From the perspective of a music fan, there is very little that truly compares to the live experience because live is where the music lives. Where every performance is unique unto itself due to being a specific, magical moment in time and something that’s rarely replicated. Chris Jahnle of Kill/Hurt Records (based in Los Angeles, CA) seems to understand that. He is, after all, a music fan.
He’s only 27 years old but Jahnle has something of an “old school” frame of thought where Kill/Hurt Records (launched as a cassette label in 2010 and has since expanded into vinyl) is concerned. You remember cassette tapes, right? Sure you do. And as a form of media those things evoke very specific memories of hand (and heart) crafted mix tapes, cracked plastic cases, recording favorite songs of the radio (while trying to get as little of the DJ blabbing over the song as possible), and the eraser end of pencils for rewinding. It’s a lot of nostalgia but it’s also the preciousness of the ownership as Kill/Hurt’s releases (from artists like the Babies, Tijuana Panthers and Brendan Welsh) were limited in number and fairly specific in their audience.
“Pretty much all my friends are either in bands or working with bands in some capacity.” Chris states. Seeing how Los Angeles has no shortage of bands vying to be seen and heard, it only seems natural that Jahnle, the music fan, would venture into creating a way to expose bands and artists that he’s a fan of to more audiences. Particularly their live aspect. Create. Capture. Share. Enter Kill/Hurt/Live: the new monthly live album series recorded at some of LA’s most notable venues like the Satellite, the Echo, Amoeba Records and more showcasing those up and coming artists. The series’ inaugural release featured local favorites, The Diamond Light whose residency at the Satellite in November 2014 was a raging success. In the words of Jahnle, himself: Kill/Hurt/Live.
High Voltage: What’s your background in the music industry?
Chris Jahnle: I worked at Interscope for a year, doing digital marketing. Then I was head of web development at The Collective, which was a management company, for two years. From there I started a web development company; I’ve been doing that for a little over two years now. That established the basis for me to be able to start Kill/Hurt.
HV: With cassette tapes and the vinyls, there’s a niche market for that. How are you translating that into the live series? How do you want to grow Kill/Hurt from that?
Chris: I’ve been doing live recordings for a number of years and I just thought it was perfect. The live recording is a really special thing: to capture a band in their element in a live show with audience interaction and everything. It’s a unique snapshot of the band at that time in their evolution or their lifespan.
Coming into 2015, we’re putting the label forward with the live series to build an audience around the label and curate this body of work that we can have an archive, even work with bands that maybe are between album cycles or assigned to other record labels.
HV: Where many music fans are concerned, the best part of the experience is the live experience. It sounds great on record, but there’s something about that very electric and very visceral thing that bands put forward live that you won’t find on the record, because it’s always unique. The Diamond Light: Why did you choose to start the series with them?
Chris: I’ve been friends with those guys and they’ve evolved as a band since I’ve known them. I went to the first residency night and I was really blown away. They’re one of the local bands that I feel like is really coming into their own right now as musicians and songwriters. That’s why I wanted to work with those guys right out of the gate.
HV: Are you just doing this with local bands?
Chris: For this year we’re just going to do LA bands performing in and around LA, like Bootleg, the Echo, the Satellite. The second release is Tennis System at Amoeba Records, which is going to be a really cool, interesting live album. They did an in-store at Amoeba and we were able to record that. The band for April is a band called Green Gerry, they’re a very new band. We recorded them at the Satellite: their set was just amazing that night.
HV: What were you listening to when you were growing up?
Chris: Rock and roll music. My dad was a big Who fan. He got into all that really 90’s stuff, so when I raided his CD cabinet, it was The Who by Numbers and Pearl Jam, basically. From there, you get into Velvet Underground, Black Sabbath and Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., that kind of thing.
HV: Where are you at, musically, today?
Chris: A conversation I’ve been having recently is a lot of the music that I listen to on a daily basis is from local bands from Los Angeles and local scenes that might not be around anymore. I feel like I’ve been around this Echo Park scene for the better part of the past five to eight years. You see bands come and go. That’s another thing I want to do with the live series is capture these bands in a moment where they’re relevant and try to create a sustainable outlet for their music, even if they end up breaking up or don’t necessarily go as far as they planned.
HV: Talking to a friend of mine, we were talking about the framework of the “LA music scene” and how it’s really only sustainable when it supports itself. Like when bands come out and see other bands, when bands put their friends on the bill.
Then there’s someone like you, who’s trying very hard to bolster the profile of these local bands. Like you said, that’s another interesting thing about when bands break up and then you miss them, but if you’re fortunate enough to capture them at some point, that’s something. Like Vanaprasta. I loved Vanapasta.
Chris: Yeah, they’re a great example. They actually just reformed as Sun Drug and they’re coming out with an EP. Yeah, they’re a great example, around for five or so years. And then for whatever reason, momentum slows down or the scene changes, life happens. The next thing you know, that body of work is part of that catalog of all the Echo Park bands.
That’s what I’m on right now: just figuring out a way to support the bands on the whole and have some document of what’s going on, because as those years pass and stuff and you look back, I feel like that’s really important. It’s where everything’s coming from.
Like you said, the bands supporting each other, it’s really important for them to do that. If one band has success, they can really help out the others. Last night, The Record Company put Ivory Deville on the bill. That’s a great example. Some of these bands have more a keystone role in the neighborhood than others.
HV: Okay: Bucket list bands you would love to record live and release?
Chris: That’s a tough one. Maybe Dinosaur Jr. Sonic Youth broke up, but that would be epic.