The Elephant 6 Recording Company
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|The Elephant 6 Recording Company|
Will Cullen Hart
|Genre||Indie rock, psychedelic folk, psychedelic pop, experimental rock, lo-fi, chamber pop|
|Country of origin||United States|
Denver, Colorado (founded)
The Elephant 6 Recording Company (or simply Elephant 6) is a musical collective that spawned many notable independent bands of the 1990s, including the Apples in Stereo, the Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, Beulah, Elf Power, of Montreal, The Minders and Circulatory System.
The collective was founded in Denver, Colorado, by childhood friends Robert Schneider, Bill Doss, Will Cullen Hart and Jeff Mangum, along with founding Apples in Stereo members Jim McIntyre and Hilarie Sidney. Schneider, Doss, Hart and Mangum grew up making music and sharing cassette tapes in Ruston, Louisiana, while attending high school. They started several bands and pet projects: Doss and Hart with the Olivia Tremor Control (then called Synthetic Flying Machine), Mangum with Neutral Milk Hotel, and Schneider with the Apples in Stereo. They shared an admiration for the music of the 1960s, especially the Beach Boys, considering the unfinished Smile project the era's "Holy Grail".
Wishing to emulate the Beach Boys' Brother Records, Schneider created the Elephant 6 record label when he moved to Denver in late 1991 to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder. According to Schneider, Hart coined the name "Elephant 6" and Schneider added "Recording Company."  In Denver, Schneider and new friends founded the Apples, which eventually became the Apples in Stereo. Recorded at the newly built Pet Sounds Studio, and released in June 1993, The Apples' Tidal Wave 7" EP was the first Elephant 6 product. Hart designed the Art Nouveau-inspired Elephant 6 logo for the EP's label.
Doss had moved to Athens, Georgia, where he joined Hart and Mangum in Synthetic Flying Machine, which became the Olivia Tremor Control. They released California Demise as their first recording and Elephant 6's second. Afterward, Elephant 6's base moved from Denver to Athens.
Success, disbandment, and continuation
Several Elephant 6 projects began to find commercial success in the late 1990s, including Beulah, the Minders, Elf Power, Dressy Bessy, the Music Tapes, and of Montreal, as well as the founding bands. Most of the bands subsequently signed with major record labels; E6 as an entity slowly deteriorated until the collective called it quits in 2002 due to recording difficulties and lack of organization. The collective's bands all moved on to various labels and projects of their own.
Many band members are still friends and even tour together under various guises. Many live together on the Orange Twin Conservation Community in Athens. The term "Elephant 6" has since come to refer to a broad range of bands and spin-off projects that the record label spawned.
In 2007, The Apples in Stereo featured the Elephant 6 logo on their album New Magnetic Wonder, announcing "The Elephant 6 Recording Company reopens our doors and windows, and invites the world: join together with your friends and make something special, something meaningful, something to remember when you are old." This marked the first major release in five years to bear the Elephant 6 logo.
In 2008, the Elephant 6 logo was also used when Julian Koster released his long-awaited Music Tapes For Clouds and Tornadoes under the name the Music Tapes. He also assembled The Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour, which featured contributions from Will Cullen Hart and Bill Doss of Olivia Tremor Control, Scott Spillane of the Gerbils, Andrew Reiger and Laura Carter of Elf Power, Theo Hilton of Nana Grizol, John Fernandes and Eric Harris of OTC, The Music Tapes and Circulatory System, Robbie Cucchiaro of The Music Tapes, Charlie Johnston and Suzanne Allison of the 63 Crayons, Nesey Gallons, Jeff Mangum, and Peter Erchick. The show took place in the UK, curated by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel, as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in March 2012 in Minehead, England.
In recent years, Robert Schneider has explored a number of experimental music projects, such as the Teletron mind-controlled synthesizer and non-Pythagorean scale of his own invention. Since Elephant 6's inception, its members showed strong interest and participated in experimental music, particularly the Olivia Tremor Control and Von Hemmling. In recent years Will Cullen Hart has also collaborated with bands such as Athens Tango Project on a cover version of "I Have Been Floated", to which he contributed vocals. In 2017, Faster Circuits released the album Apophenia, which features the Elephant 6 logo. The Elephant 6 Recording company has begun reissuing material on vinyl, one of the first reissues being the Gerbils' Are You Sleepy? in 2019. In 2019, a documentary directed by Chad Stockfleth, A Future History Of: The Elephant 6 Recording Co, was released on VHS tape.
List of bands part of or associated with Elephant 6
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- The Apples in Stereo
- Black Swan Network
- Casper & the Cookies
- Chocolate U.S.A.
- Circulatory System
- Dressy Bessy
- Elf Power
- The Essex Green
- Frosted Ambassador
- The Gerbils
- A Hawk and a Hacksaw
- The High Water Marks
- The Instruments
- The Ladybug Transistor
- The Late B.P. Helium
- Major Organ and the Adding Machine
- M Coast
- The Minders
- The Music Tapes
- Nana Grizol
- Nesey Gallons
- Neutral Milk Hotel
- of Montreal
- The Olivia Tremor Control
- Pipes You See, Pipes You Don't
- Secret Square
- The Sunshine Fix
- Thimble Circus
- Von Hemmling
- Kielty, Tom (March 22, 2002). "Dressy Bessy". The Boston Globe.
- "The Elephant Six Recording Company – Once Upon a Time..." The Official Elephant Six Archive. Archived from the original on October 27, 2006. Retrieved November 30, 2006.
- Dillon, Mark (2012). Fifty Sides of the Beach Boys. Toronto, Ont.: ECW Press. ISBN 9781770901988.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- ATP curated by Jeff Mangum
- Lamb, Gordon. "Hope for Agoldensummer Scores Podcast, and More Music News and Gossip". Flagpole Magazine. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
- "Apophenia". Bandcamp. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
- Thompson, Paul. "The Gerbils: Are You Sleepy". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
- Bloom, Madison. "Elephant 6 Documentary Is Out Now...On VHS". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
- Cooper, Kim (2005). Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. 33⅓. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-1690-X.