Introducing: The Miscreant
I absolutely love The Miscreant. The New York zine/label has been doing some really cool things in its (thus far) short lifetime. I recently jumped on Skype to chat with founder Jeanette Wall about all things Miscreant. We pretty much covered it all, so read on, traveler.
So Jeanette, let’s get things started off with you introducing yourself to the rest of the group.
All right, so, I’m Jeanette Wall. I run a label called Miscreant Records and a music zine called The Miscreant. I’m a miscreant. My friend Ray McAndrew of SSWAMPZZ once defined a miscreant as learning to love yourself the way you are, which I really appreciate. (Likes: comedy podcasts, Gin Blossoms, coconut anything; dislikes: doing laundry)
Cool! So I noticed that you are part of something called The Bandier Program. What’s that about? Does that play into what you do with The Miscreant?
Oh, for sure! It’s a multi-disciplinary program at Syracuse U that covers music industry and business. It’s a very new program, as I’ll be in the third graduating class. I am actually fortunate in that a lot of what I do outside of class, namely the label and zine, can be counted for credit. And everything I’ve learned from my classes has shaped what I ultimately hope to end up doing long term with the label, the brand, and the zine.
So ever since I first found out about The Miscreant I’ve wondered, which came first the chicken or the egg? Is the label an offshoot of the zine or vice versa?
Well, I guess the easiest way to describe it was that the idea for the label came first, but I actually started working on the zine before I got serious about putting out music. I had a few blogs when I was in middle school and high school that carried the miscreant name (Midwestern Miscreant); then I had a radio show (Miscreant’s Mixtape). I was reading Leslie Simon’s book ‘Wish You Were Here’ as part of some research I did for a paper about music scenes. I learned a lot about the beginnings of some of my favorite labels: Sub Pop, Saddle Creek, etc, and saw similarities between what I was doing and what the folks who had started those scenes did. It got me really inspired!
I started the zine over a year ago when I was living in Brooklyn. It started off as being music oriented, but having short stories and poetry and art included as well. Then I got this offer from a friend Ryan who manages the New Rochelles. He asked about doing a feature, this was maybe in August of 2011. I thought it was a great idea and I’ve been featuring artists on the cover with an inside interview ever since! In the fall, I read Merge Records‘ book. It was just the push I needed to start Miscreant Records. Mac and Laura are my heroes.
I’ve noticed that there seem to be a lot of camaraderie between the bands that you represent, almost in a collective sense. Does that come from the area you hail from? Or are those relationships a byproduct of being involved with The Miscreant?
I think it’s a little of both. Mostly, I think we all just love each other’s visions and music. A lot of the artists I’ve had on Miscreant covers are from Syracuse, or the NYC area. I contacted Dumb Talk for the first time early in the fall of last year about being on the cover. Ended up learning about the bands they’re friends with, like QUARTERBACKS. And the first band I started working with on the label was SSWAMPZZ, and we put out that tape in March. As soon as that was all squared away, I started thinking about who else I wanted to work with right away. Around the same time, QUARTERBACKS and Dumb Talk were talking about recording full-lengths. You could say the stars aligned. It just so happened that everyone really enjoyed everyone else’s music, and we miscreants all sort of fell in love.
I absolutely love the band illustrations on the zine covers. Who does all of them and how did you get in contact with them?
Lizzy Scafuto and I met when she came to a launch party of the radio station that I’m general manager of, and we became very good friends instantly! She had just transferred from FIT to SU, and is now a painting major, I believe. She was one of the first people I asked about helping me with ideas for the zine. She was really into the idea and signed on to help me with whatever sort of small illustrations I needed, as well as the cover. Lizzy’s done ever cover illustration, and is always up to talk to bands about personalizing them. A lot of times, groups will use them for promo or show posters or on social media. Lizzy also illustrated the jacket for the Mouth’s Cradle vinyl, and took one of the photos included in the QUARTERBACKS j-card. It’s been amazing to see how they’ve evolved. I’m super blessed to have her support; she (and my parents) has been team miscreant since day one. To have her believe in this project so much, an dedicate so much to it, is simply incredible. Also, another note on Lizzy: we just had breakfast at Tick Tock Diner this morning and she brought Sriracha sauce with her. She’s that badass.
Now from what I know The Miscreant is open to submissions from pretty much anyone. For instance, the delightful Dwight and Liz Pavlovic of Decoder fame recently contributed a column about some noteworthy tape releases. How awesome would it be if this interview garnered you thousands of gnarly submissions?
You know, it’s funny you mention that. I’m just now starting to get submissions from people who I don’t get regular opportunities to badger about it. It’s amazing to have people sending me reviews and interviews with new bands I’ve never heard of and have the chance to discover.
Also, having folks like Dwight and Liz submit is really cool! I love Decoder and Crash Symbols. Also, Hugh of Crimes Against Hugh’s Manatees has started submitting a regular comic, which is a huge honor. It’s really awesome that I have so many amazingly talented people in my life who are passionate about music.
No doubt. Ok, so I guess my final question to you is gonna be a two-parter. What sort of cool tricks does The Miscreant have up its sleeve for the coming months, and what other long-term plans are you making (if any)?
Well, this week (7/23) I’m going to be a guest on Ear Candy and begin a regular segment on their podcast. Madeline Ava, Dumb Talk, and xylofaux are artists you can look forward to being on the cover of the Miscreant. Also, I’ll be in London this fall. So, the beautiful Karen Edith Millar, aka the British Miscreant, and I are cooking up some fun things to do while across the pond.
Any parting words? Lay them on me.
I recently got Lost In Space on Blu-Ray for $7. I like to think of it as a fictional adaptation of the TV show and that Matt Leblanc is really Joey from Friends, and then they made it real. It’s Matt and Joey as Don West. SO META.
Anyone who would like to submit can! Email your reviews, interviews, lists, anything to do with music to [email protected]!