I was 20 years old and no one liked my music.
I had worked for hours on end crafting these strange and weird soundscapes that my father described as “This is what it would sound like if you were fucked up on heroin and waiting in line for Space Mountain”. I understood that my music wasn’t for everyone. I understood that it might not even really be music. Yet, I felt there was something within these haunting tracks I’d created and I believed in myself enough to put them out there. Something I don’t think I would have the confidence to do now. But as I look back on this weirdly passionate and determined human being that I was, I am beyond thankful that I was cynical enough to push for something I truly believed in. If it wasn’t for these tracks, I never would have started this label that you are visiting the website of right now.
Prior to making music, I discovered the name Like Young while in a Bucca di Beppo’s in Louisville, KY. I was there for a celebration lunch after my girlfriend at the time had graduated high school. As I walked around the restaurant and took in the walls covered in various items from various times, I noticed this record with a man smiling mighty big. He had slicked back hair that was jet black and had enough product in it to make the lights bounce off the top. I couldn’t get enough of this guy’s vibe and his glee about the fact he was on the cover of a record. As I looked at the rest of the album artwork, I noticed the tagline to his album as it read, “Songs to make you live like young!” I studied this line over and over and was drawn to the last two words. LIKE. YOUNG. That night I told my friend about how I think this would be a great band name and he agreed. We’d had an idea to start a hardcore band under this name, but nothing ever happened. About a year and half went by and I started writing these weird songs and decided that this name I loved so much would finally get a home.
As I worked on these tracks in my bedroom, I thought about friends I’d had throughout high school and how I don’t talk to them anymore. It was weird because for every massive moment in my life, I wanted them to be there. I wanted to see what they would create and how they would accomplish things in their lives. I wanted them to see the things I would do and hope they enjoyed them as much as myself. But I knew that it was highly unlikely and that things would never be the same. I thought about past love and how amazing it was to feel that and cherish it. I thought about all of these things and emotions and channeled that into one five minute and four second song called Ab Ovo. My first song under the name Like Young. I remember finding Bandcamp, a site that was relatively new at the time. I worked on artwork that matched the overall tone of the track. I watched my mouse cursor hover over the publish button for quite some time, thinking if I really wanted to put it out there. I eventually clicked.
Shortly after that, I had posted about it on Facebook, letting people know I had made some weird little song and hoped they liked it. And the strangest and weirdest thing happened which was those friends I never thought I’d hear from again sent me messages, talking about how much they enjoyed this track. The first girl I ever fell in love with that I hadn’t spoken to in years sent me a message telling me how beautiful this song was. Everything I thought would never be in my life, all came back after this one little song. This was enough for me to continue writing.
I wrote more songs as time went on. I was publishing them as fast I could, just trying to generate content so if someone happened to end up on my page, they’d have enough to listen to and stay for a bit. As time went on I wanted these tracks to exist on a physical format. I would write emails to my favorite noise and ambient labels, hoping they would at least see it. Some wrote back giving encouraging words and expressing love for what I was doing. But during this time, no one seemed to really want to release it on a physical format. Yet, I never let myself think these songs were not good enough for physical treatment. I never told myself to stop and give up on this dream of seeing something with my name on it. Instead I told my broke-ass self the best and most reasonable thing you can do in this moment is to self-release your own fucking music. And I’m so happy I believed in myself.
I looked around various websites to see what I could do to make this a reality. Being a massive vinyl nerd, I figured I would press a record. Then I realized how insanely expensive this truly is and there is no possible way I could make this happen. I thought about doing CDs but it never seemed fun. To me CDs felt like those things we bought at shows growing up that ended up massive tubs under your bed. A waste of space to say the least. And then, I had the idea of “What if I did cassette tapes?”. I looked into costs and they were cheap. Even my broke-ass self who worked part time at Best Buy and was currently flunking out of college for his second time could afford this. I found some weird site that had cassette layout templates for Photoshop, something I would later discover that most graphic designers hated. The cover art was a photo I took and edited. I made a very illegal and heavily copyright driven insert. I didn’t know any better and it was beautiful. The picture used on the inside was of a pornstar I’d read about named Aunt Peg. I thought her story was interesting, which might sound strange, but so was this music. I edited the photo and put that inside. I threw in a seemingly deep poem I had written for good measure. I thanked local bands and heroes of mine like Ian Curtis and Spencer Krug and Albert Camus. I thanked Clarissa for believing in me. I thanked all these people who inspired me in many ways over the years and am beyond happy this insert exists the way it does. Some might find it embarrassing, but I see it as this moment in life where everything is summed up perfectly. I was this hopeful kid who loved those around him more than himself and found beauty in all these humans, some of which I never even knew. And if I had a chance to change any of it, I wouldn’t dare touch it.
