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IU alumni start 1212 Records to showcase local music


Collin Thomas and Brian Berger have started a new record label in Bloomington called 1212 Records. The name comes from the address of their home, 1212 E. Atwater Avenue. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

Collin Thomas and Brian Berger's first step toward becoming music producers was turning their small college home, 1212 East Atwater Avenue, into a music venue called Doce Doce. That very address is now the name of their new record label — 1212 Records.

Run by three recent IU graduates, 1212 Records is dedicated to exposing listeners to underrepresented music.

Berger and Thomas met as audio engineering students at the Jacobs School of Music, and their partner Annie Skertic was an arts management major. When Berger began performing in Bloomington, he asked Thomas to be a drummer. They connected with numerous local bands and were highly involved with WIUX, IU’s student-run radio station. 

Thomas served as an on-air host, chief engineer, programming director, production director and as a member of the station's board of directors, according to his website.

Thomas said they began to fall in love with the music in Bloomington, and Berger said they were inspired to expose more people to what local music groups had to offer. 

When Thomas, Berger and Skertic graduated from IU in spring 2017, their careers took them on different tracks. Berger moved to California where he took a job in a post-production film facility in Beverly Hills, Thomas as for a broadcast consultation firm in Chicago, and Skertic works at a public relations firm in New York. 

In September, Skertic suggested she and Berger start their own label. Soon, Thomas was aboard. Berger said he and Thomas run the music side while Annie manages the press relations side of the business. 

“One of the reasons that at least I was interested in working on this is because there are so many things about being a musician that have nothing to do with being a musician,” said Thomas, referring to the managerial duties that go with producing music. 

Among these duties include setting the release date, writing a press sheet and sending emails.  

On Friday, Feb. 16, the group will debut Bloomington-based Heaven Honey’s first single, "Been Anybody," and in March the label is set to release an EP. 1212 Records anticipates a summer release for Fresh Kill, a music trio in Bloomington, who also recently signed and began recording with the label.

The first group to sign with them, Heaven Honey, is lead by IU arts management senior Jordan Gomes-Kuehner. Rounding out the group are guitarist Nick Harley and drummer Iain Donkin, both former IU students.

Heaven Honey is led by IU arts management senior Jordan Gomes-Kuehner, pictured above. Heaven Honey was the first group to sign with 1212 Records, a record label started by three recent IU graduates. Guitarist Nick Harley and drummer Iain Donkin, both former IU students, are also part of the group. 1212 Records is located in California.  Courtesy Photo and Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

Gomes-Kueher, a self-taught guitarist and an avid drummer, said she had little musical experience before coming to IU in 2014. She said played the drums for another group, Her Again, before it disbanded, and she formed Heaven Honey, which performed throughout the fall 2017 semester in venues throughout Bloomington. 

She found out about 1212 Records through a colleague from Her Again. Thomas reached out to her in the fall about signing with 1212. 

Gomes-Kueher said she’s enjoyed learning the process with 1212 Records. 

“We’re both kind of learning as we go,” Gomes-Kueher said. “The other day I asked Collin what should we do? What do most bands do? What’s standard protocol? He was like ‘I don’t know. I’m just as new to this as you are.’ So that's also nice. It’s not as intimidating.”

Thomas said that Heaven Honey and Fresh Kill are good enough to be with major labels.

“We have mutually beneficial relationships with these people right now because they are offering us access to their art, and we’re super passionate about that,” Thomas said.

Thomas and Berger said they would like to see the day when they could run their record label full-time and are currently scouting for new talent.

1212 Record’s upcoming releases will be available on Apple, Spotify, SoundCloud and any other place music is sold. 

A previous version of this article identified Fresh Kill as an all-girl band, though one member is non-binary. The article also incorrectly stated Whitney and White Reaper had been announced in the lineup for Culture Shock 2018. These artists played at the festival two years ago. The full lineup has not been announced as of Feb. 15. The IDS regrets these errors.

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