Features, Music, Print September 10, 2020

Girls Just Wanna Own A Label: 17-Year-Old Maddie Hein’s Dream Cult Press Provides a Platform For DIY Musicians

by Valerie Vampola

Maddie Hein loves art, both visual and musical. She was planning to publish a collection of art pieces that would be released alongside a mixtape of songs created by herself and some friends. In a group chat, someone suggested they start a record label and release the collection that way. Then her friend Brock Pierce ordered some 7-inch vinyl, and Dream Cult Press was born.

“I mean, what is stopping us? Why don’t we?” said Hein in a phone interview for BandWagon.

Well, she was 17, but that wasn’t enough, apparently. Nor was the fact that she met those friends in an online group chat and not in her hometown of Greeley (one of them, in fact, was from Kazakhstan). She met the quazi-founders of the concept on an Alex G Discord server. Alex G was notable for being a DIY musician since the beginning of his career in 2010. Hein was obsessed with his music, so she joined the Discord server (a messaging and distribution software for gamers, business and more), where she eventually became friends with Brock from California, Daniel Weaver from Virginia and Sofia Safinova from, yes, Kazakhstan. They released their first album in July 2019 called Dream Compilation 1, containing mostly affiliates of Hein, Pierce, and Weaver. With many contributors across the United States, they’d started picking up fans and followers for themselves and the artists they support in just over a year’s time.

At the end of 2019, Weaver and Pierce flew to Colorado to put on a house concert showcase in Hein’s parent’s basement in Greeley. While planning some collaborations of their own, they also invited other Colorado artists like Jakob Mueller of Slow Caves, April Gloom, Poinciana, and Violet Visionaries to pack Hein’s basement.

“I was wanting to do shows with friends when they came to visit. But the house venues in FoCo weren’t doing shows, so we decided to put one on and invite other bands,” said Hein.

When the Coronavirus quarantine hit, the Dream Cult Press team knew it was time to release another compilation album, this time opening submissions up to the public. They released Bathroom Pop: Summer 2020 in July. 

Like their first release, this compilation album featured tracks by unique artists (ssiigghh, Weird Bug) and while they didn’t plan for a certain theme, what they ended up with was an album full of dreamy sounding psychedelic and indie rock mixed with lo-fi. The best part of the compilation is that fans of one artist can discover other similar artists from different communities. It’s like a Spotify playlist for the little guys on a non-corporate platform which is better for the artists.

“I personally like compilations [albums] because you get different artists. Plus, most people have just one track instead of an entire EP. We can give them an additional platform to release a single leading up to an EP,” said Hein.

Constructing the compilations is a pretty simple task because the songs are sent as finalized recordings. The team sorts through the music to create a track listing, while Hein finalizes/masters the mixes to ensure there are consistent volumes from track to track. Digital copies of their albums are then sold on Bandcamp, along with limited hard copy stock which is available for some of their albums. For their Bathroom Pop: Summer 2020 release, they had 50 purple cassette tapes recorded that quickly sold out.

But Dream Cult Press quickly realized they could do more than just connect indie artists to fans in a cool way. They decided to use their platform to benefit individuals and organizations that were helping out during protests across the country. These included Mission Meals Coalition, House of GG, and personal venmos to individuals delivering food to those affected by riots.

The opening track of Bathroom Pop: Summer 2020 features this reactionary quote: “Is that just how musicians start out, like in the basement?” The answer from the team of Dream Cult Press is yes. If Hein wants to make something happen, then she will manifest her own opportunity, proving that business, philanthropy and rock n’ roll can go global – even when it starts in mom and dad’s basement.

Dream Cult Press plans to release three more compilations in the near future. Check out the dozens of artists on the label, backing them directly as well as the charities they support at dreamcultpress.bandcamp.com