Sometimes, when a little tipsy after a night out, and sitting on my sofa trying to sober myself up with a hefty portion of carbs to help prevent the inevitable hangover, I end up browsing online shopping. Lacking in willpower at the best of times, my bank account sometimes sees some unexpected purchases in the wee hours. One I have never regretted was the buying of Yellow Bird Project’s Indie Rock Colouring Book, something I discovered in one of those retail therapy twilight hours a few years ago. Set up to harness the creativity oozing from indie musicians and direct it towards something else valuable and meaningful, its founders Casey and Matt have worked with numerous bands and artists and grown the brand from strength to strength. Here they tell us more…
How did you come up with the idea for Yellow Bird Project? Most ‘music for good’ things are around charity gigs etc, whereas here you have something really original.
Back in the uni days we spent a lot of time listening to music and we went to gigs whenever we could. We’d splurge on the occasional band t-shirt, but for the most part we found these garments to be severely lacking. Most of them were plain, unoriginal, and uncomfortable. Worst of all, they were way too expensive. It was a rare thing to find a good band t-shirt that really stood out.
So as an answer to this problem we decided to take matters into our own hands. We went out and approached some of our favourite bands, asked them to create original designs and to choose a charity. Then we built a website and printed the t-shirts to sell online, with all profits benefiting the charity of said musicians. It was really just an experiment that sort of took on a life of its own.
The film Field of Dreams is cited as one of your inspirations for the project. What was it about the film that inspired you?
‘If you build it, they will come.’ Somehow that phrase really resonates with us. In a way, it sort of embodies the whole DIY aesthetic, which is: if you create something independently and you do it because you really believe it to be good, then likeminded people will always follow in your tracks. The concept grows and the dream can be shared with other people.
The hardest part is reaching that goal, facing the obstacles in between, doubting yourself and questioning; ‘is this really worthwhile’? You put all of this time into doing something different while the rest of the world looks on as if you’re some kind of crazy person! Kevin Costner understands…
It’s a nice, eyes wide open idea, and I can imagine you being full of enthusiasm as recent graduates. Are you still hopeful that the world will change in good ways, and the charities that you work with will achieve their aims?
We’re not recent graduates anymore, but yes, we are still very hopeful!
Which may explain your new project. You’ve just launched Analog.am. Tell us about that.
Analog.am is an online, independent record store, which we launched only just recently. It’s a side-project with similar aims: to raise awareness of independent artists and encourage people to buy their music.
After 6 years of indie rock fundraising, we decided it was time to turn the page. So with all of the experience we gained through Yellow Bird, we flexed our e-commerce muscles and built a web store stocked with over 50,000 vinyl records, mostly of the indie variety, but also other genres, such as punk, blues and electronic.
CD sales are falling and store-fronts are dropping like flies, yet despite this, vinyl records sales are actually on the rise. Who knows why? Maybe it gives people a better reason to pay for music? Is it the big giant artwork, the difference in sound quality, or the nostalgia that people adore? Nobody knows for sure, but one thing this trend does indicate is that people still love music. That will never change.
Who has particularly surprised you in their creations, either in what they have designed or their hidden talents?
We got a t-shirt design from The Dears, which came from Murray and Natalia’s (front man and keyboardist) 4 year old daughter, Neptune. She managed to write her name down, which was pretty impressive, I thought.
Do you ‘read’ the designs for hidden meanings? Let’s take the t-shirts, what do you think the following ‘mean’?
Come check out our swanky little house, it’s made of NEON! Inside, you’ll find lots of wonderful things to play with.
Everyone is connected and life invariably comes full circle.
Youth is drowning.
If you could get any artist to design for you, who would it be, and what you hope for?
It would be by Joanna Newsom and I would hope for a horse or a unicorn. That would be my dream t-shirt, I would wear it all the time.