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Mondo.NYC Speaker

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Laura Ballance

Laura Ballance

President, Merge Records & Bass, Superchunk

Laura Ballance is co-founder of Merge Records and Superchunk. Merge and Superchunk both celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2019. Merge Records has been home to bands like Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Magnetic Fields, Spoon, Waxahatchee, Lambchop, Versus, King Khan & the Shrines, Fucked Up and the Mountain Goats to name a few. Superchunk has released eleven studio albums, most recently the critically acclaimed What a Time to Be Alive. Laura plays bass guitar in Superchunk but no longer performs live with the band due to hearing problems arising from overexposure to sound at high volumes. This has given her more time to pursue other interests such as political activism, making art, sewing and being a parent. She advises everyone to use earplugs at rock shows.

In 1989, the year of our founding, the Presidency of the United States of America was passed from Ronald Reagan to George H. W. Bush, the Berlin Wall was opened, pretty much no one had a cell phone, the world wide web was invented, and Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan went on a road trip and were inspired to start a record label. These were DIY times and it was clear that if you wanted to put out records you had to do it yourself. Starting a record label meant hand dubbing cassettes, typing and drawing, cutting and pasting, hand folding paper sleeves and stuffing them into cases. It meant recruiting band members and friends (one and the same) to come over and eat pizza and drink beer and help put things together on your sofa.