How Was 2021 For The Architect Of Canadian Indie Label OFF WHITE HOUSE RECORDS And Her Fast Growing Team

20 December 2021


(photo by Turn Up The Volume)

Another troubled pandemic year, causing a wide varied range of big and small problems for humankind around the world is nearing its end. Hard to say what the future will bring as the viral enemy comes and goes, but never disappears, so far.

Despite the daily-life-altering confusion, Canada-born musician/singer-songwriter and indie addict Laura Lee Schultz re-activated her beloved Off White House Records label and signed several must-hear acts. A heart that’s dedicated to someone/something is a determined one that beats even harder when times are difficult.

Let’s hear Laura Lee‘s
heart beating…

You revitalized your label OFF WHITE HOUSE RECORDS
with loads of sonic fuel. What made you do it?

“I had a different life plan when 2020 began. Down The Lees was going to continue
playing shows around Europe, ERIIS with Naomi Sijmons (Renna Riot) and Mirabelle
Van De Put
(HAZE) would be unleashed on the world, and summer looked inviting!

However, we all know what happened there. After the first lockdown, my partner
and I decided it would be wise to move closer to my family in Canada. It was
a difficult decision for me because I adore Belgium!

We were getting ready to go when Mirabelle said she wanted to release her lockdown album and launch HAZE. I offered to help and added her to the Off White House roster and provided her with support for the release. I wasn’t playing shows and I wasn’t writing. But I wanted to keep active in music. So I built a website, reached out to a few of my friends to see what they are doing and voila, roster.

I really wanted a place where new bands can collaborate and support each other. I don’t know if you have noticed, but everyone on the label gives kudos to each other on their socials. There is quite a bit of mutual respect going on.

I may be the founder of OWH, but we really want to operate as a collective.”

Do you have to be crazy to run an indie
record label in this day and pandemic age?

“Yes…and no. The model is changing. We always need music. That was very apparent
when the world shut down. We consumed so much music last year. It was insane!
We just didn’t have a chance to see our favorite bands live.

But we kept writing and putting music out. There will always be a need for music,
but the delivery of it evolves. And artists need to be compensated better for it.
Don’t get me started on the streaming debate.”

The “White House” in the logo doesn’t really look like
the one in Washington. Is it your own dream house, perhaps?

“It is definitely not the house in Washington! It was a run-down house in East Vancouver that was supposed to be white but was so discoloured from age. It stank like mold, was very cheap and I had a jam space in the basement. That is where the first Down The Lees album was written.”

How did the impressive roster come together so quickly?

“Well, I put my ear to the ground and just listened. Once I decided to open up the roster, I started talking to friends and looked around on the internet. HAZE was first. Bronson Arm came along because of Noise Rock Now, a FB group that is excellent. I found Foxeagle on Instagram and instantly fell in love.

I also have a few longtime friends in BC with new bands (Fantasy Boys, Bonnuit), and it just grew from there. Now I get emails with bands pitching their songs wanting to be on the label. That is how ’00_’ joined. And it’s growing! It didn’t take very long. Once the word spread, it was just a matter of deciding who to add.”

A couple of months after the label’s rebirth, your first excellent compilation came about. I always wondered how different artists end up on the same album. Who’s the architect and how does it actually work for compilations, Laura?

“The shocking, and unfortunately not surprising, discovery of the remains of 215 children at a Kamloops residential school prompted all this. It wasn’t hard to convince bands on the label to be part of a compilation that is a benefit for the Indian Residential School Survivors.

I live, work and play on the traditional, unceded territory of the Okanagan/Syilx people.
We wanted to do something to help our indigenous communities and this was one way we knew how. It was an excellent exercise for the bands because we all chipped in to make it happen. From artwork, to mastering, to content curation.”

The compilation is labeled VOLUME 1. So when can we expect VOLUME 2?

“We will have another one next year! Not sure what the theme will be, but it
will be excellent as the bands are writing and recording in the coming months.”

If you had the opportunity, which famous bands, from
the past and/or present, would you really love to sign?

“Oh wow, that is a can of worms! Would I want to sign bands that would make me rich so
I can have 5 houses? Or would I want bands that are not famous but feed my soul. I think the latter. Famous to me may not be to others. If Shannon Wright or Pile knocked on my door, I wouldn’t turn them away. Ultimate respect.”

What is your own musical status as an artist right now, Laura Lee? Plans?

“I have a few songs written that I recorded myself (with the help of a friend).
I plan to release them next year. If the world can get itself together by spring,
I’ll be back to Europe with some shows.”

Can indie labels survive the by now almost 2 years of pandemic drama?

