After nearly two decades of running Carpark Records, the great indie label that has brought us records from the likes of Speedy Ortiz, Cloud Nothings, Toro Y Moi, TEEN, Greys, Palm, Dent May, Melkbelly, and many more, founder Todd Hyman has taken the time to revisit his own music. Recently, Hyman and Carpark re-released records from Hyman’s 90’s college rock bands Wendyfix and Remy, having all of the music digitally restored. While preparing Wendyfix’s full career-spanning retrospective treatment with We Have The Cracks, Hyman uncovered a previously unreleased music video for the former’s track “Swinging Softly.”
The video was written and directed Steve Pilgrim, and shows the band performing a solemn set at a high school prom, soundtracking the slow-dancing of seniors on the verge of graduation. The video’s gives an intimate glimpse into the college lives of the band members, Hyman in particular: “Beginning and end shot at my senior year apartment,” he explained via email. “The rest was shot at a university building all night. We had to shoot at night because the room had some huge windows. You can notice the sun starting to come up at the end of the video. Just finished in time. It was a long night…”
Check out the “Swinging Softly” video above, and a statement from Hyman about the formation and existence of Wendyfix, its role in his musical upbringing, and the formation of Carpark Records, below.
“In the early to mid 90s I was attending university in Chicago and consuming music voraciously. My friends and I all DJed at our college’s (Northwestern) radio station WNUR. My freshman year I was doing a jazz, rock and freeform show. I remember one day a week worked out where I was doing shows from 5am to 10am, and then again from 1-4pm and then 7-10pm! Not sure how I did it.
By sophomore year I wanted to contribute more. My two flatmates and I decided to form a band. It was named Wendyfix after a local high school tennis star. I played drums….with the children’s drum kit I got when I was around 10 years old. I had started taking drum lessons when I was 8 after banging on the couch one too many times listening to my brother’s LP copy of Rush Permanent Waves.
Wendyfix existed for about 3 years until graduation. My junior year I also started playing drums in a band called Remy with two other WNUR music obsessives. And by my senior year I was also drumming in a band with my girlfriend at the time called Not Without My Daughter. Busy times!
After graduation I wandered around trying to figure out what to do. I lived in New York and Chicago each for a year. I worked in record shops (Reckless in Chicago, Kim’s West in New York). I PA’ed on TV commercials. I obtained a post graduate degree studying popular music with Simon Frith in Glasgow in the late 90s.
The idea of starting a record label periodically would enter my mind. But I kept telling myself that my tastes were always changing too fast to do that. I thought record labels had to have a “sound”. And I didn’t want my brain to feel stuck in a certain genre. That changed when I moved back to New York from Glasgow in late 1998 though. I was working at the now defunct shop Etherea in the East Village. A bunch of us who worked there created an experimental electronic night at Brownies called Invisible Cities. We had Wednesday nights from 11-4am.
At first we thought we’d just be DJing, but there were so many folks looking to play that couldn’t find a spot, we eventually started having a “live” laptop set every week. This was at a time when performing with a laptop computer was becoming possible for the first time. I met so many interesting musicians through this experience that I decided that it was finally a good time to start a record label. And Carpark was born!
Experimental electronic music seems a far cry from the introspective indie rock of Wendyfix and Remy but it all made sense to me. Anyway one of the things I learned running Carpark was that I didn’t have to stick with a certain sound. So after doing the electronic thing with Carpark for a few years I started branching out and now just put out whatever I think sounds good/interesting etc.
A year or two ago I thought it would be a good idea to dust off the half inch tapes and make this music available again. Hope you enjoy!”
We Have The Cracks is out now. Pick it up here.