INTERVIEW: Totally Real Records – A Dive Into a DIY Label Mindset

I had a chance to talk with BB of Totally Real Records, an independent record label based out of New York. With a myriad of releases under their belt, the label is helping out artists in the DIY community in numerous ways. Feel free to check out their Bandcamp here or check out their website at

  • So introduce me to Totally Real Records. How did it start, who was your first artist, what’s the origin story? What made you want to start the label? 
    • A few years ago, I had a couple different friends who were working on great music but hadn’t figured out how to go about releasing it, so I thought I’d start a label to help them out. I came up with the name, got some social media accounts, and proceeded to NOT start the label. In mid-2019, when my own band Mount Sharp was preparing to release our first single in a few years, I decided to use that label name I’d created just so it said something on the streaming sites other than an auto-generated Distrokid label name, so I put Totally Real Records in the label field, and that single was technically our first release, even though I never had thoughts of starting a label to put out my own music at all. A year later, my friends Superorder wanted some help putting out a new single, so I said “Let’s use the fake label name I used for my band” and then they just decided that their record would also be coming out on the label, so I like to say that they tricked me into releasing their record, but I love them so it’s ok. Plus, look what it started!


  • How has Totally Real propelled itself into the DIY community upon creation? With the influx of independent labels that seem to pop up more and more, how has Totally Real provided for its artists?
    • Pretty much all of the label’s existence has been during the pandemic, so it’s been weird having it be an entirely online thing, since my own background is firmly rooted in the Brooklyn live music scene – but that said, the DIY community on Twitter and other corners of the internet has been super supportive and welcoming, and we try to do our part by supporting other artists and labels and helping them to promote what they’ve got going on. For my artists, I put a lot of work into collaborating with them in different ways, and try to make it as easy as possible for them to make their releases a reality. Depending on the artist, the relationship can be anywhere from just doing digital distribution for a record they sent me to helping with every aspect of their career and helping to make decisions about music – I might even have played a bunch of guitar for an upcoming release from one of my artists.


  • Leading into the label itself, the most recent (TTR020) Jane Migraine tape has recently come out, and you mentioned that they were the first artist you collaborated with that was outside the pre-existing community you worked within. How did you go about contacting them; what was the major decision in moving forward with a non-regional artist?
    • Yes! I love that tape. Jane Migraine writes so many great songs, I wish I could do even more to get people to hear her stuff.  I found her on Bandcamp one day when she had uploaded an album and I was just poking around new releases for stuff to play on the music podcast I did for my last job. I fell in love with the music and very awkwardly asked if she had a label or maybe wanted to work with one. Before that I’d only dealt with Superorder, Ilithios, Weekend Lovers, and The New Restaurants, all of whom include longtime friends of mine from the music scene, so reaching out to somebody totally new and figuring out how to talk about what I was doing with the label was pretty alien to me. Luckily she was into it.


  • What do you have coming up for Totally Real in the future? Biting at the bullet to release things is definitely difficult, but it seems there’s a lot coming up for the label in the future.
    • As of writing this, the Astronauto tape, Liminal Spaces, is coming out tomorrow (10/1/21). He’s a total master of live looping multiple instruments in his solo live shows – this is his fourth record and the first time involving a full band and so many (8!) collaborators and I’m psyched to be involved with it. Another huge one for us is the Votives LP from Old Man Of The Woods. She was another artist I reached out to after finding her music on the internet, and she’s become one of the real focuses of the roster, where I’m very involved in working with her: brainstorming creative ideas, giving feedback, getting records pressed, etc, probably moreso than anybody else on the label. This record is incredible, absolutely one of my favorite releases this year from anybody (not just on the label) and I really can’t wait for the world to hear the whole thing. She’s also super prolific and has such a great career ahead of her. Besides those two, before the year is out there will also be a tribute EP (on CD) to one of my favorite artists, a split from We Are Joiners and Hark, and a co-release of Snake Lips’ Melt The Sun that I’m helping my good friends at Repeating Cloud to put out.  We’re also still very much in the album promotion zone for the new Nihiloceros EP, Self Destroy, which just came out. Those guys are incredible- a killer live band and some of the hardest working, sweetest, most supportive musicians I know.


  • What have been some of your favorite releases this year – major releases, local, your own?
    • Of course all the stuff we put out (the J.T. Boogaard and The Laughing Hearts tapes were both brilliant but sort of criminally overlooked so maybe give those a listen if you didn’t)… I really like the Sun June record, and Landlady’s record is a bit of a sleeper classic I think. Chad Van Gaalen’s World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener is another perfectly beautiful and strange one from him. The new Calicoco just came out from Dadstache and it’s something way more people need to be listening to and talking about.


  • What’s the last statement you’d like to make here in the Q&A? Your big promotion, what we need to watch for in the imminent future.
    • Thank you for the questions and having me do this! Check out the upcoming and recent releases from Totally Real Records, especially that Old Man Of The Woods vinyl that’s coming up!

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