Last year, Meredith Graves put herself through over 200 brutal and cathartic performances as lead singer in Perfect Pussy. Taking its toll on her health – and causing permanent damage to her voice – many would have forgiven her for taking time out to recover. Instead, she’s more passionate than ever and is using her downtime to help expose new bands and artists through a brand new label she’s set up: Honor Press.
With the help of Mike Sniper of Captured Tracks (the legendary New York label who’ve signed Diiv, Mac DeMarco, Dum Dum Girls and Perfect Pussy among others) Graves’ first release on the new label is the debut album from Sacramento post-hardcore trio So Stressed. You only have to listen to her talk passionately about the band to see that Honor Press isn’t a vanity project – it’s an absolute necessity.
“I’ve known Morgan [Fox, So Stressed singer] for a while, we were internet friends,” she says. “He sent me the record and I listened to it once and I made it maybe 10 minutes into the record before I emailed him and said, ‘Morgan, please let me put it out. If you let me be the person who’s lucky enough to put this record out I will do it to the best of my ability, because I love it so much.’ The So Stressed record is setting the framework for the tone of the entire label – I will probably end up having a very limited release schedule because they’ve set the bar so high.”
‘The Unlawful Trade Of Greco-Roman Art’ is the name of the album and it’s a ferocious introduction to one the year’s heaviest bands. “I’ve compared them to Q & Not U and Blood Brothers,” Graves says. “They strike this really amazing and extremely intense balance between making violent, hateful, blistering, nasty and reprehensibly psychotic music.”
Honor Press won’t simply be a hardcore label though. Graves is eager to expand into different genres and styles. “I think that’s dangerous,” she says as she sidesteps the pigeonhole. “I’m not working with anyone I can’t build a really intense friendship with. I’m deeply interested in talking to rappers and DJs. I love hardcore but I’m probably more likely to release an experimental jazz record than to put out a guitar band next.”
An interest in diversity is one quality Graves says will make her a good label boss; the other is that she’s very picky. If you want to sign to Honor Press, you’re going to have to impress. “I hate everything! I’m notorious. I like about three bands!” she laughs.
Surely that’s an exaggeration? “I’m extremely critical, I don’t like anything. From TV, to music to books. I’m just weirdly fucking picky. It’s a really uncool way to be but I know it’s gonna make for some interesting releases.”
If you want to get to the core of Honor Press though, look no further than their motto: “No snobs, no phonies and no shitheads”. It’s a mantra for life, according to Graves – and one she plans to stick by.
“At first it was a joke and I wanted to rephrase it but then it stuck because it’s actually true. They’re the three things since I’ve been touring with my band that have put me off from trusting other people and bands. The percentage of people that are snobs, phonies and shitheads is so vast above and beyond the people that are awesome.”
As well as fronting Perfect Pussy and getting the label off the ground, Graves has also revealed she’s writing a solo album. However, that record won’t be released on Honor Press. “It’s going to be coming out on Captured Tracks,” she explains. “Honor Press is about me showing my friends to the world. I’ve got enough people in the world who already love my band. Now it’s my turn to put out my friends’ bands.”