Contraphonic Music Ltd.: Building a Label

by Thomas Durkin

Contraphonic Music Ltd. has officially entered into the independent music industry. In support of their fledgling label, bands IFIHADAHIFI and Sounds Like Braille recently fronted a CD release party at the Onopa Brew Pub. In an e-mail conversation, Ben Schulman, who does press, radio, and ads for Contraphonic, commented on the new label. Thomas Durkin: What does the Contraphonic label offer the independent music fan? Ben Schulman: Contraphonic strives to build a certain aesthetic to the records we release and… build some sense of community within an oft-times fractured scene. Our bands don’t necessarily have anything sonically in common with one another, but rather they have the same mindset in the way they approach their work: that being honesty and full-belief, which is why any of these bands could seemingly play a show with one another. There’s a real non-ironic sense… the bands we work with and the label itself cultivate a feeling that this really matters. Indie-rock, whatever form it takes, can still be a galvanizing force. Hopefully that’ll extend to the fans we hope to reach, not to take yourself too seriously, but to fully immerse yourself and invest in the music that’s out there. All bloated talk aside, we simply are here to give the kids what they want, revolution through dance. Tom: How do you find/evaluate the talent on your label? Ben: Each band has a different story, and seeing as the label is based in both Chicago and Milwaukee, we get exposed to much on our own and come together with a zillion ambitions. With these first three releases in March (IFIHADAHIFI, Sounds Like Braille, and Lesser Birds of Paradise), a real nice familial feel runs throughout. When No Karma was still a label…we put out the first IFIHADAHIFI record. Michael (Wojtasiak — sales and shipping) has known Sounds Like Braille for quite sometime…and…The Lesser Birds of Paradise are close friends…and share members with my band, Branches. So in some capacity, it’s a very incestuous, loving family. We’re also incredibly lucky to be working with two bands that we’ve admired for quite sometime and inspired us to get involved in music in the first place. In April and May, we’ll be releasing the rarities record by indie-stalwarts New Radiant Storm King, and a split EP with The Wrens and The Five Mod Four. Luck doesn’t come close to expressing how humbled and shocked we are to be working with these great bands. Tom: What draws you to the Riverwest music scene? Ben: It’s the honest approach that comes through. It seems like kids in Milwaukee and Chicago, and slowly all across the land, are rediscovering that music can make a difference. We all want a new dance, and it comes through in Riverwest and its environs. The bands on the Contraphonic label provide a breath of fresh air. As Schulman notes, they don’t have much in common in terms of sound. Rather there is a sincerity in the music that comes shining through. Based on early releases put out by the label, Contraphonic certainly has the potential to make a mark in the independent music scene. To find out more about Contraphonic Music Ltd., including upcoming shows, CDs, etc., visit