We here at Mind Equals Blown are excited to introduce to you Sleepy Eyes Productions, a brand new label founded by one of our writers, Joshua Austin. To kick off the label’s launch, we sat down with Joshua to discuss his new venture.
We’re also proud to exclusively bring you the first single from the first band on Sleepy Eyes Productions’ roster, Contacts & Confidence. You can stream “Tragic Tendencies” below the interview.
Can you give us a little background on your career in the music industry up to this point?
I am a founding and current member of Ohio band Contacts & Confidence (once known as Little Wars). I have been playing music professionally for ten years. I now also own the indie record label and recording studio Sleepy Eyes Productions.
Was there any specific event or instance that kickstarted the road to this label?
It wasn’t a conscious decision at first. I was working out ways for my band to cut cost so we could still function at a professional level after my wife Stephanie (our vocalist) and I had a baby. We were paying so much money to graphic designers, studios, and other expenses. I felt like most the things we were paying for I could do myself if I committed to learning how. Once I took over our design, booking, management and PR and starting learning how to record, the idea sprouted in my head.
The last piece falling in to place was us getting offered a record deal. I saw what the label was offering and their terms and conditions and really wasn’t impressed. I have a couple industry friends I trust and when I talked to them they told me those terms are pretty standard. At the same time we were friends with a few bands going through label problems through similar labels. I honestly felt everything they were doing I could do and at a much better deal. It’s obviously a bit risky financially but if I’m not willing to bet on myself then I shouldn’t be doing this anyways.
What made you want to pivot more to the business side of music?
I’ve always had a business mind. I think I see things a bit differently than most people. So I was faced with a decision to tone myself down so that other people could do things for me or be fully expressive and be the captain of my own ship. It’s always an uphill battle because I’m doing 98% of the work, but it’s incredibly rewarding to see things come out the way they are in my head.
Is there a specific style of music or type of band that you want to target with the label?
Our roster will be composed primarily of pop-punk, screamo, post-hardcore, indie, and metalcore . However, we are not excluding any possibilities. I don’t want to create limits. The most important thing with music that when we hear it, it leaves an impact on our day. No matter the genre, if we hear an artist the represents our values of hard work and honest, passionate music, we would be open to working with them. I’m a fan of every major genre of music so there’s no limit with us, especially since the average fan listens to such a wide variety of music these days.
What advice can you give to these up-and-coming bands that you’ve experienced during your time in the music industry?
“Find what you love and let it kill you.”
It’s a very basic quote but it’s also perfect. I’m a very big believer in the Law of Attraction, which in simple terms is a philosophy that says your attitude and approach control the universe around you. Basically, approach things with an attitude of success, never let failure in your mind, visualize what your success will look and feel like, and then put in the work to achieve it. Don’t wait for your dreams to find you. Attack them and take them by the neck.
What kind of prep work has gone into getting this project to this point? What was your first step in making this a real thing?
The first step was having the courage to say out loud to those close to me, “I’m going to create a successful record label.” There was a lot of research into distribution, marketing, PR tactics, and such. I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know until I started learning about all of this. It was a big learning curve.
The next step was understanding that this was a declaration saying that our band was not signing to any label. That’s a scary prospect if you are not 1000% confident in your approach, your ability to adapt, and the results you will get.
We also had to fund the label and studio. We’re not well-off people by any means so that was probably the most worrisome task. But when you approach things in the right way the universe has a way of lending a helping hand. We were able to raise everything needed and are finally ready to launch after a very long planning period.
Are there any other indie labels around that you want to use as a role model, so to speak?
I’ve always been a fan of Nick Moore at InVogue Records. I’m also a big Pure Noise fan. But as far as a model, oddly enough, I studied a lot of how Funk Volume! became so successful. Rap is a very hard genre to be independent in and their success is something to marvel at. I was lucky enough to have a conversation with the co-owner Dame and I really think looking into how they’ve done things has had more impact on us than any other label.
What is the main goal that you want to achieve with this record label?
We will become one of the most successful indie labels in the scene with a reputation for great music and hardworking artist and management.
I don’t deal in “want”. If you want you will never have because you’re putting the wrong message into the universe. I already have this success, it just hasn’t materialized yet.