Paths cross at the OKC-based record label and recording studio thanks to its artist-first take on industry networking and support
If there’s a reigning king of local compilation albums, it’s got to be Kyle Mayfield. A longtime co-organizer of the prolific Halloweentime music anthology series, Fright Night Club, he has a knack for bringing artists together under shared interests and varied sounds. 2016’s double album Nostalgia and the BrainSick Fever featured his alter ego Larry Chin looking inward on the warping of time and memory with a choice spread of artistic cohorts. Not long after, he founded Outpost 31 Studios to collaborate with the music community in a new capacity.
While he and label partner Kim Bastian technically may be the top execs of Outpost 31, there’s an artist-level methodology that keeps the organization focused on what matters most–the music. By helping artists where they are and, in cases like the new compilation, collaborating with them directly, OP31ST continues to be a natural extension of Mayfield’s passionate musical matchmaking.
This interview was conducted for a feature in the Oklahoma Gazette, which you can read here.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What is Outpost 31 Studios, artistically speaking? (Who are you?)
Kyle Mayfield: OP31ST at its core is Kim Bastian and myself. Both of us have been music lovers our entire lives and have been involved in the local music scene for decades, finding our way to every show we wanted to see and then some. It’s no wonder we met at Norman Music Festival in 2011. Oddly enough, after that, we had a very long non-intentional hiatus from each other only to be broken when we met back up at 51st St. Speakeasy in late 2019. We immediately started to collaborate on a Fright Night Club song. We worked very well together, so we started working on more things until I asked Kim to join our team.
Kim is a writer, actress, photographer, painter, and singer. I am a musician, producer, engineer, mastering engineer, and videographer. Together we handle the business side of the label.
We do have an extended family, though, that consists of artist Callie Fuller, Mastering Engineers Nikolas Thompson and Manny Sanchez, and Dwayne Weatherspoon, who is our computer/gear wizard (and is also the sensational artist S1M D.) Our friends Liz Humpula and Isaiah Sharp help in any way they can.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What is Outpost 31 Studios in music business terms? (What do you do?)
Kyle Mayfield: Our mission is to unite with passionate artists of all genres, of any status, who like to do things a little bit differently. We give them a platform to be who they want to be.
Outpost 31 Studios is an independent record label and recording studio based in Oklahoma City.
The artists retain full creative control. Our label/studio services can include album artwork, logo design, promotions, radio play, music videos, press, artist development, physical production, streaming services, studio sessions, mixing, mastering, press kits on our website, and more. We do as much as we can for our artists to get them heard and seen. It’s a constant learning game, too, so we always want to be growing, learning, and maturing.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: How did Outpost 31 get started? How long has it been in the works? When did you go public?
Kyle Mayfield: It all really got started with Brujo and my 30th birthday in 2018. I played a solo Larry Chin show at The Blue Note with our dear Seattle friends in the band Heatwarmer and a band playing their very first show, Brujo. That was the last time that Chin played live. Not only did I secure a friendship with the Brujo trio, but I also booked them in the studio and became their engineer.
I have been in several bands over the last two decades, touring, playing, recording ourselves, and trying to make something out of it. However, I had never been on the other side before. The business side and the music side, helping craft songs from the ground up and watching the band grow right in front of you. I started thinking about how I could help them even further by using connections I had made over my career. Maybe I could help get them out into the world.
I have always been a studio nut as well, so once I realized I could put the two together and maybe help some other musicians, it just clicked. That’s what I am supposed to do next–find like-minded artists and do whatever I can to help them go further.
I mulled over the idea for a few months starting at the beginning of 2019. It blossomed in my heart and soul pretty quickly, so on April 20 of the same year, I announced to the world that I was launching OP31ST.
I had been going for just under a year when Kim joined the family, and we were off to take on even more.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What have been your proudest accomplishments so far?
Kyle Mayfield: Honestly, we are so proud of every one of them, but printing the Harglow Remix Double LP to vinyl was a whole other world. Then when we decided to write and shoot a short horror film to go with the vinyl, and we printed the film to VHS. For a super nerd of horror movies and music, this is one of my biggest dreams come true. I have wanted to make a horror movie since I was a kid writing short screenplays and casting my friends to play the parts. Now my friends are making the music and I get to help make the movie? I am so grateful.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: How do you determine which musicians and professionals to work with?
Kyle Mayfield: It begins with their soul drive. If they are passionate about music and have a great heart and soul, we are interested. We will not work with someone who doesn’t have the right intentions. Period. No matter how good their music might be.
As far as the music side, we like to find things that are different from the rest–artists pushing the envelope and getting into new areas or revisiting old areas with a new perspective. We do love the strange and the different.
