I’d Be Lying If I Said I Know Exactly What I’m Doing – A Q+A With Connor Murray of DIY Label Crafted Sounds

Photo provided by Connor Murray

Crafted Sounds is a Pittsburgh-based DIY label that has organized countless events around the city and released excellent music from The Zells, Flower Crown, BBGuns, and more. Connor Murray, the omnipresent Energizer Bunny behind the Crafted Sounds operation, was kind enough to answer some questions for Bored In Pittsburgh. Check it out below:

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What is Crafted Sounds? A tagline or mission statement, if you will.

Crafted Sounds is an independent label based in Pittsburgh that provides limited physical media, promotion, and distribution for artists. We are simply doing the best we can to help share music for your listening pleasure. 

Now tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Connor Murray?

I am the label guy that dubs the tapes, handles shipping, sends emails, and acts like a fool on social media for Crafted Sounds. I am originally from Severna Park, MD and I ended up in Pittsburgh for school at Pitt, where I will be graduating from this month. I took a job that requires me to be in Pittsburgh for the next two years, so I’ll be here for a minute. Go Ravens. 

Photo by Katey Ladika (Pittsburgh City Paper)

What led you to start a label from the comfort (or discomfort) of your dorm room at Pitt?

What happened was that I tried to make music and play guitar and such in high school, but I was too impatient. However, I still wanted to be involved in music in some capacity even if I was not making it. There were some DIY labels that I admired like Too Far Gone Records, Friends Records, and Disposable America… I was like, “I can do something like that and just have fun with it.” I figured out how to duplicate tapes, format artwork, and set up a Bandcamp in early 2016. Crafted Sounds’s first release dropped on my 18th birthday during my last semester of high school. I just took my equipment to school and as I continued to meet people the label shifted from an internet focus to more of a personal community focus in Pittsburgh and beyond. The dorm life sucked, but that first year was so much fun. 

Talk a bit about the process of getting Crafted Sounds off the ground. Was it a struggle?

Crafted Sounds’s first compilation release show in 2017 (photo by Megan Cimmerer, artist is Pinstripe Sunny)

I reached out to a lot of people that I looked up to. Some of them responded and shared some of their process with me. It was really nice of them to do so. I took what I learned from them, and put my own spin on things based on budget, branding, and personal preference. The initial investment was no more than $150 between tapes and equipment. Sure I’ve poured more in, but honestly haven’t really been in the red since. I’d say the main things I struggled with was just lacking experience in the industry and my age since I wasn’t 21 for the first 3 years of the label. I am constantly learning with each release. I’d be lying if I said I know exactly what I am doing. 

Do you have any advice for the aspiring label heads out there?

Do not start a label in 2020 (we really shouldn’t exist anymore haha). But, if you do want to give it a try, you just have to be persistent and ready to respond to rapid change. Just know that there is no “right” way to go about things. At the same time, do not be afraid to take risks. 

2019 Bridges album release show (Photo by Connor Murray, artist is Merce Lemon)

Are there any artists (Pittsburgh or non) that you haven’t worked with yet who you’d want to team up with in the future? If so, who are they, and why?

Uhhh there are so many artists I adore. There are so many reasons why I may or may not choose to work with someone. At the same time, there is plenty of music I love that just does not fit within the curation of the label. Right now, things are strange with this COVID-19 situation. I am rather hesitant to work with new acts at this moment. Sure, there are acts I have looked into or talked to recently, but I will keep that under wraps 😉 

You’ve been in Pittsburgh for a few years now. Have you noticed any changes in the music community while you’ve been here?

Crafted Sounds’s two-year anniversary show (photo by Stu Lewis)

It’s wild how fast acts, venues, promotion, and such can go up and come down. Turnover in DIY scenes is pretty crazy, so I try to live in the moment and appreciate things while we have them. I have have been pretty nostalgic lately about stuff we did in our first year when I was a freshman at Pitt. So many bands from then just don’t exist anymore. Overall, I’d like to say that Pittsburgh is starting to open up to some noisier and more experimental stuff, but it all depends where you look. The diversity in sounds is vast. 

What’s next for you and for Crafted Sounds?

Merce Lemon LP1 hopefully this summer. 

Is there anything that I forgot to ask or that you’d like people to know about you, Crafted Sounds, Pittsburgh music, or really anything else?

We celebrate 4 years of the label on April 13. We were going to have an anniversary/graduation party, but that is not happening anymore. Go buy a tape so the label can continue to exist lol. ALSO keep an eye out for live events on Instagram (@craftedsounds) and other platforms. The first event will be on Saturday 4/11 at 3:30pm EST. 

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Many thanks to Connor for his thoughtful answers and for his tireless support of the Pittsburgh music community. Make sure to follow Crafted Sounds on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for music, merch, and updates.

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