Circle of friends: I’m Trying Records is Winnipeg’s newest great label

Insert burning CD gag here: Will Jakobson, Corey Hykawy, Kevin Mozdzen and Ben Figler of I’m Trying Records relax in front of a fireplace. supplied

“They do everything. They do show booking, they’ll make posters, they’ll find bands to play and they’ll do stuff like drive me around. Basically anything I need help with.”

Local artist Micah Erenberg (Zoppa, Little House) explains what it’s like to be part of the I’m Trying Records family, though it still goes much deeper than any laundry list the label’s artists could give.

Officially born in March 2011, I’m Trying Records is the product of Kevin Mozdzen and Ben Figler, two local music-loving friends turned business associates thanks to working one too many mind-numbing hours together at a local construction job.

After realizing just how much great music their friends were making without any official label support, they made a move.

Now, the label includes acts such as Zoppa, The Hoots, A Waste Odyssey, Three Imaginary Boys and Little House.

While adding the word “business” to any sort of partnership could mean the end of a friendship, the opposite is true in the case of these two and team members Corey Hykawy and Bjorn William Jakobson.

“It has been easy keeping things very ‘friendly’ because we are all friends and have been for a long time, before the label was even thought of. Also, all the members of all the bands were originally friends before they were signed” explains Mozdzen.

“As for how we maintain that, I think it comes down to just being comfortable and trusting one another. The bands know we aren’t trying to make a quick buck off of their art; everyone has each other’s best interest in mind.”

The bands know we aren’t trying to make a quick buck off of their art; everyone has each other’s best interest in mind.

Kevin Mozdzen

Call it a bromance and the boys will likely agree, though something else they have to be on the same page about is the music.

“We are drawn to a variety of artists, as you can see from our roster. But the thing that they all have in common is an honest love for music, both in terms of creation and appreciation,” Mozdzen says. “We have never approached an artist because they are hyped or anything like that. We have to honestly enjoy their music and recognize that they enjoy creating it.”

Within all the peace, love, happiness and music is a whole lot of work. Along with the previously mentioned tasks, Mozdzen tacks on booking tours, setting up interviews, making videos, designing artist merchandise, hanging posters and more.

With those activities being a constant, the label’s main focus for the next six to eight months will be releasing albums from every act on their label.

With that, who else do I’m Trying Records dream adding to their roster?

“The Blisters. They are a great local band, they are amazing musicians and they are some of our best friends,” says Mozdzen. “Unfortunately, they got snatched up by Woven Records. (But) if I could work with anyone, it would definitely be The Blisters… or The Beatles. Either or.”

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Published in Volume 66, Number 9 of The Uniter (October 26, 2011)

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