Sometimes people approach us, sometimes we approach other people.
We offer our services to artists outside of the label as well. If anyone is ever looking for help in any of those areas we are usually open to trying things out and seeing if we can create a solution.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: Do you see Outpost 31 as a part of the local music scene(s) of Oklahoma, or is it more in its own world apart from it? Or shades both?
Kyle Mayfield: Definitely shades of both. Even though we host bands from all over the US and in Germany, we host a lot of local artists as well. Since one of our goals is to unite musicians with each other, anytime we release a compilation album, it’s a connection piece that unites local acts with non-local acts, collaborating with people they never have before.
As bands get back on the road and start touring again, we will host some of our acts in the local scene and connect them even more. Some of our acts are side projects of musicians who are in bigger local acts as well.
As much as we want to help our acts get as far out there as they can, we also want our local scene to flourish.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What’s the deal with this new 2-volume compilation?
Kyle Mayfield: It started as an idea being tossed between Cameron Morris and myself at the beginning of quarantine about pulling shelved songs from local acts and putting together some sort of quarantine B-sides compilation.
As they do each time I have put together a compilation, it evolves and spirals out of my hands into the hands of so many talented and loving people, and before I knew it, this very cool, local, seemingly easily put together idea was now global, and included new musicians. It was no longer just shelved songs, but now we were all creating from scratch and sharing session after session, track after track, and BOOM. All of a sudden, this thing was so big we had to cut it into two records and reevaluate what it was supposed to be.
That’s when it turned into its own creature, morphing and taking shape on its own, becoming this experience. It took reflection to our current situation. It showed us that even when the world is falling apart and all seems lost, if we stick together and share love, we can overcome any messed-up situation this wild world is willing to throw our way.
As the songs progressed and we began formulating the record, the journey became clearer and clearer: a journey into the unknown world.
At two volumes with 11 tracks each, a wide spectrum of genres and styles swarm your ears and take you on a ride that you will want to revisit again and again. There’s everything from indie rock, chill hop, experimental, electronic, heavy rock, folk, and two cover songs/bonus tracks done by new cover band Alanis Moranis (which is Wes Cochran from Brujo and myself).
I can’t say enough about how organic and amazing everybody was while this was falling into place. We have acts that have formed for this compilation only, local band b-sides, brand new collaborations, those cover tunes, brand new tracks from established label acts, the return of a couple of bands, and a Fright Night Club band that is branching ever so slightly out.
Top it all off with Callie Fuller’s incredible artwork that depicts this journey so well, and you have got yourself one hell of a musical experience. Callie has done work for several Outpost 31 Studios projects in the past and she just kills it every time. You will get lost in this cover art, without a doubt.
We are so excited to share this comp with the universe.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What do you hope to achieve with the new compilation?
Kyle Mayfield: Connections and the sharing of a story we can all relate to. Going into this record, we knew it was gonna be a labor of love, and that’s how each compilation is for me. I was so inspired as a kid by Deep Elm putting out their massive compilations containing so many songs and bands that it has become a staple in my career. I love to connect people who have never connected before.
To curate collections of songs put together by musicians who haven’t or don’t normally collaborate–I love that feeling and that sound when multiple people’s art blend into this brand new monster, and it takes its first breath. That’s the heart and soul of why I put these together.
The second part is that this is OP31ST’s musical love letter to the world. This is a showcase of the artists we believe in, regardless of being on the label or not.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What is your favorite part(s) of the new compilation?
Kyle Mayfield: That’s SO hard to pick (laughs). I think I am just gonna have to say all of it. The sheer fact that I get to be involved with so many amazing people creating music is just beyond stellar. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What else does Outpost 31 have in store for 2021 and beyond?
Kyle Mayfield: Lots and Lots of excellent material. Later this year we have Softaware releasing his EPIC new album Molt on cassette tape. This record is ridiculously good and also marks our very first cassette print.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: Anything else you’d like to add or anyone you’d like to shout out?
Kyle Mayfield: Wanna shout out to our very good friend and colleague Dusty Saunders of Blotto Films out in Los Angeles. He and I have worked together on several projects together. The most recent collaboration between us is his unbeatable animated series called Happy Transmissions. A psychedelic and existential adventure through a world all his own to tackle real-life topics such as death, love, and the connection of humankind. With brilliant storytelling and insane visuals, I have the utmost pleasure of getting to score these adventures. Blotto has released episodes 1 thru 5 on his youtube channel and I am currently working on episodes 6-8, to be released soon so keep a lookout! You don’t want to sleep on this one!