When a band gets stamped with the label “DIY,” that usually means it’s got independently released music on Bandcamp and a string of house shows under its belt. In other words, DIY could describe a lot of bands that are just starting out.
“It seems like a useless word to me because if you’re doing a band, aren’t you already doing it yourself?” says D.C. punk vocalist Katie Alice Greer, 26. “It’s a word that has totally lost its meaning, except that it’s a marketing term. It’s marketable to people.”
“We just wanted full agency over how our music was coming out,” Greer says.
With Sister Polygon, Priests certainly has that — down to the smallest detail. Greer usually handles the imprint’s publicity; bassist Taylor Mulitz deals with design. Drummer Daniele Daniele (a pseudonym) oversees accounting, which sometimes includes tempering her bandmates’ expensive ideas.
“When the rest of us are like, ‘This is a great idea to print on sparkly, glow-in-the-dark paper,’ Daniele will be like, ‘Beautiful. That’s not possible,’” Greer says.
Priests guitarist G.L. Jaguar (also a pseudonym) handles the process of packaging each release and slipping them in the mail. If buyers find Cyndi Lauper trading cards in their packages, that’s because he found them recently and thought people would really enjoy them. (He also came up with the label’s name. It’s a reference to a song by Sicilian band Silver Bullets.)
This month, Sister Polygon celebrated a milestone of sorts: It put out its 10th release, Pinkwash’s Cancer Money 7-inch. The heavy Philadelphia band is friends with Priests. So is Cigarette, the slocore ensemble from D.C. that has a 7-inch coming out on the label, possibly this year.
But for Greer and Jaguar, running the label isn’t just about supporting their pals — it’s also about finding music that speaks to them, made by people who are just as passionate.
“When we see music and people who are putting in their all, it’s not just bleeding out your guts with your emotions — that’s important, too — but people who are really trying to express something where there is not space or dialogue for already. That is stuff we want to get behind and try to support,” Greer says.
It’s important to Sister Polygon that it picks artists who have some praxis behind their politics. One of the label’s bands, Downtown Boys, includes members involved in advocacy work.
“We’re a very political band and label, to a certain extent,” Greer says.
Yet Sister Polygon seems fueled not just by ideology, but by its own enthusiasm. Running the label is a labor of love that Priests seems more than willing to do.
“Sister Polygon: very stoked,” Jaguar says, improvising a tagline for the label.
Greer agrees. “Probably annoyingly so,” she says, laughing.
Stream Sister Polygon’s label sampler via Soundcloud: