Totally Gross National Product drops free sampler, preps for Sunday's Gayngsplosion at First Ave

Categories: Interview
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Though they have issued a steady stream of releases for a few years now, Minneapolis label Totally Gross National Product seems to be on an upswing lately, collaborating with a vast network of experimental artists that span and combine elements of electronic, rap, dance, and rock music.

Many of the TGNP artists will come together to perform at the Gayngs "Affiliyated" Showcase this Sunday at First Avenue, which was spearheaded by TGNP co-founders Ryan Olson and Drew Christopherson, and are featured on a new compilation offered up as a free download by the label this week.

Totally Gross National Product Sampler 2011 (opens in new window)

We caught up with Christopherson to find out more about what the label has been up to lately and what we can expect from them over the next few months.

Gimme Noise: I've heard you describe the artists on your label as being part of the TGNP family; you seem to support one another and share bills quite frequently, with band members overlapping and spilling into other projects. Do you feel like that spirit of collaboration is one of the defining features of the TGNP label?

Drew Christopherson: Yes, I think the desire to work with the individuals involved in the projects we release is a big motivation for us. Often times we won't even know what a particular record will sound like before we agree to release a record together, as is the case with Albert. We were big fans of his approach to music and his hilariously odd and creative personality, so we knew that working on a record with him would be fun and inspiring. We've always been about collaboration too. Especially Ryan, as illustrated by the immense amount of members in his two main projects Gayngs and Marijuana Deathsquads. He really likes to get his hands involved in any project he is a fan of, and many times this results in TGNP having something to do with getting product made. This willingness to collaborate and help promote each others endeavors is a wonderful trait of the Twin Cities music community. We feed off of it a lot, and hope to contribute to it as best we can.

What other characteristics do your artists have in common? Are there aesthetic qualities or other traits you look for when selecting new artists for the label?

There isn't any particular trait or characteristic that we look for in a band or artist other than originality, and some sort of spark, I suppose. Patience is a big plus. So is a good sense of humor. We've dabbled in various genres, and are open to doing that as long as we exist. I can see how it might be confusing to someone that we would put out a record by the psych-ish rock band Leisure Birds, and follow it up with a release by the party-rap duo Spyder Baybie Raw Dog & 2% Muck, but to us they fit nicely together as two projects that have unique musical visions and execute them swimmingly. The "marketability" of a record is usually the last thing we consider, although we are totally willing to exploit something if we see an opportunity. Did I mention Ryan founded Gayngs?

You have quite the crop of artists preparing TGNP debuts right now (Spyder Baybie, Slapping Purses, JM Airis). What can you tell me about these new guys?

JM Airis has been a total gem to work with so far. He's a Brooklyn-based artist whom we've know for many years now. His record Indian Summer has been one of my staples for late fall/winter listening because of the dissonant, eerie vibe he captured by recording in old warehouses and empty spaces around his Brooklyn studio.

Spyder Baybie Raw Dog & 2% Muck have been a riot to get to know. We first came in to contact with them when Jeremy (Spyder Baybie) gave Ryan a CD-R at some party house. Ryan didn't think anything of it until he later listened to it and found that about 12 out of 15 tracks were total bangers. By the next time he saw Jeremy, he already had another batch of songs that were even better. These guys can kick out solid jams in their studio like nothing. Between Spyder's wildly inventive rappping and singing, and Muck's devastating dub-steppy beats, these guys create music unlike anyone else as far as I can tell.

Same goes for Slapping Purses. Although he's working in a realm that's been active for a long time, his approach to music is raw and uncharted. I love the way he strips a genre of electronic music down to its bones, and then covers it in a noisy chaos that only he is capable of creating, due to him utilizing homemade instruments and one-of-a-kind manipulations of other pedals and gear. He's still working on his record but its getting close to being done. For now you'll have to just focus on getting one of the kickass six-color shirts we'll have available this Sunday.

Do you have a release schedule for the new records? What else is on the horizon for the label this spring and summer?

Release schedule is as follows:

JM Airis, Indian Summer: March 11
Albert, James St Murder Laden Mitten Wonder: March 15
Spyder Baybie Raw Dog & 2% Muck, Grimeworld: April 2

As of now, our next releases seem to be the Slapping Purses record, and a record from Marijuana Deathsquads. Both of them will most likely be ready for release by early Summer. Other than that we've been talking with Michael Gaughan about doing an illustrated book for Little Dog On Top Of A Big Dog, and Ryan has some upcoming projects he's working on wrapping up too. For now, though, we are taking it one month at a time, with our focus placed entirely on having an incredible time down in Austin, TX.

Many TGNP artists will perform at FIRST AVENUE this SUNDAY, MARCH 6, as part of the GAYNGS 'AFFILIYATED' SHOWCASE presented by GIMME NOISE. 18+. $20. 6:30 p.m.

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