The term "artistic collective" is often abused, but it fits the Johnstown, Pa.-based My Idea of Fun imprint quite well: Not exactly a label, not a publisher, the group is more a clearinghouse for like-minded artists. And with no executive or president, it just sort of flows.
"How it works is: I'm 25; I've lived in Johnstown most of my life; and it's such a tight scene, everyone knows what page everyone else is on," says Brandon Locher. He has been active in My Idea of Fun since its inception, and plays in the band Emmett and Mary (among others).
The website www.myideaoffun.org documents some 75 works put out under the collective's name -- mainly CDs, tapes, MP3 downloads and books. Most were released over the past three years (though the label claims a few as early as 2000), with more than 30 issued just last year. However extensive, Locher says the online catalog is just a sample -- not an attempt to document the collective's entire body of work.
"I have tons of stuff that I've done that'll never leave my room," Locher says. "And I'm sure a lot of others in the collective do, too. But I think [the catalog] is a good representation of what everyone is doing."
Four bands with ties to the collective -- Emmett and Mary, Hit & Miss Engines, Technological Epidemic and The Higher Fives -- will play a label showcase at the 31st Street Pub on Fri., Jan. 14. All four either have forthcoming full-lengths or have recently issued a record through My Idea of Fun.
While there are other label-collective groups out there (think Arts & Crafts, or Constellation), a healthy comparison could be drawn between the lo-fi aesthetics of My Idea of Fun and the Athens, Ga.-based Elephant 6 collective. And like Elephant 6, My Idea of Fun occasionally pulls in contributors from elsewhere. (Its latest compilation includes a few tracks from Brooklyn's Drew & the Medicinal Pen.)
But in the end, it's really a Johnstown thing.
"It's working out of Johnstown because that's where our lives are," Locher says. "And Johnstown has been working for us because, artistically, we have each other. It's not like I and two other people would relocate to Williamsburg to start a band. As artists, we have the resources we need in Johnstown."