“Some will and some won’t. Just like the fate of anyone or any business during
this crazy time. The mental aspect of this is heartbreaking. You may have the best
intentions and community behind something, but life can get in the way.

Most bands don’t survive, lots of labels don’t survive. I’m going to try my
best to honour the talent on this label as long as my heart will let me.”

The best track and album of 2021.

“I love all the bands on the label so I am not going to play favorites.
If I had to choose outside of the label:

Track: Racist, Sexist Boy – The Linda Lindas
Album: Hey What – Low.”

Are you a fan of traditional Xmas carols, Laura? If so, which is your favorite one?

“Traditional, not so much. Although, I’m a very nostalgic person and enjoy revisiting Brenda Lee or Darlene Love with a cup of hot apple cider. But if you are talking about The WaitressesChristmas Wrapping or Type O NegativeChristmas Mourning, I’m all in.”

Which song will be on your stereo on 31st December at midnight?

“During my youth, I used to stay home alone on New Year’s Eve to write and record
a song. It was an annual ritual. I wanted to avoid the pressure of having a drunken night that I wouldn’t remember in the morning. That was the first song I would hear at midnight. I haven’t done that in a long time. Maybe I should do it again. Definitely a good way to set intentions for the year, I think.”

Three things you really love to happen in 2022 for the label and/or personally?

“In no particular order:

Releasing a lot of new material for bands on the label and partnering with new acts that collaborate on such an inspiring level.

Return to Belgium/Europe for a month in the Spring to play some shows and visit friends that I miss dearly.

Improve mental health. This is something that is not talked about very much at all. This pandemic has been very damaging for artists on so many levels. The most heartbreaking of all is the depression, sadness and isolation that we feel. It is a loss of a dream. A loss of who we used to be. My friend Riel Hahn put it this way, “There actually is nothing else. Just this, that is only mine. It’s not my family, it’s not grief, it’s not romance, or deeply working on decolonizing. It’s just the thing I am, I do, I love, I excel at, where my edges are.” That has been taken away from us, and it is hard to reconcile with. My hope is that we can all help each other get through this, and honestly admit how dull our edges are. I, for one, have had a very terrible time with all of this. But I will continue to try and not give up. That is what I wish for everyone in 2022. To not give up.”

Thank you, Laura Lee, for this interview.
may the road rise with you, the label, and
all its artists in 2022.

Buy yourself your Xmas gift
and have a noisy night with Santa


.
Full OWH roster (click on name for more info)

00_ (Australia)
Bonnuit (Canada)
Bronsom Arm (US)
Dating Myself (Canada)
Down The Lees (Canada)
EP Island (Canada)
ERIIS (Belgium)
Fantasy Boys (Canada)
Foxeagle (France)
Haze (Belgium)
New Years Resolution (Canada)
Seperation Agreement (CA/BE)

OFF WHITE HOUSE RECORDS: Bandcamp – Website

The DIY First Lady Of Indie Label OFF WHITE HOUSE RECORDS Reveals Her International Future Plans

28 April 2021

In these science-fiction-like pandemic times when all sorts of industries/business
threaten to collapse (certainly the small ones for obvious reasons) it takes guts and courage to get up, stand up and fight for the future of your small and vulnerable indie label. That’s exactly what Canada-born musician and DIY centipede Laura Lee Schultz
did. She re-injected her beloved Off White House Records with vital fuel and decided
to go international. Respect!

Laura Lee told us anything you need to know about
the past, the present and the future of her label.

What’s the Off White House Records story so far, Laura Lee?

This humble little label started in the bedroom of a decrepit, haunted house in the suburbs of East Vancouver. As an independent artist for over 25 years, I consider myself lucky to have cut my teeth in the 90s when rock bands were being courted by major labels like it was going out of style. And yes, it did go out of style. Grunge. But my love for rock music never did.

My previous projects all had devoted fan bases and I experienced so much being in those bands, including business. So I took what I learned, started a label and released the first Down The Lees album in 2005. Since I was doing the whole album myself, I needed to jump into the process with both feet. From writing and playing all of the music, going into the studio, planning the CD duplication, distribution and marketing. Ever since then, I have been releasing material with many bands I have played with over the years.

Cut to 2020. When everything changed. I was living in Ghent, Belgium when Down The Lees was playing shows in Belgium, France and the Netherlands to support the Steve Albini recorded album ‘Bury The Sun’. Then everything stopped. As the months dragged on, it became painfully obvious that things were going to drastically change for the entertainment industry for a long time. After the initial shock wore off, the idea of supporting other artists started to percolate and I made my way back to Canada to live in the Okanagan Valley and be close to family.

At that point, HAZE was looking to release an album and I couldn’t have been happier to help her with it. That experiment made me think that signing and helping other artists was what I wanted to do with the label.

