Credit: Johnny Sampson

I had taken a job in music, and it was really not for me. It was a good lesson in the way things are typically done, but I found the system was so cumbersome that it stifled creativity and free and forward thinking. So I dropped the nice paycheck to follow people that inspired me: key among them [the creative forces at] Touch and Go, Sub Pop, and Dischord. I had no idea how much work it would be. It was 100 percent enthusiasm for the DIY and a healthy dose of blissful ignorance.

I never thought we (“I” for a long time) might not succeed. That said, it always occurs to me that I can do this better and that I’m missing something. Paranoia is good for the label. We wanted to release records by Tortoise or Gaunt or Freakwater and we did. Our first commercially successful album was by Freakwater. We just reissued Feels Like the Third Time for our 20th anniversary and it sold out immediately.

If you think you have it all figured out, you most certainly don’t. Each record is as unique as the musicians who made it. Think of it like a monochromatic jigsaw puzzle of 1,000 pieces, rather than launching a boat to see if it floats. It’s just something that needs to be figured out.

I am inspired often by my morning runs at the lake. If you follow the wisdom of John Coltrane, that’s as important as the affordable [Chicago] rent, the proximity to many of our early bands, or the great bartending job that I got at the Rainbo that allowed for me to run the label with no salary for so many years.

»Matt Clark, Tic Tac Totally Records