DIY student record label Porchfire Records aims to expand Austin music scene

Carlie Whisman

From the outside, nothing marks the Porchfire House in West Campus as any different than the student housing it’s surrounded by. 

On the inside, it’s a student run record label. 

Austin’s do-it-yourself music scene was the inspiration behind Porchfire Records, a music label and media organization aimed at giving up-and-coming artists unlimited autonomy. 

Porchfire was started in 2017 by arts and entertainment technologies senior Ally Brown and four other UT students. Brown said she saw an opportunity to start a record label when she began booking shows at Eden Co-op her sophomore year. 

A musician herself, Brown said Austin’s DIY community and her love of autonomous punk bands are what moved her to start an independent label. 

“TC Superstar was the first band we started working with,” Brown said. “They told me they were looking for a label to help them and I had wanted to start one, it happened just like that.”

Now Porchfire has six local bands under their name, including Brown’s own band Merry Jane & The Fondas. 

Although Porchfire is a label, crew member Skyler Frost also describes them as a music-based media production company. From booking to producing, Porchfire provides artists with more than just representation.

“What we focus on most is live event production,” said Frost, a radio-television-film senior. 

The label hosts donation-based concerts in crew member Will Clark’s house, called the Porchfire House, and at local venues like Hotel Vegas and Swan Dive. Across campus in Frost’s living room, they record Transient Sessions, which are live music sessions they later upload to YouTube.

Sticking with their DIY roots, Porchfire’s production is completely independent. 

“We’ve been doing shows for over a year now without any outside intervention or sponsorships,” Frost said.

With a recording space and the technology to master full-length albums and produce live events, Porchfire offers services to bands outside their organization as well.

“(We’re) like an a la carte label,” Frost said. “A band comes to us and says they need live sessions and tour booking, we’ll do that. If they want live sessions and no tours, that’s okay. The bands can pick what they want.”

Brown said Porchfire is meant to be an inclusive space for all artists to express themselves.  

“We want Porchfire to be a platform where people can put out their art and it can be accessible to people, (with) no limitations to what the art is,” Brown said. “Our main goal is just to support live music.” 

Clark, radio-television-film senior, said the crew’s basis of friendship and shared love of music encourages a collaborative effort between them. 

“We all do a little bit of everything,” Clark said. “That’s part of what makes us DIY.”

The Porchfire crew plans to carry on business after they graduate, with goals to collaborate with other DIY organizations in Austin and expand their label to new artists. 

“We want to keep everything as organic as possible,” Frost said. “Our goal is to keep it word of mouth and truly DIY.”