art by Amanda Vietta)

Do you have any advice for kids, or not kids, out there who want to
start something like Teardrops?

B: Start small and build it, but do it no matter what. As with anything creative, be it a book company, a record label, a band or whatever, it starts from an idea and can only grow as big as you can imagine. If it’s something you desire to do, then just do it, live it, be it. No one is going to do it for you.

C: Be more than a witness. Take what you do seriously AND have fun.

Do you have any advice for world leaders?

B: Sometimes just being an inspiration to others is enough. Be a good person yourself, before you force others to be as you think they should be.

Rainbow-puking dude by Cali Dewitt

Posted: February 14, 2007
Imprinted: Teenage Teardrops