Steve Aoki had already made a name for himself in underground circles with his Los Angeles-based Dim Mak label by the time he and Pretty Girls Make Graves bassist Derek Fudesco cofounded Cold Crush Records last summer. In 2000 Dim Mak released Kill Sadie's Experiments in Expectation before guitarist Jay Clark joined Pretty Girls, and it was Dim Mak who put out PGMG's self-titled EP. After Fudesco saw Hint Hint's first public show at the 2002 Capitol Hill Block Party, he went to Aoki to discuss starting a label, with Hint Hint providing the first release. Sex Is Everything came out at the beginning of 2003, followed by a disc featuring previously unreleased tracks from the Hookers, the band that eventually became the Murder City Devils. A pink vinyl 12-inch from Aoki's pick Gravy Train!!!! came out in April, and Cobra High's Sunset in the Eye of the Hurricane came out last week.
Fudesco has a lot to offer a band that decides to sign on with his label: Besides the fact that Pretty Girls Make Graves have been mentioned numerous times in several national publications, they are now signed to Matador Records and Fudesco plans to take Cold Crush artists on tour with them. He cheerleads harder than just about anyone else I've ever met, telling every journalist he speaks to about local bands he likes. "I won't work with a band I don't want to shove in the face of everyone I talk to," says Fudesco, and I know he means it. Before I even got my menu open when we met for lunch last week, he'd cued up his iPod so I could hear a track from the Anna Oxygen album coming out on Cold Crush in July. By the time lunch was cleared away, I'd heard several songs and what he calls "the most awesome chorus on any record ever." He has reason to be so excited about the release--it's a stunningly full and accomplished-sounding record for a debut from a one-woman band, and it'll appeal to anyone who ever liked Erasure, Yaz, or OMD.
Fudesco and Aoki think of the inventive postpunk bands on Cold Crush as family, and offer a 50-50 profit split for each record. "I love where indie music is going now," Aoki says. "There's a stronger sense of community, and I think the public wants that too. They don't just want a business--they want to feel the love the label has for its bands. Cold Crush started quickly, and already the bands are really tight with each other. With that feeling in mind, I'm really confident in the label. The support is already there, and that's really all you need."