Bill and Lisa Roe are the kind of people who make you want to immediately go out to meet your soul mate. They have an infectious charm and play off each other the way other great dynamic duos do—they’re like the Starsky and Hutch or Bonnie and Clyde of Chicago’s music community, juggling raising a family and running a record label. Former bandmates in CoCoComa and current owners of pop label Trouble in Mind, the husband-and-wife team have been tastemakers in the music scene for years, so it’s no surprise that their Palmer Square apartment is as cool as it is.
It’s a buffet of eye candy: colorful and airy with bright turquoise couches and a standing terrarium; a black-and-white corner pops with a pink rotary phone. The mantel is lined with the weirdest toys you could ever find at an antique store. A gigantic psychedelic 7 Up sign from an old convenience store hangs above the couch. They’ve got a lotta stuff, yet it’s carefully arranged and particularly selected in the way that one would curate—OK, a record label.
“Our aesthetic is sort of midcentury modern meets 60s flower power,” Lisa says. “We’re collectors that don’t like clutter.” That makes sense: both rockers have day jobs that involve organizing and categorizing. Lisa is a librarian and Bill works at Permanent Records, which helps explain the gazillion LPs. (“Any cabinet with sliding doors is filled with records. Our splurge for a new house is built-in record shelving . . . after bedrooms for our children!” Lisa says.)
Having kids is often a catalyst for musicians to call it a day, sell the guitars, and maybe even move to the suburbs, but when music is so intertwined with your life, that’s hardly an option. While it did become difficult for the couple to continue CoCoComa once their daughter was born, starting a record label served as an excellent alternative.
“It seemed like an easy way to keep records and music in our lives,” Bill says.
The label once had office space in the Roes’ home, but the newest addition to their family changed that: “Now our ‘label manager’ guards it . . . by sleeping in there,” Lisa jokes about turning the office into their baby’s bedroom.
“Yeah,” Bill says. “Now I have a sort of rolling shipping cart that gets stored in the closet in the kitchen.”