Dome Of Doom: Over A Decade Of Creative Expression
A decade in electronic music can seem like an eternity. Trends change, artists blow up and burn out, and the scene continues to evolve. Reaching the milestone of ten years for an independent electronic record label is quite the feat. One that Los Angeles-based Dome Of Doom proudly checked off last year. The label which is spearheaded by producer and DJ Wylie Cable has helped champion a myriad of artists that range from Daedelus to DMVU, thook, QRTR, Dabow, Huxley Anne, and Jon Casey.
With the incredible milestone in their rearview and an even brighter future ahead we had the distinct pleasure of connecting with Wylie Cable to explore the label’s origins, the impact of LA on their journey, their vision as a label, the team, and some of the highlights of their decade-plus run.
Like many cultural staples, Dome Of Doom started as a joke and then morphed into an experiment of sorts.
“The ‘Dome of Doom’ was literally a dumb inside joke with my old band Grapes & Nuts. There was this joke we had going that we were going to make a sick mobile studio attack dome that we could record in, drive around in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max world and throw shows out of, and it would also have like a cool balcony where we could smoke weed and have lunch after band practice. After the band inevitably broke up after many years of playing shows all around California in underground warehouse venues, I asked everyone if I could use the name ‘Dome of Doom’ for a new label project I was starting. No one seemed to mind, so I made a SoundCloud and a Bandcamp and was on my mfkn way!”
The label and Wylie himself were born and bred in Los Angeles. While many of today’s labels draw their inspiration from the internet and its various niche communities, Dome Of Doom took root in its birthplace: LA. As Wylie tells it, LA is in his DNA.
“I think being from Los Angeles has had a huge cultural impact on both me personally and the label's curation and ethos as well. LA is a huge cultural melting pot and I grew up surrounded by different races, religions, backgrounds, and ethnicities from pretty much every corner of the globe," he explains. "My own personal cultural history has immigrant grandparents from Mexico on my mother's side and Ireland on my father's side, and my family life itself has always been its own sort of cultural mashup of various immigrant cultures, which I feel is truly the fabric of what makes Los Angeles a city I am proud to be from.”
It’s not just the city and its culture but his musical journey that laid the foundation for what Dome Of Doom would become. From playing music in the orchestra at a Los Angeles public school, to starting his own band in seventh grade, music has always been at the core of Wylie’s being. Punk, metal, and hardcore bands followed which helped sparked the DIY ethos that would inform the label’s early foundation.
“Ultimately Dome of Doom Records is a punk rock experiment, I started it as a conceptual middle finger to the ‘music industry’ and have always run it with a very DIY mission statement. Originally I would just dub tapes myself and bike around LA with them in my backpack selling them to Amoeba, Poobah, Jacknife Records & Tapes, and whoever I could convince to buy the releases. I ran everything on SoundCloud and Bandcamp for the first few years, didn’t wait around for a distro deal or anything just said ‘fuck it we ball’ basically, and started improvising with the resources I had available to me at the time.
Ten years later I’m proud to say it's a fully functioning indie label that has sold tens of thousands of copies of albums, pressed over 100 unique physical releases on vinyl, CD, and cassette, garnered tens of millions of streams on our 1500+ song catalog, licensed music to major television and movie releases, and have had our music played worldwide on top tastemaker radio stations like the BBC, NPR, KCRW, NTS, RINSE FM and more… I feel it is still a pretty anarchic experiment and I am fortunate to work with artists that appreciate that aspect of my own creative vision.”
While some may write off the lack of experience in the early days, it proved to be a key differentiator. The platform is truly built by an artist for artists. While many artist-run labels may promise the same experience, it’s not always the case.
QRTR - infina ad nausea physical release [Dome of Doom]
Wylie expands on this saying, “I think one of the biggest differences between Dome of Doom and any other indie label you’d come across is that we are actually run by an artist, i.e. me. A lot of popular artists will start labels but just end up hiring some label manager to run it like any other business. There is nothing 'wrong' with this model but I see so many indie record labels just end up mirroring all of the faults we’ve found with the major label system. Locking artists into exclusive multiple record deals, demanding ownership of artists' masters, overlaying some basic and arbitrary artwork format requirements, and just generally smothering people's creative vision. Artists need full and total creative control over their work, full stop.”
