My wife, Alicia and I started Cooper Cult slowly, almost imperceptibly… but I guess it was late 2011 – in Hamilton, New Zealand, We started it for a lot of reasons, but most importantly we started it for people like us; who are mad about Twin Peaks, and psyched on underground / outsider art and culture.
I watched Twin Peaks as a kid, when it first aired, rediscovered it in my early twenties, then a few years ago started watching it at least once a year. There's nothing I could say that hasn't been said before, but I just really love how Twin Peaks is all about the seedy underbelly of the American dream. I relate this theme to the music industry; it's mostly full of shit, with the interesting stuff lurking beneath it. In some ways, Cooper Cult is all about exploring this gulf.
We run Cooper Cult from home, where I dub all the tapes, make J-cards and sleeves, and pack orders. There are others involved; my wife is basically the high priestess of Cooper Cult. Jeff Stonehouse is a boss! He does everything, from recording some of the BEST drone out there, as jffstnhs, to mastering … He is also a constant source of inspiration and motivation.
Most of the artists we work with are our friends, and almost all of them have some sort of affinity with Twin Peaks. We also release our own art and music. The first outside artist we worked with was Jeff, who at the time made Lynchian drone as Listening Mirror. He's also a massive fan of Twin Peaks, with encyclopedic knowledge of the show. We've also had a lot of artists reach out purely based on the Twin Peaks appreciation.
We dig vinyl (who doesn't?), but we love tapes and lathe cut records because a lot of the music we love is aesthetically grainy, almost degraded, or lo-fi for lack of a better term. In my opinion, this sort of music sounds best on home dubbed tapes and hand cut lathe records. Also, juxtaposed with the over-saturated, disposable digital sphere, these formats are unique, and each cassette or 7″ can be appreciated as a piece of art.
I'm hesitant about dishing out advice on how to run a label in this day and age, but I will say it takes being willing to do everything yourself. We're passionate about music and art, and that means not being in it for the money. We get high off of collaborating with artists and bringing together a piece of art that might not have existed if it weren't for us.
Cooper Cult grows stronger with every release. We've got a hell of a lot of stuff we're working on. Next up is the debut tape by Sleeper and a follow up 7″. Then we have a few batches of 7″s with art direction by Anya Kuts, Grant Evans and Lee Noble. Some of the artists included in these batches are Love Cult, Crippling, Wolf Maps, Komodo Haunts, VVV, Lee Noble, and Pierrot Luniare. We also have plans to start publishing books, prints and zines.
Furthermore – and it's probably too early to say too much – but we're curating a compilation tape of music inspired by Twin Peaks. It's something I've had in mind since we started Cooper Cult, and it's finally coming together. We've got exclusive jams from a bunch of underground rulers, including Felicia Atkinson, Motion Sickness of Time Travel, Pillowdiver, and Lawrence English – to name a few… The tracks can be divided in to “White Lodge” and “Black Lodge”, in terms of vibe. Some of the artists wrote tracks directly inspired by the music of Julee Cruise and the arrangements of Badalamenti, while others chose to (re)watch Twin Peaks and record material directly inspired by their viewing experience. Anyway, Twin Peaks fandom aside, we've got a killer line-up with a lot of rad jams for connoisseurs of underground music; electronic, drone, noise, and outsider pop.
I'm sure a lot of people see the Twin Peaks thing as “camp” or whatever, but truthfully it's a hook… we use Twin Peaks coz we love it, and a lot of other people love it too; the characters, the story, the entire mythology… but we're using it as a tool to get the music and art we love in to your eyes, ears and hands.