Esque Records began as a joking daydream and has been brought to life by Kurt and Lauren Travis. Esque currently has seven artists signed and no two of them sound the same. With genres from math rock, hip hop, acoustic indie and almost everything in between represented, Esque does an excellent job at exemplifying what it means to represent variety in a label. While you probably know Kurt from his solo act, Dance Gavin Dance, or A Lot Like Birds, you might not know too much of his superhero of a wife. From being a label “mom,” genuine friend, and overall badass, Lauren is awfully inspiring. She’s shared with Teal Cheese information of her as a person, her role for Esque, their artists, and goals for the label.
Ary: Can you tell me about music’s role in your life and how it has changed throughout the years?
Lauren: Music has always been a huge part of my life; from going to shows with my friends at local small venues, to playing guitar in my church’s band, to starting bands with my friends. My mom always loved great music. She gave me tons of old records from the 70’s and 80’s and I hung them up on my wall when I was a kid. My father has been a sound engineer nearly his whole adult life, and he taught me how to work 32 channel boards. He even let me do sound for Neil Young and his wife, Pegi, once. Now, I’m experiencing a whole new spectrum of the music industry being able to play with Kurt every now and again, as well as run Esque. It’s incredible how many aspects there are of music and this industry.
Ary: Has starting your own record label always been something of interest? What was your main motivation on pursuing it?
Lauren: I honestly had never thought about starting a label until very recently. I was always interested in being involved in music; like playing or doing front of house or something along those lines. The main motivation for starting this label was being on the road with Kurt and seeing so much talent in the cities we would play in. Together, we would see so many incredible acts play on the same bill as us, and we wanted to somehow get their name out there so more people could fall in love with them. I think it kind of jokingly started when we first heard Hail The Sun play before Kurt at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, California. Kurt and I were standing in the merch area and they started their set. We immediately were drawn to their sound and asked “who IS this band?” and started watching from the back of the audience. Not only were we impressed with their overall sound, but also the fact that the drummer was the singer and he was doing both very well. We jokingly said we should start our own management company or label to work with them. Here we are 5 years later with our own label!
Ary: Esque Records couldn’t be a more fitting name for the label. How did you decide on it? Were there any other possible candidates?
Lauren: Kurt actually thought of the name for it! It is a French suffix, and Kurt and I both have a love for the “Romance Languages,” so it just seemed so fitting, like you said. There really weren’t any other candidates. Esque was the first name we discussed and we both loved it so much that we went with it, and I immediately started trying to create a logo!
Ary: What are some of your main responsibilities as the person in charge of public relations and media contact for Esque? How might they differ from working on any other label?
Lauren: I have quite a few responsibilities at the label. I run and maintain the website, webstore, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and emails. I interact with our artists in order to coordinate releases, merchandise bundles, and even things like little teaser clips. The list goes on! Don’t get me wrong, though, I love it. I am passionate about graphic and web design as well as developing relationships with other industry professionals and fans alike. I think my responsibilities could differ from other labels because I have so many, being as it is just Kurt and myself. I think usually these duties would be more evenly distributed amongst employees. Since we are currently small scale, it hasn’t been too much for me to handle thus far on top of work and school.
Ary: What do you feel has been the biggest success to date for Esque?
Lauren: I would say our biggest success to date is just being received as well as we have. We had always hoped from day one to have a considerable amount of success, but I’m not sure we quite expected it to happen (and so quickly!). Specifically, an awesome success we have had was having over 41,000 plays on Spotify alone just in the last month. We just love what we do, and are so grateful that we have so many people who support our artists and us and want us all to succeed. It feels really humbling to know that we have people out there who believe in this as much as we do. It’s incredible.
Ary: Where do you see the label 5 years from now?
Lauren: Man. In five years, I see us having our own office that Kurt and I can go to every day to work…maybe having a few interns if we have the space and whatnot. I want to be able to constantly expand and fine-tune our company. I want to be able to grow with our bands and support them and get them the exposure they all deserve. I would love for this to be my main career!
Ary: How would you define the overall sound of Esque?
Lauren: I can’t say that I can pinpoint one specific sound, and I love that. I think it’s awesome that we can work with such different sounding bands and artists. They are all so talented and give you a taste of something different. Our goal is to have something for everyone to be excited by and hyped about.
Ary: How do you go about finding bands you’re interested in bringing on the team? Have there been any signings based off demo submissions yet?
Lauren: Honestly, most of it comes from firsthand experiences, like I mentioned. Bands like Rome Hero Foxes and Amarionette have played on the same bill with Kurt in the past, and we were just very impressed with their sound and presence. Other bands, like In Angles, were recommended to us. In this case, the boys in Adventurer told us about them. While we haven’t signed anyone based off of a submission just yet, we have definitely heard some really great stuff. There are some pretty talented people in this world, and it is honestly so overwhelming, in the best way possible, to have all of these artists and bands want to be a part of the Esque family!
Ary: You’ve got artists signed from California to New Jersey. Considering the distance, could we ever expect a show like the equivalent of Night of The Blue Swan or even a tour?
Lauren: We do! Night of the Blue Swan was such an awesome experience, and I know everyone really enjoyed it. We definitely want to do something like that in the future, just because it would be so much fun. No current plans for one, but we have discussed it on multiple occasions.
Ary: Does Esque Records have a mission statement? If not, what would it be?
Lauren: We currently don’t have any sort of mission statement, but if we did it would have something to do with how we want all of our artists to feel like they have their own total creative freedom, and have a sense of belonging to a family. We love all of our artists, and once they’re a part of our team, they become a part of our family.
Esque Records is guaranteed to make waves in the music industry. For only starting up a little under a year ago, the label doesn’t show signs of losing momentum any time soon. Their newest signing, Amarionette, will be releasing their first single off their upcoming LP June 17th. Esque’s latest release, Cascading Home by In Angles, is available now for purchase and stream. Follow Esque Records to keep up to date on what’s good!
Here’s a little Esque sampler. Also, Lemix J. Buckley isn’t avaliable on Spotify but you can check them out here!