I labeled the spine LY001.
I printed the inserts and left the guidelines on. That’s how poorly made these things were. I also didn’t have money to have them professionally done, so the sound is fuzzy, but played into the whole aesthetic, so let’s just say it was intentional. There is no way to know if you’re hearing SIDE A or SIDE B for they are not marked. They are just these translucent red rectangles with my hopes and dreams on them and I thought they were fucking perfect.
Some of my close friends threw me a release party to celebrate the arrival of the Ab Ovo/Sonorous demo. The song titles came from the ‘word of the day’ section of Webster’s website, because I didn’t know what to name them. Why not let the internet make it seem like I knew what the fuck these words meant? We listened to the tape, we drank many soft drinks and we played board games. Had anyone not known of our massive distaste for religion, you would’ve thought we were throwing the weirdest fucking Jesus party you’d ever witnessed. Thank you Zach, Madeline, Allison and Clarissa for this night. It was beautiful.
My friends bought a tape and my girlfriend’s dad, Albert, even bought one that night. Albert would then go on to buy a copy of every single release I ever did for the run of the label. Thank you, Albert.
The support was amazing and I couldn’t quite understand why I had these people in my life, but I was and always will be forever thankful for it. I then made a store, a really shitty one at that, to sell my tapes though. I posted about it on various pages I’d found online and got comments like, “Why cassettes?” and “How will I listen to this?” and another nugget from my father, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding. Cassettes?”
The fear was real and I instantly felt as if I fucked up massively. What was I thinking about and why did I waste this money? Why couldn’t I have just been happy enough with digital versions? Why did I always do this shit? I hated myself that night. I truly fucking hated everything.
The next morning, I wake up and look at my phone. The little mail icon at the bottom had a notification above it that read 26. I thought it would be spam or some weird video my dad sent me. And yet when I clicked on it, I realized they were all orders. Each order comes in two emails. One that’s from the store site and one from PayPal. This meant I’d sold 13 tapes in one night and one to each friend mentioned above. My first release was out of 25, therefore 18 were already claimed. I felt relief and I felt like this was something I could do again and again. Eventually I would sell all of those tapes and not only make my money back but a profit. I took that money and made a run of 25 tapes, this time translucent blue and still no labels on the tapes themselves, and released two other EPs I’d worked on. Those sold out quickly too. I cried.
From that moment on, I knew I wanted to keep doing this. But I was also wanting to see where I could take this. At this time, there was a local band by the name of Aquaventure who had just released an EP titled Legend. To say I was obsessed with this release would be putting things lightly. It was all I cared about and cared to listen to. The way these sounds would come together and the lush tones this band was able to capture blew my mind. I would study each moment of tracks like It Takes Diamonds and Drown and just feel a sense of completion in life. It was and still is one of the most beautiful listens any human can experience. I didn’t know the members of this band personally, but I knew the vocalist behind it was a human by the name of Corey Banet.
I’d found the contact button on their Bandcamp page and wrote up and email letting them know about what I was doing and how I thought I wanted to start a label and release music from artists that I loved and admired. I nerded out about how much I loved this release and most likely sounded like I was on drugs. But I didn’t care. I didn’t care if he came back with a “No”. I just needed them to know that this was something special and I would love to help get it out there in any way I could. Luckily for me, he not only said yes, but showed genuine interest in this process every step of the way.
During this time, I got to know Corey and now here we are 7 years later and I consider him to be one of my best friends in this entire world. He’s been there for me for many ups and many downs and he still continues to inspire me with everything he does. I love you, Corey and I know that soon enough this world will know and adore your work as much as I’ve been lucky to all of these years.
Once this release was done, things started to change in the best ways. Local music blogs like We Listen For You and Backseat Sandbar started talking about this release. People started sending me emails about what I was doing. People from high school started coming back around. People I’d never known were talking to me about this weird thing I’d done and how awesome they thought it was.
My life was changed from then on. I’m so fucking lucky.
