November 14th, 2013 by Amelia
I found a mix tape in the free box at the MRR HQ with my old band on it and a few other East Coast punk acts mixed with a lot of bands I had never heard of. One of the mystery bands was MARGY PEPPER who play dark pop from Olympia. The song was dubbed off a tape put out by Lost Sound Tapes…so I thought I’d find out more about Lost Sound Tapes for all you out in analog land.
How did you start Lost Sound Tapes?
I started Lost Sound Tapes in 2005 as an outlet for the songs I was writing under the name BLANKET TRUTH. I purchased 100 blank white cassette tapes online and then started dubbing them on a boombox. Over the years, Lost Sound Tapes has gone from an outlet for my own band to a full-fledged record label with 55 releases and counting from bands across the United States, five from Canada, and one from Brazil.
Is the name a reference to anything?
The concept of found sound was really appealing to me when I was thinking of starting a tape label. In my flawed logic, I figured if found sound is something you stumble across, almost on accident, then lost sound would be the stuff you really have to look for. I’ve had no delusions over the years about this label being well known.
What was the first tape you released?
The first tape I released was the demo tape for my band BLANKET TRUTH. It came in a hand sewn floral pouch with the band name stenciled on the tape.
How has cassette form been important to you?
The cassette tape has been part of the label ever since its inception. I figured that since I was recording onto cassette tapes with boomboxes, I might as well keep the format the same while sharing the music with other people.
Why cassette over any other medium?
I grew up with cassette tapes and figuring out how to make them at home was a eureka moment for me. My brother taught me the art of the mixtape in the ’90s and I was addicted to the satisfaction of immediacy that homemade tapes provide. Cassette tapes are special because not only are they one of the smallest physical music formats, they also hold the most content. They are the only format that can hold up 120 minutes of music and fit in your pocket. Not to mention that the playback is linear. The lack of ability to skip tracks lends to a more intimate listening experience.
Anything specific type of music you mostly focus on?
I focus on underrepresented music. It could be indie pop, folk, punk, or hip hop as long as it is made with lots of heart.
Are you Northwest-centric?
Absolutely! I’ve lived in Seattle for ten years and Vancouver, BC, for one year. About two-thirds of our releases feature bands from Cascadia and another ten from California. I’ve lived my whole life on the West Coast, starting in Southern California, and have been heavily involved with booking shows in the Northwest for 10+ years. Northwesterners are very environmentally conscious and I do my best to use renewable and recycled materials that have the smallest impact on the earth. It’s something I take pride in.
Be good and make quality objects.
What was the scene like when you were coming up?
I grew up in a southern Californian suburb called Thousand Oaks. There was lots of bad BLINK 182-style pop punk and generic indie rock. However there were also a few great bands that came out of there: LITTLE WINGS, STRIFE, RESPIRA, and WATERCOLOR PAINTINGS. All four are very different but all great. The first two came about 10–15 years before the latter two. It seems like the town is good for a solid band or two per decade.
What was your first underground tape?
I think it was Turn of the Century Photograph by CHARLIE McALISTER — the legendary weirdo from Charleston, SC — on Unread Records.
Did you model your label after a specific label?
Unread Records was my first and biggest inspiration. Their Xerox aesthetic really appealed to me and their typewritten, pastel colored tape labels. They released a ton of different music, mostly homemade, and everything I heard was bizarre and wonderful. Music that you wouldn’t find otherwise. Black Bean And Placenta Tape Club was another inspiration, they were another label that released a ton of homemade and bizarre music. Their construction paper record covers are unmistakable. The goal is to make great cassette tapes. It doesn’t always mean they are high fidelity, but they are well made with high quality materials.
What’s your advice to others who want to get in the game?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you are able to create a cassette tape with good audio quality and a non-pixelated cover, you’ll be significantly ahead of the pack.
What companies do you use?
I’ve gone through lots of different companies throughout the last eight years. My best advice is to find someone who makes good cassette tapes near you and ask them who they use. If at all possible, support local businesses!
How is doing this rewarding?
I love seeing projects come together from the ground up! The gratitude that I receive from the bands I work with is incredibly rewarding and I want to do everything in my power to support the creative people around me.
How is it frustrating? Besides the ever rising postal costs…
As much as I love creative people they can be hard to wrangle sometimes! Also, sometimes you release a really amazing album by an unknown band and it doesn’t really catch on. That’s a little frustrating but just because you want everyone to love it as much as you do. (Shout out to the NOD AND THE HOB GOBLINS tape).
What was your last release?
I usually release cassette tapes two or three at a time. However, the last one was the SHAWN MRAZEK LIVES! “Thought He Was Dead” cassette tape. The band leader, Shawn Mrazek, is the best drummer in Vancouver, BC, and happens to play in Nardwuar’s band, THE EVAPORATORS. When they play live, the band features Rose Melberg, Adrian Teacher, and Hayz Fisher.
Any upcoming releases?
Late November we’ll be releasing the cassette editions of the brand new full-length albums by WATERCOLOR PAINTINGS (LP edition on Plan-It-X), DOGBRETH (LP edition on Plan-It-X), and PARASOL (LP co-released by Nervous Nelly, Square Of Opposition, and Lauren Records).
This playlist on SoundCloud features a song from every tape we’ve released so far this year as well as a track each from the three upcoming tapes.
Also coming in November is a series of package deals called “Hippo’s Fun Paks.” My neighbor, Hippo, had a really great idea to sell a bunch of tapes together for a low, low price. He’s always had good ideas before so I figured we could give it a try!
Any last words?
Be good and make quality objects.