Cameron Soojian was born in Red Bank, NJ. He moved to Minneapolis when he was four, when his Dad got a new job here.
Soojian got interested in music in elementary school because neighbor friends had guitars and his Dad had an old acoustic guitar, which he started to mess around with and play.
Then he graduated to Electric guitar and started taking lessons. After that he just kept learning on his own. Playing guitar is what he likes to do the most, but after trying to find a label to put out his music, he started Lawnchair Records.
Soojian was kind enough to answer questions about the label and the next steps for music formats. RIFT: When and Why Did You Start The Label?
CAMERON: I started the label in Oct 2014. I was having trouble getting labels interested in my music, and I had other friends that were frustrated. In retrospect, my songs were half-baked at best, so I don’t blame anyone for turning down my largely unfinished ideas.
Throughout the process I realized that I could just do it myself, and then when I was up at my buddy Gavin’s cabin, I decided actually to do it. We brainstormed names and partied for an entire weekend, and everyone agreed a summery slacker theme was a good thing to shoot for. We came up with plenty of in the names, but in the end, Lawn Chair was what we thought was cool at the time. The idea was to get to a name that didn’t flat-out suck to everyone because it’s the music that makes the name special regarding bands and labels.
RIFT: What Local Bands are on your label, and any upcoming releases from local bands?
CAMERON: Tongue Party, Ripper, El Greco Explosive, Teenage Stranger, and Henry James Patterson.
Ripper A.D.’s second tape just came out with a great Triple Rock show with Deleter, Murder Shoes and Cherry Cola
RIFT: How do you find bands to release.
CAMERON: Well, sometimes I just hit people up randomly on Bandcamp, and I also ask people I know or have played with. However, the biggest thing I’ve learned it that it makes no sense to release artists that don’t play out a lot. This is particularly true in the case of relatively unknown artists that are just starting out.
Over the last two years, I’ve gone to San Francisco twice for what I now consider to be musical pilgrimages. As I was just getting into DIY music, Burger Records was my favorite label. I was so into it that I decided to go to their summer festival in Oakland in 2014. I flew out there alone and stayed at a friend’s that didn’t end up coming with me to the concert or the house shows beforehand, so I was on my own.
It ended up being great, and I met a lot of Gnar and burger family members, 2 of which became friends that I ended up releasing (Emotional and Love Cop). Technically Love Cop and I didn’t meet in Oakland, but I met them through Brian from Emotional and Instagram.
RIFT: You release some vinyl, but mostly cassettes. What do you think the future is for music formats?
CAMERON: I’m not sure, but I don’t think physical mediums will go away anytime soon, it’s just too fun to collect and own your music. I don’t think audiophiles are going to give that up; we just have to get to the point as a society where we realize that just because something is digital, doesn’t mean it is automatically superior to something analog.
Just because something is new, doesn’t mean it is the best version that ever existed. In some ways, recordings and music are the “clearest” they’ve ever been, but in the midst of that, the character and flavor of imperfection is lost.
RIFT: What do you think of the Twin Cities music scene?
CAMERON: I’m in love with it. Everyone has been so kind to me, and I’ve found nothing but opportunities to play and be included since I moved back here from DC in 2014. I think everyone here really cares about music, and a lot of people take it for granted because they haven’t lived other places long enough to gain perspective.
I have a lot of friends that romanticize about moving away because they think there is some answer out there for them musically. I would say there are certainly other scenes that are great, larger and maybe “better” for different types of artists. However, one thing I know about the Twin Cities is that you can do it from here, and you have all the resources you need to be successful. Hell, if the Replacements managed to find success, I don’t see why any band can’t.
RIFT: What are the long term plans for the label?
CAMERON: Long term plan is just to keep releasing tapes when I have the money to do it. I’m interested in releasing some different types of bands and music too. I don’t plan on doing vinyl again yet, but I know I will eventually.
The label exists to support the DIY philosophy and ethos, as long as the music is released, it’s still accomplishing that, and that’s all I want to do. I’d like to do more split releases too.
I like making friends with other labels and being introduced to new artists, and that seems to happen with split releases, which is cool. I need to make new buttons, probably more merch, in general, would be a good thing, but I work full time, so I attend to the label in my free-time.
RIFT: If you could give a piece of advice about anything, what would it be?
CAMERON: I would say to anyone who makes music or wants to start a label or release music or record or whatever, just do it with whatever tools you have and don’t think about anything past that because it’s better to do that than sit around waiting for things to work out.
Also, if you want to play shows, go to shows and be part of the scene because people are cool, and you can play, you just have to reach out and take initiative and let people know you exist. Otherwise, they have no idea you exist, so you can’t blame them for not magically finding your Bandcamp and sending you an email.
Even if you’re talented, this part of the puzzle is extremely important, and it’s not like I’m some incredible success, but I used to get frustrated because I felt helpless regarding getting a band together, booking shows and starting a label of any kind. Once I started talking to people, I never met before and took social risks, that’s when things started working out in a way that I feel happy about.
Extra Notes From Lawnchair Records:
My latest release is A.D. by Ripper, Their second EP. Soon, I’ll release tapes by Tongue Party, Henry James Patterson and Jonny and the Cowabungas from Canada. Also Love Cop, another lawn chair artist from Portland, is touring the US and will be playing in MPLS on 1/20 (Bill and location TBH). That one will be cool because love cop is a Burger and Gnar artist and we don’t get enough of those shows or that type of music around here.