Main goal of the international adventure?

Why did I get into music in the first place? It’s because of the feeling I get when I hear a song
for the first time and it makes the hair on my arms stand up. I want to help THAT music get
out into the world. And with this label, all artists support each other. We herald each other, we believe in each other. We are nothing without community. This is an alternative, post-rock, noise rock label and I want to continue on that track. More acts are being signed and announced throughout 2021!

The loud and clear roster so far…

BRONSON ARM (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
Newest noise rock duo to join the label.
New single Conscious Confuser out now…


.
DATING MYSELF (Vancouver, BC)
All new 90s hits you’ve never heard.


.
DOWN THE LEES (Vancouver/Ghent)
Caustic, raw and cuts like a knife.
New material coming in 2021.


.
EP ISLAND (Vancouver, BC)
A project that is scheduled as one-weekend events,
bringing in special guests with the goal of writing
and recording as much as possible over 3 days.


.

ERIIS (Ghent, Belgium)
Chaos, strife and discord.


.

HAZE (Ghent, Belgium)
Lo-fi, bedroom rock.


.
NEW YEARS RESOLUTION (Vancouver, BC)
Indie rock.


.
SEPARATION AGREEMENT (Ghent/Vancouver)
Cross continental alternative rock.


.

OFF WHITE HOUSE RECORDS: FacebookWebsiteInstagram

Discover Impassioned Noise Trio DOWN THE LEES’ Steve Albini Recorded Album ‘BURY THE SUN’… Track By Track

1 October 2019

DOWN THE LEES is a red-hot-blooded Belgium based noise rock trio, led by impressive Canadian vox and guitarist Laura Lee Schultz. The band just released their tense and high-strung album, called ‘BURY THE SUN‘ recorded by Chicago‘s legendary noise expert Steve Albini. Here Albini shines because of the perfect way he gives space to Schultz’s voice, the prominent heroine of this striking record, and because of the flawlessly balanced way he surrounded the vocals with the scorching quiet/Loud/quiet power of guitar, bass, and drums. But, again, the poignant force in the middle, is Laura Lee Schultz. She not only wrote all the songs but gave them all a vivid soul and a beating heart with the powerful and arranging assistance of her great band. She will tell you more of all of her babies, right below, Track by Track

Here are the songs

.
Here’s Laura Lee

1. Bury the Sun
“This was the first song that was written for this album, so naturally it comes first. Also, it should be on top of the pile of immediate action. Climate action. It speaks of the climate crisis we are facing and how a lot of people are so blind to it. It makes me so sad and worried for our planet. “When will we wake up?” We may just wake up to nothing.”

2. A Cynical Age
“Have you ever noticed how many school shootings are happening? One is too many. “Amazing Machine, put your hands into the air, only 17”. I like that this upbeat tune turns dark and ominous on a dime. Which is what it must be like to be one of those kids. Going through your school day then all of sudden you “are hiding under tables in the library”.

3. Just a Kid
“When we started on this song, it was a poppy number. Then Kwinten laid his bass magic on it and it is now a stand out track. Imagine never knowing who your father was. Imagine having a mother who kept that information from you. Imagine having to live through a war. And now, imagine never being able to talk about it. “Do you even remember? Now
we all forget his name
.”

4. War Torn
“Another song about war! It’s like there is a theme. And yes, this album has a theme. Death. A song about missing your loved ones who were lost in senseless acts. “I’ll make believe that you are here and not lost like all the daughters.”

5. Penny Straight
“The most energetic song on the album! We love playing this one live. A cheeky number about straight women breaking gay women’s hearts. Awww.”

6. We All Belong On This Surface

“We are in a very interesting and scary time right now. There are many people coming out from under their rocks, belittling and threatening the well-being of others. “God willing they say, killing all whose different” I know it sounds cliche but it’s so true, can’t we all just get along??!!! Ugh.”

7. Antiseptic Heart
“This song is about artists feeling vulnerable and trolls throwing negative, hurtful comments at them. We, as artists, have to have a thick skin, and sometimes, the skin
isn’t thick enough. Forcing them to quit making their art or worse, quit living. There is something inherently wrong with someone who takes pleasure in ripping someone
else’s livelihood apart. “It’s too late to eviscerate the tragically unkind.”

The video for ‘Antiseptic Heart’

8. Please Pain
People like to ridicule. The pleasure pain of being cruel.” Some people
get a kick or a high out of hurting people. I just don’t get that.”

9. Coda
“The album comes to an explosive end, which is how we like to end our shows.”

Thank you Laura Lee.
May the road rise with Down The Lees!

BURY THE SUN is available on Bandcamp

DOWN THE LEES: Facebook 

(promo photo on top via band)