About HomeSkillet Records

What we do

HomeSkillet Records is a grassroots record label with a focus on digital distribution. We have an eclectic group of artists under the label and we do whatever we can to help them achieve their goals. Our initial motto was, “Steal Our Music,” as we gave it all away for free. Then a lightbulb went off that we need to make a little bit of money to provide any kind of service at all to our musicians. Now our motto is probably something more like, “Help Feed Nova.”

 

Our Humble Beginnings

HomeSkillet Records was founded in 2004 by Nicholas Galanin and George Huff. Both were going to school and living abroad when they began discussing the idea of taking what they had been experiencing in the Summers in Sitka, Alaska, and turning it into something more organized, a record label.

It was never intended to be a record label in a traditional sense, as both Nicholas and George were digitally saavy and the vision was more in line with distributing over internet than printing out CDs and touring.

In the first year Nicholas and George spent a lot of time talking about what they would like to do. Many conversations happened late at night over IM from England to New Zealand. Both having the same fondness for the community which raised them, it was only natural for the label’s home to reside in Sitka. Because of the plans to distribute over the web – the isolation from being in Sitka was looked at as incubation, and a chance for them to hone their skills with fellow HomeSkillet Records artists.

After the first Summer HSR officially had a couple of condenser microphones, a website, and a total of four artists living under the label. Silver Jackson recorded, “Meet You At 8″ for the first time in George’s parents basement and then it was put immediately on the web.  We had one million downloads in the first 72 hours.  And then we retired to a beach somewhere with blazing hot sun and free drinks.  After waking up we found ourselves in the dead of Winter with little to no traction for the label.

HSR has always described itself as a Summertime label – due only to the fact both Nicholas and George, as well as the rest of the HSR crew were always in Sitka in the Summer, and that’s when the most momentum was captured. After the second Summer HSR added three more bluesman to the roster, all while putting out two albums Silver Jacksons “Fools and Thieves,” and “Seal it in a Box,” a compilation of the first four HSR artists. 

 

The birth of HomeSkillet Fest

It was around this time Nicholas started getting restless. HSR had put on a few shows around town but nothing that matched the ambition of the label. It was then he began talking about putting on a festival. After deciding on the name HomeSkillet Fest (we are one trick ponies), the idea was put to the test and in the Summer of 2006, HSR put on the first HomeSkillet Fest. It was with this festival that the label started to gain legs financially – up to this point HSR had spent more money than it had made.  After this festival we had enough to buy George’s plane ticket up.  We were made.

Not really. The first HomeSkillet Fest taught us a lot about the art of, “event planning.” It was a very difficult time but we felt we could help solidify the youth music scene (think HomeSkillet and Feedus Productions) and the seasoned music scene (think jams at The Backdoor Coffee Shop) around a common theme of HomeSkillet Fest.  Between this union and our expanded network to musicians from the lower 48 – the lack of success financially ended up being a mute point and we still viewed it as a huge win overall.

The following year we released Strummin Dogs, “A Sign of Life” and for us it was a huge step in the right direction for putting together a full length solid album.  It was recorded in New Zealand and has been well received all around.

For the second round of HomeSkillet Fest we went even bigger, four nights, a website, a catalog, a dozen musicians flown in from around the country and very worn out HomeSkillet crew.  We received help from all over the community, anywhere we could find it, and in the end we still walked away feeling like we had been put through the ringer.  We work a ton to pull off HomeSkillet Fest and no matter what we do when the actual festival rolls around, we find ourselves completely understaffed and trying to be two or three places at once.

Despite the difficulty of it all, HomeSkillet Fest 2007 went off with a bang and we had a lot of fun.  We met even more musicians and had an even bigger turn out.  Which also meant that we ended up in the green financially.  We paid those who had helped out and volunteered their time and we paid ourselves a small salary of about $3/hr.  The rest of the money was put back into the label and into printing CDs and merchandise. We would have a whole lot less stress if we could pay for things like plane tickets before going around and looking for sponsorship dollars.  We did ok at best.