Multi-instrumentalist Janel Leppin is known as half of the experimental duo Janel & Anthony, but is also a musical adventurer in her own right. She’s long been attempting to release a solo album and running into obstacles along the way. Well, no more: This morning, Leppin announced that she has founded her own label, Wedderburn Records.
“I am co-releasing a new Janel & Anthony track as my first release,” Leppin wrote in a Facebook post. “A legendary artist I am talking to about a release soon will be announced and my solo album that has been waiting for a release for 3 years is finally going to come out.”
Shortly after making the announcement, Leppin talked to Arts Desk about her motivations for creating the label, what sort of music it will release, and the origins of its name.
Arts Desk: So let’s talk about Wedderburn.
Janel Leppin: Wedderburn Records is a home for my music, and other music that I love. Both Anthony [Pirog, Leppin’s guitarist husband and sometime musical collaborator] together and I separately have a huge backlog of material and we just want to start getting that music out. It takes a lot of time with bigger labels and this just makes more sense.
You had said something in your announcement about having had long talks with two labels. Care to elaborate?
JL: There was a lot of red tape and even some people wanted to put their own artistic stamp on it which I felt uncomfortable with. It is my solo record meaning that I played everything on it, wrote everything and produced it, so I didn’t want anyone wondering “who was really behind that record?”
Put their own artistic stamp on it…you mean they wanted to change the record?
JL: Yes sir! A finished recording I was submitting—finished, mastered, mixed. It actually happens a lot, unfortunately.
I’ve had some good friends who are doing very well in music recommend this to me when I was crying on their shoulders. They created their own labels, and it just helped them get the material out.
I was looking at David Bowie‘s discography and was thinking about how many albums he put out, and how short life is to waste waiting and hoping someone will even listen, let alone get back to you. Every musician understands this.
And you’re already talking to someone else about a release. Does that mean you’ve got ideas about expanding beyond releasing just yourself?
JL: Yes. I have always had an interest in releasing people’s music I love. I want to focus on musicians who I am inspired by. I am particularly interested in releasing music you “can’t quite put your finger on” and I will try to release a lot of music by women. I know so many musicians with a backlog of great material; it’s such a shame to let it sit in peoples hard drives forever.
That may answer the next question: whether there’s a particular sound or ‘brand’ that you expect Wedderburn to be identified with.
JL: I’ve been thinking about doing this for the past several years and honestly I think it will become clear as I begin releasing material.
What does the name mean?
JL: It’s my middle name. I grew up in the village of Wedderburn, in Vienna, Virginia [also known as “Midgetville,” a small enclave owned by the Wedderburn family that was demolished in 2008]. It was seven acres when I was living there—of virgin forest and gorgeous trees and barred owls.
My ancestors bought the property in 1896. Wedderburn was a place for artists, there was a piano in every cottage. And really it was a meeting place for musicians too; there was always a resident band living on the property. My grandmother Pollyanne and then my mother Jane ran the place and rented to artists mainly.
So you’re establishing it as a local label, in a sense.
JL: Very much so!
When will we start seeing releases?
JL: We haven’t officially released anything yet. I’m going to release my record on March 21st. We hope to release the Janel & Anthony track in the next few weeks.
Anything else you’d like to add?
JL: Just that I feel really excited and a little freed up by establishing this label. There’s so much energy and money that we spend making music and it’s just taking too long to get it out into the world.