- Uphere Records
A quick scan on the UPHERE! Records Instagram page shows what looks like a well-established label going off left and right about their artists, a small-but-growing scrappy collection of young, mostly Utah County-based musicians. But UPHERE! is itself also young and scrappy, founded just a few months ago in November 2020 by two friends in their early 20s. Brady Flores and Tom Petersen were both born and bred in the area, and though Flores describes UPHERE! as "just a couple of young bucks making cassette tapes," the duo has quickly jumped into a shared vision for Utah music inspired by the people around them, and those who shaped it in the recent past.
"Brady and I got into indie music from mix CDs stolen from siblings, as well as iTunes new releases, which led to learning guitar, writing music, being in bands," explains Petersen, who also worked with the Pleasant Grove High School radio program, KPGR, as a teen. Petersen also booked shows for the station's venue, The Pig Pen, which was how he met Flores, who was playing at the time in a band called "days"—a band Petersen liked for their similarities to bands like Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing and Craft Spells, all purveyors of the 20-teens jangly guitar rock craze.
"We were both into the scene, had been following it since we were young and had a similar vision for the future of it," Petersen says. "Of course, we loved the bands coming out of the Utah scene at the time like Baby Ghosts, Bat Manors (Choir Boy), 90s TV and everything from the 'Dirty Provo' collective as well."
Dirty Provo consisted of a few releases featuring the above-mentioned bands and others through 2014 and 2015. It was deeply DIY, and while today it mainly serves as a snapshot of Provo's small-time indie scene at the time, for Flores and Petersen it is still an inspiration in how they approach UPHERE!
That includes the spontaneous fashion in which it started. "I was going to start UPHERE! records back in 2018, but I didn't really have the time or resources to do anything about it," Flores says. "Fast forward to last October, and Tom's cousin had just finished recording an album and Tom was like 'Well hey, why don't we just release it on the label you've been envisioning?' We threw it together—25 CDs really quick— in like one day."
Since then, they've teamed up with pretty much any band they like, helping push promotion and production of physical copies of the music—lately via tapes, though they've got plans to get back to CDs, and eventually vinyl. So far, these include bands like Toothpicks and Backhand, and solo artists like Super Young Adult and Nicole Canaan.
But they don't see themselves as a traditional label. "When you hear the words 'record label' you think of that suit and tie kind of business," Flores says, "but for us it's like a family, a lot of these people are our close friends, we hang out regularly."
They're also just fans of the music, even the stuff they find that's already released digitally. Petersen explains that they still like to help artists with physical releases because, "selfishly, we want to have a physical copy of it. We want to release it because we're collectors."
And while their fascination with collecting physical music may seem selfish to them, it doesn't seem to deter their peers in the scene from working with them to make a strong new music collective. Petersen says, "We have help from the artists just because they're pretty DIY so they do a lot of self-promotion, and then we've involved some people that are passionate about graphic design and social media who need some hours for internships."
Their five-person team of photographers, graphic designers and social media savvy folks also came together in one fast, recent week. And, right on time, as beloved all-ages venues like Kilby Court begin to open up to 50 percent capacity, UPHERE! will start booking more shows, like an upcoming date on May 15 with Dad Bod and Adult Prom, two Utah indie favorites who are joining UPHERE!.
As they sprout quickly, UPHERE! hopes to help establish a more united scene throughout Utah, too. Flores expresses frustration around growing up in a Utah County music scene often divided by religious differences, as well as the divisions he sees between the separate big city scenes. To him, the Provo-to-Salt Lake pipeline is far too similar to the Utah-to-Los Angeles pipeline.
"L.A.'s not famous because of being L.A., New York and Brooklyn aren't famous because of being New York and Brooklyn. They're famous because of what happened in those cities," Flores says, "Me and Tom want the same thing to happen here where five, 10 years down the road, people will look back at this and be like, 'That scene was really cool in Utah.'"
Petersen says it perfectly, and frankly: "Our families are here, you know? We want to have our music scene thrive where we're living and hanging out with our families." Follow the busy new label at @uphererecords on Instagram, because if you blink, you might miss their next big move.