Polyvinyl Record Co.
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|Polyvinyl Record Co.|
Darcie Knight Lunsford
|Distributor(s)||Alternative Distribution Alliance|
|Genre||Indie rock, indie pop, alternative rock, new wave|
|Country of origin||U.S.|
Polyvinyl Record Co. is an American independent record label based in Champaign, Illinois. The label is headquartered in Champaign, IL and has satellite offices in Berkeley, New York, and Chicago. The Polyvinyl roster currently consists of 39 active artists, including Alvvays, Xiu Xiu, and STRFKR, as well as longtime label signees like of Montreal, American Football, Deerhoof, and Rainer Maria. Recent additions to the Polyvinyl family include Pedro The Lion, Jeff Rosenstock, Anna Burch, Post Animal, The Get Up Kids, Grapetooth, and Shy Boys. Polyvinyl has put out over 350 releases to date.
In 1994, high school students Matt Lunsford and Darcie Knight from Danville, Illinois founded Polyvinyl Press, a fanzine created to celebrate the Midwestern D.I.Y. scene. As part of Polyvinyl Press’ third issue in July 1995, Lunsford and Knight released a split 7” featuring Back of Dave and Walker. With the fifth and final issue of Polyvinyl Press in May 1996, Lunsford and Knight put out an accompanying 20-track compilation, Direction, chronicling the current state of mid-‘90s Midwestern D.I.Y and marking the official transition of the fanzine to Polyvinyl Record Co. Lunsford and Knight established a 50/50 profit sharing model for the label.
Early releases, like the debut album from the Direction-featured band Rainer Maria, Past Worn Searching, and Braid’s 1998 album Frame and Canvas, set a national eye on Polyvinyl. The following year, Polyvinyl released American Football’s self-titled debut. This record has grown to be one of the best-selling releases on the label and established a working relationship with Mike Kinsella, who would later go on to release albums as Owen, Joan of Arc, and Their / They're / There on Polyvinyl.
In 2001, Knight and Lunsford moved the label from Danville, IL to Urbana-Champaign, IL to give Polyvinyl a better infrastructure to grow. Such growth led to the Polyvinyl 2003 Winter Tour, which commenced right after the January release of Rainer Maria’s Long Knives Drawn. Rainer Maria and Mates of State went out on the road with fellow labelmates Owen and Saturday Looks Good to Me. Later that year, Polyvinyl released the video of Rainer Maria’s Winter Tour set at Chapel Hill’s Cat’s Cradle and Mates of State’s third record, Team Boo.
In 2004, Polyvinyl began to be distributed by Alternative Distribution Alliance and added Athens’ of Montreal to the label family. of Montreal released their first album with Polyvinyl, Satanic Panic in the Attic, the same year.
Polyvinyl celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2006 with a concert featuring Headlights, of Montreal, Owen, and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin in Urbana, IL. The following year, Polyvinyl released Architecture in Helsinki’s Places Like This and of Montreal’s critically acclaimed Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, the best-selling album in Polyvinyl history.
Polyvinyl’s 2011 15th anniversary bash expanded on its previous anniversary show with a nine-band bill including Asobi Seksu, Braid, Deerhoof, Japandroids, Joan of Arc, Owen, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, STRFKR, and Xiu Xiu. Polyvinyl moved into their 16th year with the release of Japandroids’ Celebration Rock.
In 2014, Polyvinyl released another best-seller, Alvvays’ self-titled debut, and leading up to the label’s 20th anniversary, Polyvinyl expanded to a bigger location in Champaign in Spring 2015. After the label’s move, Beach Slang released their debut full-length that autumn.
In 2016, the label celebrated its 20th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, Polyvinyl released a compilation titled Polyvinyl Plays Polyvinyl, on which twenty Polyvinyl artists covered songs by their labelmates. With the help of Girl Skateboards and artist Jesse LeDoux, Polyvinyl also created a skateboard deck as a symbol of skate culture’s influence on Matt Lunsford’s musical discovery and the label’s early identity development.
2017 brought the release of sophomore records from White Reaper and Alvvays, The World's Best American Band and Antisocialites, respectively, as well as Jay Som’s first proper record for Polyvinyl, Everybody Works. All three albums closed out the year with spots on several year-end publication lists, including Pitchfork, NPR, Stereogum, and Paste.
At the start of 2018, Polyvinyl committed to donate 10% of mailorder revenue one Friday per month to deserving causes, especially organizations that strive to make progress in music communities. Donation recipients have included the Tegan and Sara Foundation, OurMusicMyBody, and Girls Rock! Champaign-Urbana.
In February 2018, Polyvinyl announced a partnership with Brooklyn-based independent label Double Double Whammy. Double Double Whammy, which started in 2011 as a project to release the founders’ project, LVL UP, has a catalog that includes Mitski, Frankie Cosmos, Hovvdy, Ó, Hatchie, and Florist, among others. Through this partnership, Polyvinyl provides distribution, accounting, webstore fulfillment, and other shared services, while Double Double Whammy maintains creative autonomy.
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