May 202010

NoC interviews Ross Compton

By Nick Kidd

On Saturday, May 22 Matt Duncan’s new seven-song EP “Beacon” will be released on Hop Hop Records. An album release party at Cosmic Charlie’s will mark the occasion, featuring performances by Duncan along with the post-Doo Wop pop of Idiot Glee and a special late-night tag-team tribute to Daft Punk from Brocktologist and Louisville’s DJ Figure.

Dropping just 2 months after Idiot Glee’s 7” self-titled EP, “Beacon” marks Hop Hop Records’ second release to date. While it’s still early in their existence, the label has shown great promise, releasing EPs from two of Lexington’s finest local acts. I caught up with one half of Hop Hop records, Ross Compton, to get a better idea of what’s going on with the label.

NOC: Who’s idea was Hop Hop?

Ross Compton: I guess it was mine. I wasn’t looking to start a record label, but after hearing James Friley’s first Idiot Glee recordings and seeing his early IG live performances, I was awestruck and inspired—it just seemed like the right time and thing to do.

NOC: How big is your staff? (That’s not a penis joke unless you want it to be.)

RC: Ha. I guess, officially, two (James and I), though up to this point we’ve gotten a good bit of encouragement and physical support (constructive input and help putting together 7″s) from friends including Jamie Adkins, Jaime Lazich, Ashley Crawford, Robert Beatty, Kakie Urch, and James’ brother, Ian.

NOC: Do you have a central location or an office?

RC: Ha. Well, the address on the back of the 7″ is my upstairs apartment in the Candyland Dreamhouse on Loudon Ave (part of the Grifftown properties estate of our buddy Griffin VanMeter). That would make my living room the office. At least, that’s where we’ve done most of the 7″ packing and our occasional brainstorming.

NOC: Where does the name Hop Hop come from?

RC: It’s kind of a combination of things. I’ve always loved bunnies, mostly the cartoonish versions—silly drawings, stuffed animals, chocolate Easter candy representations of bunnies. Not sure why—I like cute things, I guess. And I always loved the Hair Police song, “Do You Love Hop Hop.” For some reason, Hop Hop always stuck in my head.

Then I had the idea that, if I ever got involved in running a venue that I’d suggest we call it Hop Hop. So, anyway, about this time last year, Ben Allen and I and a few others were looking to start a DIY music/arts/practice space on N. Limestone, in one of Griffin’s properties. We were close to birthing the baby, then we got word that the space wasn’t, in its current state, structurally sound for holding the number of people we wanted to have shows for.

By that time, the name Hop Hop had already been circulated enough that it stuck to that space. Although happy to see big letters reading “HOP HOP” on a building in my neighborhood, I was a bit bummed that the name that I’d held onto for so long was now attached to something out of my reach. So when James and I talked about naming the label, we decided to take it back.

Other than that, I guess, I’ve always been into the repetition of short simple words. I can’t really explain that either.

NOC: Do you have a label logo yet? If so, does it involve a bunny?

RC: Yup! Two bunnies, in fact.

NOC: You have Idiot Glee and now Matt Duncan on the label; anyone else?

RC: The plan is that our next release will be a 7″ split between The Butchers and The Gudwalls. Our buddy Paul Eldred plays in both bands, so we’re tentatively calling it “The Paul Eldred EP.” We’ll see if that sticks. Other than that, we’ve talked about working with a bunch of our other favorite Lexington bands—Tiny Fights, Bigger Boys, Attempt, and others—but haven’t really committed to anything.

NOC: Where do your artists record?

RC: For these first two releases, James and Matt recorded everything at home or other folks’ homes, which, to me—considering the richness of the sound—is amazing. We haven’t discussed things in any substantial way, but we’d love to work with our friend Paul Puckett, who’s in the process of building a full studio in the basement of his house, on some of our future releases.

NOC: Are you pressing vinyl or sticking with CDs and cassettes? And why?

RC: Well, James and I both love the idea of vinyl, as an interactive listening activity and for its tangible aesthetic quality. So, we did the Idiot Glee EP that way (of course, it’s accompanied with free digital downloads, and we set it up so you could buy the digital files of the EP separately).

When we pitched the idea to Matt of releasing his EP on Hop Hop, he had already been slaving away and obsessing about it for nearly two years. In that time, he’d done the homework and laid the groundwork to release it as a CD. He wanted to go that path, and we didn’t want to let personal dogmatic notions get in the way of being a part of releasing music we really care about. So, I think, most of our releases will have a vinyl component, but we’re not gonna be silly and stubborn about the format. We want to get music out and make folks (both artists and listeners) happy in the process.

NOC: Does anyone running Hop Hop have prior experience with running a record label? Or are you learning on the fly?

RC: Eh, James and I both have limited experience. In the early ’00s, Tony Manuel and I had a one-release label called Vulture Vinyl. We released The Elephants’ full length, “Carver/The Rose Attic.” And James has a cassette label called Itslips with great releases by Trailblazer, The Butchers, and Idiot Glee.

But I think that, mostly, we’re just learning on the fly. With that said, I think we’ve learned a lot about labels, releasing records, and promoting releases through our time DJ’ing and working at WRFL.

NOC: Where do you see the label in 2 years?

RC: On top of the mountain…or of the (trash) heap. We’re just gonna try to have fun and spread around music we like…and bunny-shaped baked goods.

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