“When I began Joyful Noise Recordings in 2003 I was a freshman in college. The label was created solely for the purpose of putting a pseudo-label name on the back of my then-bands CD (Melk The G6-49). I had very little aspirations for growing the label into something legitimate. The name was chosen mostly because I thought it would be an appropriate name for a noise label, and it seemed to embody the idea of making noise that was passionate and enlightened. The music of my band was meditative, noisy, and impulse driven. We attempted to make noise beautiful – a stark contrast to the many musically nihilistic noise bands out there. To this day I feel like the name holds up: as a label we strive to release music that lies somewhere between pop and noise. Not harsh noise, nor traditional indie rock, but music that is an inventive expression existing in between the two sides of the spectrum.
However, as the label has grown so have the “humm, is that some sort of Christian thing?” comments.
So, here is the deal: we are not a Christian label. To my knowledge none of the bands currently on the label are comprised entirely of religious believers of any one persuasion. Some bands may have religious believers among their members, but this is not something we are particularly aware of or interested in (unless it’s somehow essential to understanding their art). Religion is not something we factor in when deciding to work with a band.
However, I do love confusing people and challenging their ideas about religion as it relates to culture/art. Though religion is in no way a stipulation of ours, we do acknowledge that it can be a valuable catalyst for honest and sincere art. I would not shy away from working with a religious band, provided that they were artistically honest and aesthetically on par. Even though religion has been responsible for as much bad music as it has historic atrocities, good music should never have to carry a stigma simply because some other dude wrote a shitty song on the same topic. That’s like stigmatizing Neil Young because Toby Keith also wrote songs inspired by war.
For those who were raised in the evangelical Christian traditions, “Joyful Noise” seems to activate this same stigma. (BTW: this is because of a phrase in Psalms, which is ahem, a JEWISH text – why doesn’t everyone think we are a Jewish label?). As bothersome as it is at times, we try to combat the stigma and challenge people’s ideas on the topic. It is an unfortunate religious connotation (wah.. wah..) but it is also an irrational stigma which thoughtful people should overcome. And in the end, it’s an appropriate name for what we do.
As a person, I simply strive to be honest with my religious beliefs. Which basically means I’m agnostic. As a label, we are happy to release inventive religious-inspired music alongside of Montreal’s genital draining fuckfests. We see no conflict.”
President / Curator, Joyful Noise Recordings