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Hillsborough's Yep Roc Records celebrates 25 years

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Nathan Golub for Yep Roc Records
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Hillsborough-based Yep Roc Records is celebrating a big milestone — the label is turning 25. Yep Roc has played a key role in the development of artists including the Grammy Award-winning Steep Canyon Rangers, Aoife O'Donovan, Nick Lowe, Tift Merritt, Chatham County Line and Watchhouse.

Co-general managers for the label David Shaw and Mariah Czap joined WUNC to talk about the celebration at The Cat's Cradle on Saturday, Oct. 22.

This is an excerpt of an edited transcript of that conversation. You can hear the full interview by clicking the LISTEN button at the top of this post.


Congratulations! Surviving and thriving as an independent label can be challenging. What do you think are the things that have helped Yep Roc reach this milestone?

David: The artists.

Mariah: Yeah.

David: And a really good group of people that have worked at the label throughout the years. You know, I've been at the label 11 years. Mariah, you've been...

Mariah: Nine.

David: Nine. And everyone that came before us and all the work they did to lay the foundation of what became the label and the work they put in, and of course, Glenn and Tor, the co-founders of it, you know, their passion for bringing really good artists to the label, and attracting that sort of talent, I think is everything. But at the end of the day, I'll go back to: it's the artists.

The lineup for the show at Cat's Cradle features some of North Carolina's leading alternative, roots rock, and Americana artists, some of whom were there almost from day one. Why did you decide to go in that direction for this celebration rather than bring in some of the farther-flung artists as you have for past anniversaries?

David: We had to start planning for this over a year ago, COVID was still and is still a thing. And in thinking about it, we originally thought, 'Maybe we won't do anything. It's just too weird. You know, it's too unknown.' And then it was actually Glenn, I think, who said, 'Well, wait a minute, what if we did something with all the local artists and really celebrated them and thanked them for all they did to help us get off the ground.' And that sort of was the germ of the idea that became where we are now.

Mariah: Those foundational artists will all play the main room and then we have two new signings to the Yep Roc rock roster who are playing the backroom. So it's sort of paying homage to Yep Roc's foundation and Yep Roc's future.

What else are you looking forward to in the coming year of releases on Yep Roc?

Mariah: Personally, I'm very excited we've signed Jenny Owen Youngs. I was a teenager in the mid-2000s, and her music was synced on Weeds and Grey's Anatomy. Like every TV show I watched as a high schooler. And so it's really cool that we're working with her. She hasn't put out a new full-length record, just a Jenny Owen Youngs record, in about 10 years. Josh Kaufman produced it. There's a lot of collaborators on it. It's a really, really special record, and that one should be out probably summer of 2023.

David: And we haven't even announced that we're working with her yet. So we're kind of hearing it here first.

Mariah: And then, if you know the band, Peter Bjorn and John. Ya know, Young Folks? The whistling song. We've signed Peter Morén. Peter has done a bunch of different Peter Morén projects, obviously the Peter Bjorn and John, but we are working with him on a project called Sun Years. Also a lot of collaborations on that record. Peter is based in Sweden, so is his team. So yeah, I'm also really excited about that record, because he's sort of like iconic in his own way, but it's a new project.


Yep Roc Records celebrates its 25th anniversary at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro on Saturday, Oct. 22. The show starts at 6 p.m.

Eric Hodge hosts WUNC’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and files reports for the North Carolina news segments of the broadcast. He started at the station in 2004 doing fill-in work on weekends and All Things Considered.
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