Aedric Donovan (left) and Hendrix Gullixson eventually joined forces after graduating from Mount Horeb High School.
Hendrix Gullixson and Aedric Donovan are excited. Vesten Records, their digital music label, has signed the dreamy up-and-coming Madison pop act Dash Hounds.
Donovan and Gullixson, who launched the label in May 2016, have a history, but the two weren’t always on friendly terms.
“We’ve known each other since early high school, but at that time we actually didn’t like each other,” Gullixson says with a laugh. “It wasn’t until later that we had both grown up enough to show each other respect.”
After graduating from Mount Horeb High School, the two eventually found common ground in their artistic pursuits. When Gullixson contacted Donovan to commission album art, the conversation quickly evolved, and they decided to create a record label.
“We saw a kind of all-or-nothing system,” Donovan says, “where you’re either scraping pennies or you’re a giant star. We looked at that as a problem, and asked, ‘How can we support those artists in between?’”
That support takes the form of one-stop digital distribution — via Spotify, iTunes, and other digital platforms. It also means helping artists connect with producers and a growing network of artists to create high-quality products. “Our relationships with our artists are very personal, and each is very specific,” Gullixson says.
Latest get: Madison pop act Dash Hounds.
“We see it as an investment in the artist,” Donovan adds, “so we cover the upfront costs for distribution.”
Gullixson and Donovan both bring personal experience to their work. Donovan, a part- time web designer, primarily handles the copywriting, design and marketing aspects of the business. Gullixson, a musician, handles talent development and communications with clients.
Today Vesten Records mostly represents electronic artists, partially due to Gullixson’s work in that sphere (he performs as Holven Fora). Early signees include ambient and chillwave acts from Madison and across the Midwest: NØÅ, Professor Daytime, Seafarer and Shikimo.
Donovan says Vesten Records wants to diversify both the artists and genres it represents. In addition to Dash Hounds, the roster includes Sheep Decoy, an experimental acoustic artist based in Madison, and rapper Shaman B-D out of Minneapolis.
Alivia Kleinfeldt, vocalist and guitarist for Dash Hounds, says the band appreciates the label’s aesthetic and is pleased to have the support of a label. “It’s as positive as I’ve ever seen from an artist standpoint,” says Kleinfeldt.
The label currently runs out of the founders’ homes, but Donovan and Gullixson hope to have an office and recording space soon. “We’ll need it to start working with larger bands, people struggling to find practice space and studio space,” says Donovan. “We’d really like to have something where musicians can escape to...where they can relax and do their thing.”