In any city if you look hard enough, you’re likely to find little pockets of creativity — people doing cool things, and the places in which they live, work, hang out.
But it’s often hidden, a secret only known by a handful of locals who don’t necessarily want to share. More so than any other place I’ve been, Austin is a city that seems to nurture creativity. It’s brimming with ideas and innovation and people who want to share their talents with others, creating an interconnectedness within the city that is really wonderful to be a part of. I was first introduced to Studium when I was meeting a friend at Brew & Brew, the coffee shop next door that uses Studium’s space as overflow seating. I couldn’t stop ogling the beautiful space around me, full of natural light from an open garage door, white brick walls, stocked with records, books, ceramics, and vintage. I found myself back there a few days later for a pop-up shop featuring the work of some of Austin’s best local makers. This is what I love so much about this city – the spaces like this that bring people together, a crowd of creative doers, makers, thinkers, who feed off each other’s creativity and work together. Read on for an interview with the man behind Studium, Dan Ruddman and to see more photos of this gorgeous space.
What inspired you to open Studium?
The most enjoyable aspect of running a record label is the opportunity to convene with brilliant and rigorous folks — artists, intellectuals, music lovers. I wanted to open Studium as a space to proliferate those interactions in Austin, TX. Here people can get together and drum up a new project, share work through performance, or discover an object that someone else nearby produced. I think that we are at our best together, and the more opportunity for that, the better.
Taking that impetus for collaboration further, it made sense to house multiple organizations under one roof. The boutique, Byron & Blue, curates handmade and vintage goods from independent makers, the perfect counterpart to Punctum’s retail for books and records. Our adjoining coffee shop/craft beer house, The Brew & Brew, promotes the notion that this is a space in which people should tarry. The custom leatherwork done by Stowe Provisions in their studio is emblematic of Austin. And the music education programs run by the non-profit Attendance Records compliments our overall mission as a place for community.
Austin, TX is filled with infinitely supportive, collaborative, and welcoming people. We made Studium to reflect everything we love about this place.
Tell me about Punctum Records & Books.
Punctum Books is an academic and critical theory press that specializes in writing that is experimental and risk-taking, promoting what we call “spontaneous acts of scholarly combustion.” Spearheaded by Eileen Joy, we published over 115 titles in the last three years by astonishing writers and artists such as Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Lauren Berlant, and Marina Zurkow. Working as an editor at Punctum a few years back, Eileen and I began discussing the possibility of applying our same approach to the publication of music.
We started Punctum Records in 2013 as a non-profit vinyl-focused publisher of music and experimental sound. Our artists are based in Austin, New York, Canada, the UK, and Europe and run the gamut genre-wise from folk and psychedelic rock to the avant-garde. In making records, throwing events in different parts of the US, and planting a flag in the ground at Studium, we are working to collectively support artists and find new ways to make the music community more sustainable.
What are 3 of your favorite records and or books in the shop right now?
Groove Redundant, the just-released debut LP by TAFT, is at the top of the list. This Brooklyn-by-Austin art-rock quintet makes songs that are at once joyful and contemplative. The record is full of life in every aspect — songwriting, instrumentation and production, and even album art.
The Funambulist Pamphlets are a series of short works by Paris-based architect and theorist Léopold Lambert. Covering topics from the Occupy Movement to Foucault to Science Fiction, Léopold writes with engaged enthusiasm and immediacy, underscoring the importance of critical reflection in our time.
Another Thought is a beautiful double LP collection of Arthur Russell’s compositions. His songs are enveloping, so it’s particularly nice to have such a large collection of his music in one release.
As a bonus – I am in love with all the books we carry in the shop from Univocal Publishing. Not only is it a thorough collection of well translated writing from thinkers and poets like Laruelle, Balso, and Serres, but the gorgeously designed letterpress covers are stunning.
Besides Studium, what are some of your favorite places to hang out in Austin?
I’m usually at Mohawk and Cheer Up Charlie’s, neighboring music venues on Red River. Both are welcoming and relaxed, filled with bands that play sincere, heart-filled music.
And nothing in town beats Barton Springs for a good swim day or night — preferably night.
Any cool upcoming events at the space that you can tell us about?
Ryan Sambol is performing for a second time in Studium on February 20th with Julia Lucille and Country Willie. Ryan’s music has always been revelatory, but what he’s doing now, which is particularly apparent in an intimate place like Studium, is on a whole new trajectory.
Throughout the day on Saturday, February 21st, Studium will host an incredible collection of jazz musicians and improvisers from around the world as part of the No Idea Festival with label Astral Spirits. This will be a one-of-a-kind event, bringing together folks from far flung regions who have never played together before. Plus, we’re serving brunch! With combinations like this, you can see that collaboration continues to be a running theme through the development of Studium.