The Milwaukee experimental pecussionist tells Decider about his label and jamming with Bon Iver
Crouton Records, one of Milwaukee’s most underrated labels, is coming to an end after 10 years and more than 40 releases so that label head Jon Mueller can pursue other projects. Mueller, a renowned percussionist, is already finding new ways to fill his schedule, including a Japanese tour in February with his band Collections Of Colonies Of Bees. Decider recently talked to Mueller about the end of Crouton, the evolution of his well-received solo record Metals, and the ongoing collaboration between Collections Of Colonies Of Bees and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.
Decider: Why are you shutting down Crouton Records?
Jon Mueller: It's become more and more difficult to dedicate the time it needs. I've done many things with the label that surpassed my expectations of what I could do with it, and worked with many amazing people, but I've made the decision to focus now on my own work.
D: Do record labels not mean as much as they once did?
JM: Labels are still definitely significant. Good ones have great relationships with many people that can help spread the word and music. That's their advantage over what an individual or band is capable of. I'll continue to work with a variety of labels going forward with my own work. And I feel that I’m now more capable to help, as I've lived on both sides of the fence.
D: What new projects will take up the time that you once dedicated to the label?
JM: I’d like to focus more on my own stuff--practicing, fleshing out ideas, and working on other projects. But I’d still like to find some sense of balance so I'm not constantly busy. I just finished an incredibly busy year, between finishing grad school, working full time, doing four tours, and tons of recording. I need to find more downtime for inspiration.
D: Collections Of Colonies Of Bees is currently collaborating with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. Do you have any details on that?
JM: We have been working on the collaboration with Justin for the past year and it should be finished up some time next year. It's pretty interesting so far. It’s definitely pushing both of us in new directions. I can't talk too much about the Justin collaboration outside of the group. That would be more appropriate with them, but I can say it's an extension of what both of us have done previously.
D: Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
JM: I have a new record coming out early next year on Table Of The Elements/Radium called Physical Changes. Featuring a CD/LP/DVD in one set, it was a big undertaking, but I'm very happy with how it's turned out. I had help from a bunch of friends on it, including James Plotkin, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Marcus Schmickler, Dan Burke, Jim Schoenecker, and David Dinnell. It's the continuation of the idea I started with the Metals record, but goes far beyond that. I'm pretty excited about it, and motivated now to plan the live set I'll do for it, starting at next year's South By Southwest festival.
D: How is Physical Changes a continuation of Metals?
JM: Physical Changes is based on the piece I performed for all the Metals live sets, with the addition of the various musicians I mentioned, plus a video as well. After playing the set many times, I realized it took on a life of its own, outside of the Metals record. I wanted to see how much more different I could make it, so that's why I invited others to participate. The live version of this might include the video work, plus an updated live version based on the previous live Metals' version. So, it’s yet another way to present this material in a different way. The goal was to create as many details as possible, so that listening would be more of an experience, rather than simply being presented as a percussion record.