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Psychic Hysteria on building a community and why DIY culture is so important

“You don’t need to be rich to do this stuff but it’s good to have a community around you that can help.”

Despite 13 releases in just over two years, Kurt Eckardt still feels as though his label Psychic Hysteria is still just getting started. What initially began as an avenue for Eckardt to self-release, has expanded into a community of music and zine makers that champions, above all, a sense of autonomy and a DIY ethos.
 
Speaking with Eckardt and his partner Kalindy Williams in their spiritual home of The Old Bar, it’s clear the understanding between them translates well with other creatives. The pair are the forces behind Heat Wave and Astral Skulls, two bands who have released music through Psychic Hysteria. The label is also home to local luminaries Piss Factory, Gnohms, Plaster of Paris and WARS, with more bands on the horizon in 2018.    
 
"Psychic Hysteria is basically made up of bands I love," explains Eckardt. “We both go to so many shows and we play with so many bands we love. A lot of them want to self-release but don’t know where to start. We’re a support for that more than anything."
 
While Williams' contribution to the label is more creative than admin, it's clear her investment is just as pronounced. "I want more people to hear these bands that I also really like. I think what Psychic Hysteria gives them is a platform when they might not have one, and ultimately the label helps them to reach a wider audience than they would be able to on their own."
 
Fundamental to the label is a shared ideology among its artists, with Eckardt quick to articulate that this is just as important as their creative output. "We work with bands we have a real personal affinity with. It’s not just the music, I have to really respect the people. That's what makes it all so much more special. Every time I get an email seeing something of another band’s sold, I get so excited.
 
“It's incredible that someone else is sitting at home listening to the music I love. The other day Gnohms told me before they started working with us that they always struggled to figure out where they fit in the music scene. That definitely means a lot."
 
Unlike most other record labels, Psychic Hysteria have placed a particular focus on putting out zines, with Eckardt explaining that the idea to release written work was initially spearheaded by his Sydney counterpart Hon Boey. "Hon's super into zine culture and as a result he got me pretty interested in it as well. Before he was involved with the label he wanted to put a book out through us. I’d just done my album and I’d never really thought about doing something other than records. He was like, ‘If you’ve got a website and you’re paying for that hosting, why not broaden it?' It was his idea but I was really excited by it because it meant that it wasn’t just me talking about myself."
 
Eckardt is also clear that he never wants to steer creatives on the label in a specific direction, instead prioritising their right to be in control of their art. "We both do photos for a lot of the bands and Kalindy also does a lot of artwork too. We bounce a lot of ideas off bands but we would never make a decision on their behalf. That just seems totally logical to me."
 
At the heart of Psychic Hysteria is a DIY spirit that makes everything that comes out of the label possible. "I think that for a lot of places in the world, DIY is a necessity because of a lack of money, or due to cultural or community influences," muses Eckardt.
 
Williams continues, "I think a lot of people just feel like they can’t do things creatively if they don’t have money. I think that DIY culture really opens things up and allows people to help each other to make things happen. You don’t need to be rich to do this stuff but it’s good to have a community around you that can help.”

Psychic Hysteria will take over Grace Darling on Saturday October 21 with Piss Factory, Plaster of Paris, Pearl Bay, Wars, and more.