Stephanie Collazo (writer)
Chris Hansen may not be able to play an instrument but he has taken his love of music and turned it into a business. Since forming No Sleep Records in late 2006 Hansen has signed Balance and Composure, All or Nothing and The Wonder Years to his California based independent record label. Hansen took some time out of his hectic schedule to give us the scoop on what’s next for No Sleep Records, where it all began and of course his ink.
Inked: What was your involvement with the music scene prior to starting No Sleep?
Hansen: I graduated high school in 2002, and the next summer I started working in the music scene when I interned at Fearless Records. Shortly after I was hired at Smartpunk, the then sister company, [where I worked] for a year or two. After that I was a nomad for a bit, eventually working at Revelation Records and finally Trustkill Records in NJ as the art director. Other then that I worked at a record store in SLC in 2004 for about 6 months.
Inked: Who was your first "big artist"?
Hansen: The first artist that took off from our roster would have to be The Wonder Years, who are now on Hopeless Records and killing it. We still work closely with them on their vinyl and they are my dear friends. The other ones that have since blown up as well would be Touche Amore, La Dispute and Balance and Composure.
Inked: Why did you start No Sleep Records?
Hansen: I started No Sleep Records because I knew I loved music, and could not play an instrument so releasing music just seemed like the best way to be involved. With No Sleep I wanted to create something that was similar to the labels I grew up following where it felt more like a community and you could trust the labels for good music. One of the other main things I set out to do was to keep the label's roster as diverse as possible, to show kids that it is OK to like something different than your friends, or something other than what the mainstream is shoving down your throat. Really I just want to release records I love, and hope others get it.
Inked: What are the pros and cons of being independent?
Hansen: Honestly I think there are only pros to it, sure there are some down sides like cash flow, etc. - but at the end of the day, No Sleep is mine and something I created. There are no suits to cloud the vision of what No Sleep is to me, and to force me to release records from bands that would make me miserable. I am doing this because it’s what I love, and I am lucky to be able to do it everyday.
Inked: How do you go about choosing who you sign? Is there a certain look or sound you look for?
Hansen: When I find a band I am into I like to start conversations with them, see what kind of people they are, see if they are in this for the right reasons, etc. To me, No Sleep is a family and to stay a tight knit family it needs to be full of people that I can get along with, be friends with. If they seem to be people I can respect, then no matter what they are singing about, as long as they believe in what they are doing and will work their asses off doing music that I love, then I’m sold.