Raw Paw – William Kauber
When we set up an interview with Raw Paw’s Will Kauber, we thought we were just talking to him about a zine. We hoped to learn what made a zine a zine and a little of what Will was up to pre-zine. We had no idea that what he was actually part of was much bigger than just Raw Paw’s collaborative publication. It’s a full-blown publishing house and record label with a history to which we’ll do our best to give justice. “We believe we’re going to change the world through print,” he said. We believe him, too.
To put it simply and honestly, Will inspired us. We left the interview with the realization that we’re way too young to sleep as much as we do. This guy, though, took virtual homelessness (damn bedbugs) and turned it into the most productive, rewarding venture of his life.
-Before we really get going, it’s important to mention that there are a ton of people behind Raw Paw’s greatness. This is just Will’s story. –
Will moved to Austin from the DFW area in 2009 to pursue writing and music. Instead, he got to Austin and found some pretty intense poverty and a whole lot of free time. “The year of my life before Raw Paw was tough but it was getting better,” he said. He worked random jobs and spent a good portion of his days endlessly writing poetry, smoking cigarettes and nursing one coffee at Quack’s. Romantic, right? In his words, he was a total “Hyde Park bum”, selling plasma on Airport for food money.
Will’s network grew over the next couple of years, and a community of artists, musicians and other uber-talents emerged. Their house became home to the poetry potlucks, art parties and shows that would eventually breathe life into Raw Paw. The house wasn’t just a meeting spot. It was as much a friend as the human friends who gathered there.
At the same time, another community was materializing around the Wardenclyffe Gallery, an ex-crack house turned talent hub run by two of Will’s close friends.
We can only imagine the energy that must have poured out of these places. They served as the breeding grounds for local musicians like Mother Falcon, Marmalakes and Little Lo. Everyone there was there to make things happen. And happen things did. We’re not just talking about poets and musicians, these kids were all over the map.
Raw Paw is only one of the many things that associates its’ humble beginnings with these places, and the first issue dropped in December of 2011. By that point, Will was working at Dolce Vita. “A lot of initial investments into Raw Paw came from tips of drunk people,” he said, “Remember, tip your bartender!” As Will reminisced, he pulled stacks on stacks on stacks of issues out of his backpack. He had a story about every issue and loves them all. I mean really, really loves them. “Every current issue is my favorite of course.”
Since issue one was released, their paper quality and printing methods have evolved tremendously. The hands that create it seem to be some of only a few common threads. From digital printing to offset and then investing in a Risograph Rz 220, it’s all about creating a product without breaking the bank or losing the integrity that defines Raw Paw’s zine. Everything they do – zines, records, comic collaborations, children’s books, everything – is done with veracity. Their work is pure and focused. “My favorite thing about this process is the joy and surprise of charting the progress of folks and friends.”
We got the impression that Raw Paw is in a pretty constant state of redefining itself, not because the vision is unclear, but because the people involved are seriously capable of anything. If they want to do it, they do it. It really is that simple. They’ve mastered collaboration, so there are no boundaries.
We can’t fully capture how impressive they are. Our writing isn’t that good, and there’s just too much to say about the crew behind Raw Paw and other affiliated entities. So we recommend taking advantage of the small world that is Austin, TX. Go find someone involved with Raw Paw or keep an eye out for the Dreamz issue that’s coming out in the Spring. Let Raw Paw and the people involved inspire the pants off of you.
Raw Paw-ers: Chris Dock Davis, Will Kauber, Jen Rachid, Clementine Kruczynski
Shout Outs: Talib Abdullahi, Baylor Estes, Kyle Carter, Montsho Jarreau Thoth, Adeleine Wildersmith, Caroline Yoder, Jono Foley, AJ Audain, Angie Calderon, Ian Rundell, Michael Tahmoressi, Zach Wasfi, Trevor Wermund, Paul Grant, Clyde Jones, D’Anna Siciliano and the 787xx staff, Jeff Olson, Ian Seyer, Mariah Stevens-Ross, Sarah Cuk, Rough House Crew: Alex Webb, Gillian Rhodes, Brendan Kiefer, Tyler Suder, Connor Shea and Doug Pollard