In 2006, I was living in Kansas City and staying up late every night after work, making zines in the spare bedroom of a house that I shared with my girlfriend at the time. We had a dog named Ernie. I called him Lil' Ernie sometimes. One day, I made a zine with a mix CD stuck to the back cover and called it OK, FINE. I thought it would be fun to start a small, basically fake publishing/music imprint, so I misspelled our dog's nickname and called it Lillerne. It sounded vaguely European and happening. I had no real frame of reference for what I was doing.
Not long after, my girlfriend and I broke up and she got to keep the dog. I moved back to a town in Kansas where I had gone to college and started to live alone in a bleak one bedroom apartment. I made mixtapes and cataloged them under the Lillerne name. I would leave them around town in piles, though I knew of very few people who had actually ended up with one in their possession. Maybe nobody wanted an only slightly informed mixtape with a cardstock cover that said “NOISE POP CLASSICS”.
Around that time, I met my friends in a band called Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk. I decided that a more practical approach would be to release original music and create an actual music label. BBDDM would come to my apartment and we would dub tapes together. We'd make root beer floats and listen to music. It was a pleasant era. I realized that it was the most meaningful and productive way to spend my free time. I figured out how to buy bulk cassettes. I bought high speed duplicators on eBay. I broke those duplicators and went back to dual cassette decks. It was an extended learning process.
I put out two BBDDM tapes in early 2007, and from there I released a string of mostly Kansas-centric tapes by friends and acquaintances. In 2008, I moved to Chicago and was able to see how a larger DIY scene worked, and how the more established local cassette labels were operating. I met Kevin Greenspon of Bridgetown Records on the internet and we traded releases, back when he was still doing split 3″ CDs and crazy construction paper packaging. Now his label is thriving and he's done it all by himself. He helped to put out my own music and I bit a lot of his label's style and applied it to Lillerne. We went on tour together last year and continued to work together in various capacities. Bridgetown has always been the biggest influence. I also started to get in contact with bands and musicians outside of my friend circle, and with the recent boom in small labels, I was motivated to step up Lillerne's presence and up the productivity.
I'm starting to figure things out with Lillerne here in Chicago. I can operate on a small scale and live within a comfortable scene with my friends. My good friend Drew Gibson runs a label called Solid Melts, and he currently lives a few blocks away. Sometimes we help each other out. Sometimes we'll be completely unproductive. Sometimes we'll sit at Kinko's in the middle of the night and laugh about the absurdity of what we're doing. Stay up late and dub tapes and make music and plan tours and eat candy. More and more of my friends are participating. New labels, bands, side projects, collaborations, one off recordings. New things on the way from Sky Stadium, Potions, Vehicle Blues and Casino Gardens before the end of 2011. Shoutouts to Teen River and FREAK CITY. RIP Chomp Womp. Be sad forever! Here is a mix of some past and present Lillerne material in a somewhat chronological order from old to new.
Lillerne Tapes Sampler
1. Oregon As a Shape – “Pink Noise” (Lillerne Compilation, 2007)
2. Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk – “Helicopter Soup” (Good Times in the Trenches, 2007)
3. Burger Kingdom – “Danny” (Hand of Gold, 2008)
4. Boo and Boo Too – “Shimmering Glimmer” (CASTE PISS SET, 2008)
5. Jen Paul/No Lakes – “Christmas 82” (Jen Paul/Vehicle Blues Split, 2010)
6. The Armory – “White House” (Lillerne Compilation, 2008)
7. Vehicle Blues – “177” (Jen Paul/Vehicle Blues Split, 2010)
8. Wishgift – “Pretty Jenny” (Pretty Jenny/Cream Acres, 2010)
9. Squish – “Bad Head” (Squish, 2010)
10. Trudgers – “Sing When You Sleep” (Trudgers/Vehicle Blues Split, 2011)
11. Gelatin Kids – “#1 Downer Girl” (Gelatin Kids, 2011)
12. Grape Soda – “Not Mine” (Not Mine, 2011)
13. Katrina Stonehart – “zBabe” (Katrina Stonehart CSEP, 2011)
14. Sky Stadium – “Gatefold” (Sky Stadium/Potions Split, 2011)