Know Hope Records is an independent record label based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Started in 2015 by friends Shawn Dorsey and JD Perry, the label has released records from Post Season, Rich People, Sleep In., twentythreenineteen, and more. With upcoming releases, curating events, and Rich People going on tour with Grayscale soon, there is a lot happening and more announcements coming soon!

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All questions were answered by Shawn Dorsey.

Q: With a wide-ranging music taste, what bands and artists sparked your interest in music in general?

A: Looking back I can pinpoint different times and experiences that sparked my interest in different ways or had different effects on me. I have a sister who is ten years older than me and she was in high school/college in the early 90s. I was still young but through her I got into bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, etc. When I discovered bands like Green Day and Blink-182 that was a game changer for me. I remember discovering a lot of bands via compilations like the Punk-O-Rama releases or sharing CDs with friends and what not. When I was in high school I discovered Saves The Day and they opened me up to an even wider range of bands.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the formation of Know Hope Records?

A: KHR officially formed in late 2015 but it really started to form as an idea in my head a few years earlier. I was in a job that I hated and had a desire to get back into music, but I had no desire to really be in a band and/or tour again. I was fortunate enough to be able to help on a few independent releases of friends’ bands, and those experiences sort of pushed me towards the idea of starting a label. Late in 2015 my friend JD Perry, who was my partner in starting the label, and I had lunch together and were just catching up. I told him that I was thinking about starting a label, and at the he was starting to make plans for his first solo release…we decided to team up and start the label together, and that’s how it all started.

Q: Since your label’s emergence in 2015, have you learned anything that you wish you would have known then? Is there anything you would have done differently?

A: The easy answer is yes, I would certainly do some things differently…mostly in how we marketed early on. I think that when we started out both JD and I were adjusting to some of the things that were changing in the industry especially compared to how things were when we were active in previous projects as artists, and marketing is one of the things that was evolving in the ever changing landscape of the music industry. However, if we didn’t experience some of the things that we experienced early on we might not have learned some valuable lessons.

Q: Were there bands that you knew you wanted to work with from the beginning?

A: Yes. As I stated before we knew that we were going to release JD’s solo project, selfhelpme, when we started off. We had both worked with Mosey on their LP, The Way We Remember It, and when we started the label we knew that we wanted to re-release that record, specifically on vinyl. Shane Henderson came into the mix right away when we started off, as well, and we started working on a new Promise of Redemption record that became our second release.

Given JD’s time with Valencia and the amount of solo projects and bands that have come from Valencia’s members we immediately had a stable of artists to work with when started off.

Q: Do you have any story that has stuck with you from working with any of the bands signed to Know Hope Records? If so, please elaborate.

A: In the spring of 2017 JD and I both attended the Launch Music Conference in Lancaster, PA. We went to a few panel discussions and that night JD was playing an event that was part of the conference and I was selling his merch. Ben Roth and Kory Gable, both of Sleepy Limbs, came to the show that night. They co-own The Kaleidoscope recording studio in Lancaster…they didn’t really want to go to the conference, but being in music they figured they should probably go to this conference that was in their town. Kory and I had toured together probably ten years prior to this, and Ben was previously in a band called The High Court that was on the same label as Valencia probably around ten years prior as well. We all ended up hanging out that night and their studio, and they played us some songs from their new band, Sleepy Limbs. We ended up signing Sleepy Limbs not long after that and KHR has been working with them ever since.

Another one that comes to mind is more recent. We get a lot of email submissions these days. I listen to every single submission that we get, but sometimes it can take a while to make the time to sit down and listen. Sean McCall of twentythreenineteen initially messaged me via the contact page on our e-store…when I opened the email I assumed that it was an issue with an order, but he was actually reaching out about his new project. He initially sent me just the one song that they had release, “Losing Touch.” I was really into it and asked him to send me some more stuff…he ended up sending me 24 songs and I was completely blown away.

Q: Is there one album (or a couple albums) that you have released on the label that you have the strongest connection with for any reason? If so, please explain.

A: Hmm that’s a tough one. I definitely have a strong connection with all of our artists and all of the records that we’ve been lucky enough to work on. To give a few specifics though…

We have a release coming out this fall (it will be announced in a few weeks) that is with an artist that I grew up listening to and admiring. This artist approached us about working together, which was something really, really special to me, so I have a strong connection with that release. Another one would probably be the Post Season self-titled record…we spent about a year working with the band on that record, so a lot of time and energy went into it and I’m really proud of that one. Post Season’s manager, Ryan Wapner, and I worked really closely together on that release as well. Not too long after its release, my business partner JD decided to leave the label to explore other opportunities, and at that point Ryan ended up joining our KHR team.

Q: Rich People will be going out on tour with Grayscale on their ‘Nella Vita North American Tour’. How proud of them are you?

A: We’re super stoked for Rich People! Our whole team is really proud of them. They’re such great people and they’re such a hard working band. That tour is going to be great and I am excited for new ears to get to hear this band.

Q: What are some other things going on with bands on the label currently that you are excited about?

A: We will be announcing our next two releases very shortly, so we’re really excited about that. We have releases from Mas Malo and Sweet Pill coming later this year which we’re stoked about, both of those bands are amazing. We will also be curating a few events as part of an event called B.PHL that is happening in Philadelphia this fall. Those events will be announced shortly, but we’ve partnered with some great venues and other businesses and we’ll have both KHR and non-KHR affiliated artists as part of that. Sleep In and twentythreenineteen are heading out on tour together next month. There’s a lot of great stuff happening here!

Q: Do you have any advice for new bands? What about for those of us (like me) dreaming to have a career in the business side of the music industry?

A: For new bands…my advice would simply be to keep working hard and doing your thing. Don’t worry about managers, booking agents, labels, etc. If you put the work in people will notice and those things will come when the time is right. People love to talk about how much things have changed in this industry, and it’s true, things have changed immensely over the years. However, getting out on the road and playing to whoever will listen and putting the time in, that used to be the only one to do it and that’s still the best way to go about it today.

For people dreaming of a career on the business side of the industry…being a part of your local music community is probably the best way. Help book shows, blog about or photograph bands, etc. Being a part of a community is definitely the best way, in my opinion. The other thing is to look for internships in different aspects of the industry, whether it’s a label, booking agency, whatever.

Q: What are your short-term and long-term goals for Know Hope Records?

A: In the short term we just want to keep growing organically and continue to expose more people to our artists. We put out some great records by some great bands and in the short term we just want to continue to expose more people to our artists. With regards to long-terms goals, I think that we want to continue to expand what we as a label can do for our artists…as an independent label in 2019 and beyond I think that you have to be able to do more for an artist than simply what the perception of a label’s job was in the past, if that make sense. Long-term we want to be able to offer more for artists in whatever area they might need.