When I feel like giving up on life, I think of a handful of people and Jesse Hlebo of Swill Children is one of them. Jesse takes the hard road, never cuts corners, and sees things through to the end every time. This and his massive talent as an artist and designer keep me collecting all his releases. Swill Children is an independent record label/book publishing company from Brooklyn NY that has released music by Lucky Dragons, Guardian Alien, W-H-I-T-E, Nü Sensae and Okie Dokie among others. They’ve also published books by Grant Willing, Bryan Kruger, Ryan Foerster and Taraka Larson. All the books and Vinyl are printed in house on a Risograph (high-speed digital printing system).
1. Some music released on Swill Children:
Lucky Dragons – Existers (Matthew David remix) (right click/save as)
Nü Sensae – New Lies (right click/save as)
Guardian Alien – EP track1 (right click/save as)
Okie Dokie – UV DUST (right click/save as)
W-H-I-T-E – Fountain (Lucky Dragons-remix) (right click/save as)
White Fold – End of Now (right click/save as)
2. Pdf version of the first book published by Swill Children: Jesse Hlebo & Hannah Racecar – I Tried To Take A Picture Of The Moon Because It Was So Big or The Math Drinkers (right click/save as)
Jesse Hlebo and Hannah Racecar collaborated on a zine in which they took pictures and wrote poems once a day for six days, leaving up to chance the content that was to be produced. The result is a brief glimpse at lives full of frustration and loneliness.
3. Go spend some valuable time on Swill Children’s website.
The swill children projects suggest a narrative but there not linked together are they? How far ahead do you plan?Do you have an arc in mind for Swill Children?
There is an arc for Swill Children but it’s more spontaneous than engineered for a particular future. I never know what will happen next month or next year. I try and respond to what came before and keep moving forward.
Each release references sorrow or jubilance in a manner that converses with the last. I sort of viewed this last batch of releases as a unit, though they are very distinct from one another. I haven’t done that before.
Can you tell me a bit about your relationship with NYC?
I’ve never been to a place that was as inclusive as NYC. The time in which it took me to get involved with the music scene was not only quicker than any other place I’d lived, but was far more passionate and heartfelt.
It’s the first place I’ve lived for more than a year since I was 17 but has yet to become dull in any way. Not that things are ‘comfortable’, things just fit.
I don’t know if I could live anywhere else.
Who is Jesse Hlebo?
I spend a large part of my day trying to figure out this question. I’m not sure if I’ll ever know.
On your website you have the Sopa Petition pop up. What’s the deal?
SOPA (Stop Online Privacy Act) is an act that the USA government has been attempting to pass that would, in short, introduce a very highly controlled haze over the internet that doesn’t currently exist on such a massive scale. It is an outright attempt at censorship and authoritarian control. I’m really glad the internet has continued to be as ‘wild-west’ as it has for so long and think it should stay free for as long as possible.
What images do you come back to again and again?
Maurice Ronet looking into a mirror before committing suicide in The Fire Within, directed by Louis Malle. The fire and crickets scene from Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven. Gordan Matta-Clark’s documentation of Splitting: Four Corners. The elephant-trampling scene in David Lynch’s The Elephant Man. Tauba Auerbach‘s Static photographs of television static. The first time I saw Richard Tuttle‘s work at MoCA in Los Angeles. Fireworks exploding in a panorama around me while laying on my roof in Brooklyn. Childhood best friend rolling over a brick and cutting open leg, blood seeping through his pants and dripping on ground while running. Skateboarding in Union Station in Los Angeles while drunk, falling on my face, bleeding everywhere, and peeing in a urinal while blood dripped into the water. And running on gravel between trains in Klamath Falls at 4am while being chased by a railroad officer.
What projects are coming up?
Paperweight -a primarily online-based organization dedicated to furthering a dialogue on independent publishing- is about to launch on Thursday the 12th of July. We’re participating in Brooklyn Shelf Life, a year long project with a total of 48 publications. New releases in the coming months from _ Quarterly, Andrew Laumann + Jesse Hlebo, Peter Sutherland. We’re participating in Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair at the end of September as well as the Sculpture Center block party at the beginning of September.