As the next election draws nearer, we cannot forget why we fight, or rather, who we fight for. Ruination Records surely hasn’t; the independent label is gearing up to release a compilation album called So Many Singing, Volume 2, where all proceeds will be donated to immigrant and refugee non-profit organizations. Among the 50 contributors to the album are Matt Kivel, Adeline Hotel, Ian Wayne, plus many more. There are two live shows scheduled to celebrate the massive release in Brooklyn and Chicago, with proceeds from each event going toward local charities in each respective city.
Ruination put out the first installment of the compilation in 2017 in direct reaction to the Trump administration’s proposed immigration ban. I was able to connect with the two founders of the New York-based label to ask them a few questions about how the compilation came together and what the future holds for Ruination Records. Read more below.
If you’re in New York on December 8th, check out the benefit show at Baby’s All Right, featuring Alena Spanger, Zooey Celeste, Onlyness and more; all proceeds will go to Make The Road NYC. If you’re in Chicago on December 13th, check out the benefit show at the Hideout, featuring Liam Kazar and Minor Moon; all proceeds will go to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
So Many Singing vol. 2 is out today; listen or purchase it on Bandcamp to support the International Refugee Assistance Project. For more information about Ruination Records, follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
An Interview with Ruination Records
What prompted the new compilation?
Dan Knishkowy: We see it as a continuation of the first volume from 2017, which also raised money for the IRAP. The seeds of that plan came about in the wake of the first immigration ban, and a lot of the conversations in our musical circles were around finding ways to channel our energy towards that. We took the name “So Many Singing” from a Will Oldham song, “The Brute Choir.” There’s a lyric—“I cannot rest with so many singing”—and taking that to heart in a couple of ways, it felt natural to keep this project going.
We’re lucky to have an ever expanding family of collaborators and like-minded artists so tapping into that turned out to be relatively simple. The label was always designed to be a community effort; we had no idea the level of interest in contributing would be this high and we’re grateful for that.
That’s not to say that donating money is by any means exhaustive of what action can or should be done. There are a number of artists on this compilation who are more heavily involved in community organizing and I’d like to take more cues from them, but this is a start for us. Beyond donating money, we find it important to represent local organizations at each release show. We will have representatives from Make The Road NY at the show in Brooklyn and Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in Chicago.
There are a whopping 50 artists on this record. How were you able to wrangle all these songs?
Andrew Stocker: The artists on SMS1&2 are friends and other artists we admire. We have some sort of personal connection with almost every artist involved in the project which feels nice to us. I think that comes through in some regard as we’ve had participating artists mention to us that being a part of SMS/Ruination feels like a big family. That extends past the music—our friend Benedict Kupstas (Field Guides) did the artwork and layout, and our friend Michael Downing, who plays in Sam’s project Minor Moon, did all the mastering. That familial aspect almost as important to us as the actual charity work. You can feel that same sense of community in the promotion of the project and we lean on this artist-driven network that the compilation allows for. Sometimes trying to promote something in isolation feels a bit like a drop in a bucket but when 50 different artists are all sharing the same thing it becomes very powerful.
What makes these songs special?
Dan: The goal for both compilations was to feature unreleased songs. Whether that means a b-side that got left on the cutting room floor, a work-in-progress demo, or an experimental side project, we wanted to give artists a chance to show a side of themselves they don’t normally have an outlet for. Artistically, there’s a lot of value to me both in sharing and seeing others’ processes.
Andrew: Yeah, as far as this project goes when artists ask us for what kind of stuff we’re looking for we generally say “the weirder the better.” We get a lot of pleasure out of featuring artists in a new light that might be less familiar to their principal listenership.
What other projects is Ruination working on at the moment?
Andrew: We’ve got some stuff in the works! Outside of the SMS project we’ve taken a little break from the label this past year, but we’re going to be back in the fold in 2020 with some new releases. Also, since announcing SMS2, a lot of artists have reached out to us about getting involved in the next volume. Anyone who wants to get involved can email us at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
We’ve also got the corresponding release shows for SMS2 coming up fast.