Shortly after that, I started getting submissions from bands all over the world. The 4th Like Young Records release was a split from myself and an act form the UK known as Wolf Grey. Their sound was this strange cross over between screamo driven roots drenched in dark electro laced vibes. A very unique sound that I couldn’t not work with. From that release, there were articles published in the UK talking about my label and this upcoming release. I couldn’t stop freaking out about everything that was happening. After that, I worked with local acts like Quiethouse, releasing another split, both my sound and his drenched in minimal approaches to electronic music. I released a tape under the name SEXES, which was an offshoot of Like Young, but more dark and sinister. Then I released a tape from Literature and that’s the first time I remember the label becoming something bigger.
There is this incredible label run by an incredible human known as Square of Opposition Records. Chris is one of those people you meet that changes your life and they never even know it. I’d admired his releases over the years and really admired a band called Literature who had just released a record titled Arab Spring. It was one I would listen to over and over and never grow tired of. Beautiful pop melodies with punk driven mentalities, all wrapped up in this beautifully delicate record that is infectious in the best way. Chris released this record on vinyl and I was forever thankful for that. Then I got the idea of, “Why not try and release it on cassette?” I remember typing and then deleting emails all night to this band, trying to figure out how to let them know of my love and dedication for them and my eagerness to release this via cassette. I finally crafted an email and clicked send. That night I went to bed feeling so sick and stupid.
The next day I was working an early shift at Best Buy when I got an email back from Literature saying they were totally on board and thought it was a cool idea. However, I had to make sure it was all good with Chris before anything. I remember feeling nervous to send this message, because I didn’t want him to think I’m taking the glory away from him or anything. I just truly believed, like he did, that this record was something special. Shortly after I sent it, I got a response from him that was nothing but encouraging and supportive. The only stipulation: the band gets copies of this release for free. It was at this moment I fell in love with this man and his label more so than before. Because this is crucial.
When I did the Aquaventure release, it was out of 50 tapes. This release and like all my other releases for years to come have worked the exact same way:
I pay for everything up front.
The band gets half.
They keep all the money they make from their share.
I keep all the money I make from mine.
The fact that Literature didn’t have to mention this to Chris or have me run it by him, showed me how much they cared about him and his passion for this release. It was at this moment that I learned everything I was doing was how it should be done. Because everything I was doing wasn’t about money or sales, it was because I genuinely believed this record to be something beautiful. Thank you, Chris. For not just that, but for printing all my shirts over the years. I will never be able to repay you for everything you’ve done.
From that moment on, I had zero fear in asking any band to work with me.
Over the years I would search deeply into various pages on Bandcamp to find artists that would blow my mind. Artists that stunned me to the fact that no one had found and made them massive. It was always so weird to find a band who had no downloads and around 25-100 fans on Facebook. I wouldn’t believe any of it because their music was absolutely stunning. Acts like Sad Jock or Ghost Park. Why wasn’t anyone willing to help these bands out? Why? Why? Why?
And then I realized that — all of this is because of money. All of this is because labels are scared to take chances because they will lose money. All of this is because labels are scared that this band or that band will not sell as well as some others on their rosters. All of this was because of fear. Like Young Records was never about making money. It was always about working with bands of various sounds that I loved and passionately cared about, in hopes of spreading the word to you all. I know this label is small (maybe even micro) in comparison to a lot of other labels out there, but I ran it like it was massive, because I wanted everyone to hear my friends and their beautiful art.
Fuck money. Mind the tape.
In the past 7 years I’ve worked with so many artists and I genuinely believed in each one and am so proud of every tape I ever released. It was always about the connection that some kid, wherever they may be, could potentially make to this cassette. The fact that whatever tape they purchased, could be their listening material for years to come. What more could you want?
I remember there was a friend of mine whose friend voiced their opinion about how I was “spreading the label too thin” because I was releasing bands of all genres. How they thought it was better in the early days when I was just releasing my own music and stuff that sounded similar. But the truth is, I didn’t care about that. I listen to far too much music to limit this to one particular sound. The fact that someone can order a black metal tape and an indie-pop tape from the same label is something I pride myself on. And I understand, there are people who will not like everything I release. But that never bothered me. Because I believed in these releases and their ability to spread their message. And if they allowed me the chance to put it out there, that was everything to me.