The willingness to give artists full creative control has resulted in a roster and catalog that is as broad as it is deep. Wylie believes his label’s ability to let artists work free of creative restrictions is the key to artists giving fans their best work saying, “there is so much noise in the world, music is one of those few rare things that I see have the power to cut through that and facilitate a real authentic human experience, and that is something worth fighting for and protecting.”
Given this outlook, there’s no checklist or formula when it comes to discovering and signing new artists at Dome Of Doom. In a sense, Wylie searches for the intangible stating, “every individual artist I have ever encountered or worked with is so wildly different and starkly incomparable from the next. I follow my intuition. I know when I am in a room with someone whether or not they have that undeniable creative spark, you either have it or you don't. It's not something you can teach, it's something you are innately born with. Is that a blessing or a curse? Idk ask your artist friends how their mental health is, hahaha.”
Wylie helms Dome Of Doom as the founder and label manager but is happy to highlight an amazing team of independent companies, artists, and professionals that help bring the vision to life.
Their digital distribution is handled by one of the top independent digital distro companies, Kevin Moo’s Alpha Pup. While their physical distro is managed in part by the iconic FatBeats. They’ve helped with national distribution while Cable still handles a lot of direct record shop relationships that he’s cultivated over years of touring from Amoeba (LA, SF, Berkeley, USA) to Fingerprints Music (Long Beach, USA), Rough Trade (London, UK), Rush Hour Records (Amsterdam, Netherlands), and Loser Store (Osaka, Japan). Their label publicist Erik Otis has served as their copywriter on Bandcamp and their website along with landing press and radio placements to help amplify their releases. They also have a few interns turned part-time employees that help out at shows or with large orders, though Wylie is still handling the bulk of the shipping himself.
Despite living in a digital world, physical releases have been at the core of Dome of Doom since their inception. It’s helped to serve as a key differentiator further expanding the artistic vision the label is keen to foster. From slime green cassettes, to stunning blue vinyl, the physical pressings are truly an extension of the art itself.
Dabow - Weird Music Of All Kinds Physical Release / Dome of Doom
“I started the label doing bootleg pressings of tapes first so it's always just been the origin point for the whole project. I’m definitely surprised to see how a lot of newer labels will overlook the power of physical media in favor of focusing solely on the online numbers game, of course, streaming is an inescapable part of how people listen to and discover music now, but I still see it as more of a discovery tool ultimately. When someone really makes a deep personal connection with music that they love, being able to have a tangible connection and memories associated with a vinyl, tape, or even CD feels like the completion of the discovery process that starts when you find a new song online. You get to manifest it in the physical world, where we all actually live.”
Listening to Wylie you can see why Dome Of Doom is going strong after nearly 11 years. It comes down to one thing: passion. The love for music is felt by everyone who encounters the label from its artist to its fans. That passion continues into 2022 with a stacked release schedule.
The label is planning to drop an album a month for the remainder of the year and is already plotting out its 2023 calendar. Wylie is also working on his next record which will arrive in the Fall. While the sonic offering may be hard to predict it’s clear to say that Dome Of Dome will continue rolling through with fury.
Dome Doom’s Most Iconic Releases
“I’m going to use this opportunity to plug our 10-year anniversary compilation, which is basically a painstakingly careful curation of the last decade of our releases sculpted down to 30 tracks spanning from 2011-2021 that I feel really shows the many eras of sound the label has already moved through. I view the label as a sort of sonic bridge between several generations of sound artists, very much rooted in the original “LA Beat Scene” sound pioneered by artists like Daedelus, Ras G, Dibiasi, and Madlib, while looking forward to the next phase of experimental electronic music that draws from those original inspirations but re-interprets them into their own unique sounds and colors. I’m confident that if you asked artists like DMVU, Huxley Anne, Jon Casey, QRTR, or any other core artist on the Dome of Doom roster they would quote many of these same influences in their work even though the material they make is dramatically different in its production style and manifests as a new modern sound, I believe the origin point is the same and that is one of choosing to create art that is true and meaningful to oneself.” - Wylie Cable