Best friends Wyatt Blair and Tomas Dolas founded Lolipop Records in 2010 in Laguna Beach. They desired to put out their own music, and that of others they liked. Their stuff is mostly psychedelic and garage rock from L.A. artists -- they're homies with Burger Records -- though they've also gone further afield.
Though available digitally, almost all of their works are pressed to cassette, and sometimes vinyl. Bands retain all rights to their work, and profits are nearly split down the middle. Lolipop has put out over twenty releases since 2012, and are releasing one tape a week all of June and July.
There are now six people involved with the label, and they do everything from filming videos to hosting live, in-studio sessions, to handling online content, to laying out album artwork. They also play in the bands. "It's weird," says Jeremy Katz, who deals with much of the PR stuff. "We don't really have certain positions."
Located in what used to be a computer repair shop on Glendale Blvd. -- right next to the Echoplex -- Lolipop Records' store opens July 13th, and there's a recording studio/practice space adjacent. The name of the manager of popular label act Blackfeet Braves is Henry Stotsenberg; he currently bankrolls both the studio and store, but the guys will start having to pay rent soon. "We just hope people will help support us, and buy tapes and records," says Lolipop's Wyatt Blair. "We don't care about money as long as this place can stay open."
The store is small, but it's clean and nicely laid out, complete with tape racks, boxes of vinyl, and a Nintendo 64 (a business expense, they say). They're an enthusiastic bunch; fans of The Beatles and psychedelic rock pioneers The 13th Floor Elevators, they laugh and joke constantly.
Whether or not it's pragmatic to release cassettes in a digital world doesn't seem to matter to anyone. "[Cassettes are] really cheap to make, and they're fun," Blair explains. "You can buy a whole record for five bucks. You can hold it. You can actually watch the music being played, rather than just clicking something."
Jeff Fribourg has several ideas for future tapes, he explains, referencing his band Froth. "We try to come up with as many little things that are a fun and new way to present a tape," he says. "There's a tape coming out [with] a double cover. The Froth tape has an alternative cover. I also put zines in all the Froth tapes."
Right now though, everyone's main focus is the store. More tapes will have to be pressed, more vinyl purchased. They also hope to sell Walkmans, as well as records on consignment. Oh, and they also want to buy a van for touring.
Whether or not all works out, there's something to be said for their hopefulness and energy. They're broke for now, but are doing what they love with people they care about.
"The goal for me would be that my day to day schedule would involve only my bands and Lolipop," Daniel Quintanilla says. "The money doesn't matter, I just want to be able to spend time doing this."
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