Over the years I was fortunate enough to work with idols mine that I will never be able to comprehend how. Bands like The Number Twelve Looks Like You, who inspired me so much when I was younger. Bands like Transistor Transistor who released two of my favorite records that still blow my mind with every listen. Artists like Goddamn Electric Bill who introduced me to sound in ways I never thought possible. It also helped supply the soundtrack to many memories with a beautiful human that I will always cherish. To bands like Piglet who if you had told me and my friend Chris Heath (who I released a tape of his music under the name Sunbraids) that there was another band other than them, we would have laughed at you. All of these bands took a chance on a little label from New Albany, IN when they had zero reason to do so. They believed in me as much as I’d believed in them over the years and that is something I will never forget nor take for granted.
I released 75 tapes under Like Young Records. 75 beautiful and perfect tapes.
And here I am 7 years later, calling it quits.
The reason I decided to kill it is because it wasn't fun anymore and that was the one thing I always loved about it. When I started it 7 years ago, tape turnarounds were really quick because no one was doing cassettes. Now you have bigger labels who have a bigger clientele. These bigger labels who have bigger orders get seniority over a little dudes like me. Plus, things have changed in this world. The cassette boom is insane. Which is beautiful. I mean, you have distributors like Urban Outfitters who are releasing albums on cassettes now. Something I never would have thought possible.
Turn around times take months instead of weeks. Which sucks for the artist and makes it harder for me to know when I can get releases into hands. And I've always cared about creating a happy and easy experience for my supporters and it was becoming harder to do it. As much as I love it and care about it, is as much as I want to make everyone who has loved it happy. And I don't think it's really all that possible anymore.
For years, I was like what if I took it in my own hands and tried doing it here, but the costs to keep my product at the quality level I’ve been dishing out is massive. To resort to anything less would be a blow to my aesthetic and a disservice to you all. I would rather go out now with Green Gerry’s latest as my final goodbye. Not only is it a beautiful record that deals with melancholy and the struggles with life and happiness (suiting) but it’s also the most elaborate packing I’ve done over the years. To end this label with something I’m super proud of, by a person whose work I’ve admired since back in the Dally days, felt beautifully right.
I know I could post stories about each release and tell you the love I have for each band, but this would become a novel (which it already kind of is). If there is ever one release you want to read about, please, send me an email and I would be honored to tell you all about it.
Since announcing this is coming to an end, there has been such a beautiful outpour of love for what I’ve done that has truly been the most humbling and beautiful thing to happen in my life. It’s hard to recognize how much people care about the releases I’ve put out there, because you just pack up the orders and send them out and hope they get them and enjoy them. But when someone reaches out to let you know about the first tape they got from me and how much it means to them, makes me know that this was all worth it.
Like Young Records is just as much yours as it is mine.
None of this would have ever been possible if it wasn’t for each and every one of you. To see the many heads this label was able to grow has been incredibly rewarding and lovely. I’m not the best at this thing called life, for it’s something I struggle with on a daily basis. But I hope that no matter what, you all know that I love you more than this world and will always be thankful for everything you’ve given me and allowed me to do. I don’t know what I did to deserve this much love and support, but I will always be more than thankful for it.
I will end this with one last thing:
If you are out there and you are making music and you are not being heard from anyone or are feeling like giving up: don't.
This world needs new music.
This world needs your voice.
This world needs your weird noise project.
If there isn't anyone out there releasing your music, it doesn't mean it's bad, it just means that life is crazy and people aren't taking chances on artists like they used to.
This just means, you MUST do it yourself.
Make your own tapes.
Make your own CDs.
If you're lucky, press your own record.
Never let anyone tell you your music isn't worth pursuing.
I hope to someday hear your band or see your label or whatever it is you all create.
For it will be beautiful.
I love you all so much.
Fuck Money. Mind the tape. We were a cult.
Continue to obey the tape deck.
Tonight, we live Like Young.
P.S. I would like to give a massive shout out to my good friend Jesse Squires who created and ran the Like Young Records website for many years. I’ve known Jesse since elementary school when were obsessed with Blink-182 and going to school dances just to sit at a table we dubbed the “Loser Table” because that’s how cool and sad we were. To have him still be a part of my life and a massive inspiration behind this label and everything I do, will always remain something I’m forever thankful for. I know he’s the one who will be posting this to the site, so we shall see if this makes the cut.