We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina Bulbenko and Rex Broome and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Christina and Rex, what do you attribute your success to?
Big Stir Records operates within a certain genre field — guitar pop or “power pop” as it is sometimes called — and although it’s a relatively small genre, it exists worldwide, with fans and artists everywhere. We became a record label almost as a sidelight because, through booking live shows and tours, we’d come to see that world as not a competitive playing field, but a community of like-minded bands and songwriters, and our mission as one of strengthening the ties within that world. We discovered that we could introduce the people on various local scenes to one another, and foster mutual support across the boards, creating a true musical community. We’ve kept that as our heart and soul maxim: we’re stronger together. And when fans see the artists interacting as friends and collaborators, it starts to paint a vibrant and inviting picture of a real “scene”. Our efforts in that area have been appreciated by both the artists and the fans, and the radio and journalism people who are a big part of keeping it all alive. Between that and our focus on quality control, we’ve been able to create something that’s more than just a “brand”, and we’re thrilled every time we hear what our efforts mean to the people for whom we, ultimately, do all the work.

What should our readers know about your business?
The only reason to start a record label these days is out of sheer love of music — everyone knows the industry faces a rough time and there’s little money to be made by startups. That said, most of the labels we admire throughout rock history started much as we did: by accident. But once we found ourselves, much to our surprise, being taken seriously within our field, we committed ourselves to learning how to do it right, to get our artists the recognition they deserve. The learning curve has been steep and is still ongoing, and both of us have learned to do many things we wouldn’t have imagined being able to do just a few years ago. What makes us most proud of the standing we now enjoy is that we approached things from the artist perspective (as a band), but we have made the leap into taking the difficult business stuff seriously. And we’ve found ways to do both at the same time. That means we’re trusted by the artists with whom we work, for understanding where they’re coming from, and being able to translate that into actual strategies for promotion and sales. It’s an ongoing process, but we’re proud to be getting better all the time, without losing sight of the passion and artistry that inspired us.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Of course this is a tricky question in the pandemic age, but we have indeed hosted touring bands from all over the country, and the world! Our overseas visitors — they’ve come from the UK, Sweden, Germany and beyond — have often wanted to see the iconic music sights that dot the LA landscape, on Sunset and beyond, and we’ve obliged. But the most rewarding experiences have been introducing them to the local favorites close to our Burbank headquarters. First and foremost is Joe’s Great American Bar & Grill on Magnolia, who host our monthly concert series (in better times) — odds are that our visitors will be performing there, but it’s a jewel of eclectic musical presentations regardless. We’ve developed a tradition of treating our visitors to a meal at Pablito’s on Burbank Boulevard, whose street-rooted Peruvian-Japanese fusion food never fails to delight. Musicians in our charge often need gear, and while they’ll want to visit the massive emporiums like Guitar Center, for practical needs and personal service, we take them to Charles Music in Glendale. Likewise, they’re going to want to go record shopping, and while Amoeba is legendary and we still mourn the loss of Tower, our music nerd friends have invariably fallen in love with Freakbeat Records in Sherman Oaks when we take them there — they’ll most likely see the poster for their upcoming gig in the window, and go home with some rarities they’ve been seeking for years.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Our story is all about collaborators and inspiration! In the present day, we have wonderful and close relationships with artists all over the world, but we’ve always been clear on who the “Founding Fathers and Mothers” of Big Stir Records were, and are. They happen to be the members of the first four bands whose records we released, but their influence and encouragement and insight go much further than that. So we salute STEVEN WILSON of the band Plasticsoul, PATRICK “POOCH” DiPUCCIO of The Condors, BLAKE JONES of Blake Jones & The Trike Shop, and PETER WATTS and RUTH ROGERS of Spygenius over in the UK. Without them, we quite literally would not be where we are today.

Website: www.bigstirrecords.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bigstirrecords/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/StirBig
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bigstirrecords
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/BigStirMedia/
Other: https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/

Image Credits
Group photo at Joe’s and stage photo by Michael Bulbenko. Flyer art by Ridley Broome.

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