Wolfgang Ryan Zimmerman (front) operates a downtown studio where many of Hearts & Plugs’ releases are recorded.
Attend a concert by any band on the Hearts & Plugs record label (14 acts and counting), and you’ll feel a certain buzz in the air: the energy of a young, vibrant community, eager for fresh, modern sounds. The budding label pulses blood into Charleston’s new class of 20-something musical creatives, and founder Dan McCurry is its beating heart.
What began in 2012 as a vessel to release songs for McCurry’s own band, Run Dan Run, as well as for his close pals, soon grew into a collection of friends helping each other record new work and promote shows. McCurry’s wife, Megan Elger, creates art for albums, posters, and more, while McCurry helps write bios, submits tracks to streaming services like Spotify, and handles media relations. “I’m looking for music that has some form of pop sensibility,” says McCurry. “The songs released by Hearts & Plugs need to have an occasional hook—they can’t be completely abstract or really hard to identify with.”
The label held a residency at Redux this spring, with groups like Elim Bolt and ET Anderson forming double bills of country crooning and avant-garde funk for a young, enthusiastic audience. As the bands acknowledge McCurry from the stage, it’s evident that they all feel Hearts & Plugs has the potential to help convey them to a broader audience. “We’ve built a reputation—it’s hard to create trust and ‘the cool factor,’” he offers. “There are other labels with more money, but these bands want to be on Hearts & Plugs because they want to be part of what we’re doing. ‘Cool’ doesn’t pay all the bills yet, but our first goal is to create culture.”
Hearts & Plugs has produced 14 albums—plus one ”split”—to date, including the following spring 2015 releases
➼ Hermit’s Victory put out a self-titled debut LP in April. ”Tyler Bertges, the hermit of HV, is a poetic genius who makes really smart indie pop,” says label founder Dan McCurry.
➼ Mr. Jenkins’ greatest hits LP, First, Last, Best, ”pays tribute to the near decade-long run Nic Jenkins had producing experimental pop as ‘Mr. Jenkins,‘ before he adopted a new moniker, Infinitikiss, this year,” McCurry explains.
➼ Johnny Delaware & SUSTO were paired on seven-inch vinyl, with two songs each from the singer-songwriter and the alternative folk band (which includes Justin Osborne, Gordon Keiter, Matt Lohan, and Corey Campbell). McCurry notes, ”It was a good way to get a little something out there before putting out, say, the next EP or LP.”
Catch these artists and more at Hearts & Plugs’ July 18th Summer Shindig at Palmetto Brewery. Find details at www.heartsandplugs.com.
Check out a few of Hearts & Plugs' artists: