PorchFire Records was founded on a whim, with a vague desire to do something cool, but without a concrete plan. In September of 2017, co-founder Ally Brown pitched an idea that has lead to a video series, small following in Austin’s music scene and managing up-and-coming artist TC Superstar.
Story by Angela Schiff
Photos by Taylor Hall
“I was getting into the DIY punk scene in Washington… and Minor Threat specifically did everything themselves… so I was like ‘I want to do that, I think I can do that,’ ” Brown says.
She reached out to local artist Connor McCampbell, the brain behind the synth pop band TC Superstar. They began to brainstorm the ideas for their undeveloped record label, and found a crew that would help them out.
Three members of the main crew includes Roman Parnell, Caden Westmoreland and Skyler Frost. All are college juniors and knew Brown prior to the birth of the PorchFire. They all knew Brown personally and when she asked if they wanted to get involved, each person enthusiastically agreed.
But there was still a major question to be answered.
“We were like, ‘What does a record label do?,’” Parnell recounted. “We decided it would be cool if it were a medium where you can watch and see bands.”
Rather than just being a business entity that managed artists, PorchFire decided to also host events for bands to play live sessions and have their performances recorded. Thus, they started shooting their “Back Porch ATX” video series under the PorchFire label.
The series was shot in the backyard of the home shared by several key members of PorchFire and soon became a critical component of the label’s identity. Currently, PorchFire is releasing their second video series entitled “The Transient Sessions.” The videos still have the same DIY-y feel, but with drastically better quality.
“We’re building something from the ground up. Our videos keep getting better and better,” Porchfire’s director of videography, Skylar Frost says.
Despite their achievements, the up and coming record label still has many obstacles, especially regarding resources.
“The people that are involved are all kids. Because they’re all college students, it’s a volunteer thing,” Westmoreland explained.
PorchFire is not yet registered as a business; it’s a passion project.The crew that has sacrificed their time, money and resources to produce content and support the bands that they work with. “We’re usually pretty broke,” Frost says. “ Money is hard. We have all of our own equipment and if we rent something we do it out of our own pocket. We threw a show with three bands and built the stages ourselves. It’s a matter of trying to scale up with no money.”
Though it can be difficult to maintain, Brown is optimistic that PorchFire can expand.
“Things are finally beginning to settle now, and we’re finding a rhythm,” she adds. “You have to do a little but of it everyday. As long as I put a little bit everyday I’m alright.”
After the conversations, one concern remains. What happens when everyone graduates? The core members of the group are juniors in college and seem unsure of where they’ll be post-graduation. “The future is a question we all need to address,” Brown said. “Once you get out of college it changes things for a lot of people.”
Brown like the rest of the team are looking forward to the future, hoping to make Porchfire a viable business one day.Despite their uncertain future, PorchFire serves as a testament to the tenacity, creativity and hard work of a group dedicated to helping young bands. They have a direct impact on Austin’s local music scene, and challenge traditional definitions of what a record label can do.
“Nowadays a record label in the traditional sense is becoming less and less like a record label used to be,” Parnell says. “They’re taking on all sorts of different forms and roles.”
If you’d like to check out PorchFire’s work, watch this great performance by indigohoney that the team produced! They’re also on Instagram and Facebook if you want to give them some social media love.