Texas-based label Tofu Carnage came into existence in 2010. Conceived by Dead to a Dying World guitarist Sean Mehl, Tofu Carnage slowly evolved from a label meant to release Dead to a Dying World’s self-titled record to its current state. Decibel caught up with Mehl to talk about the past, present and future of Tofu Carnage.
Leading with the question that’s on everyone’s (just mine?) mind. Where does the name Tofu Carnage come from?
Tofu Carnage was a funny name that just stuck in my head. I was vegan at the time, currently vegetarian, and thought it was a funny moral consciousness paired with the false notion that heavy music is inherently violent or aggressive. I guess you could say the name represents a funny paradox of sorts, but I don’t pretend that there is much of a meaning behind it – ha!
You started Tofu Carnage in 2010, according to Facebook. What made you want to start a record label, and why was 2010—in a time when music sales were looking bleak to many—the right time to launch a brand new label?
Tofu Carnage initially served only as a means to release the first Dead To A Dying World record. I never anticipated I would still be doing it today, but it became a very rewarding creative outlet. Sure, music sales were down at the time of inception, but I will always hold the music and art as the primary intent and focus of the label. I think in many ways that is what the music industry fails to do. Although the label has certainly grown to encompass a variety of Texas bands, each group is tied together through shared members or other relations.
What is the biggest challenge of running a record label?
Definitely the time and energy commitment. Things can get spread pretty thin between working a full-time job, being an active touring musician, having a family, and running a label. I pretty much take each release as they come and often think this will be the year I have to step back or stop altogether, but I just keep going. It is always challenging, but so is the addiction and voice in my head pushing me to keep with it.
Conversely, what is the biggest reward?
The biggest reward has hands-down been the relationships built and friends made throughout the entire process. I consider myself creatively connected to these musicians, and I consider them my friends and peers. I often think back to the first Dead To A Dying World release and how all I wanted was to hold something in my hand that I knew I put everything into – something that I could be proud of no matter how many people loved or hated it. I think about that every time I work on a new release. This music, this work of art means everything to someone, and I am forever grateful to be a part in realizing that.
You’ve run a label for a number of years now- how have you seen the music industry change? Do you feel the role of a record label is changing in 2017?
The role of a record label has certainly changed tremendously. In many ways, there isn’t a real reason for record labels to exist anymore, so I think it’s important to keep a purpose in what I am doing as a label. I like to keep things small and focused so I don’t risk losing that integrity. I think it helps to have friends who all make killer music!
Do you have a favorite release or proudest moment for Tofu Carnage since you began the label?
Honestly every release is a proud moment for me personally. I could list a few that come to mind immediately, but they all carry very significant meaning in different ways. Some of them are bands I looked up to and hold a lot of creative and musical significance to me, such as Akkolyte, Ecocide, and Sans Soleil. Others were bands and projects I was exposed to through local communities as I became a more active in the music communities.
What are your goals for the future?
The future is always uncertain. I don’t like to think too far ahead of what is immediately on my table. Any year could be when I pull back and take more time for myself and family, or it could end up being the busiest year yet. There will always opportunities that present themselves that are too good to resist!