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Friday, April 1, 2011

Cassette tape philosophy 101 with Amanda Morelli of the Clap

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The Clap "Juvenile"


Mood Rings "Year of Dream”


Red Sea “In Shape”


Shepherds "The Drag"
The Clap, Mood Rings, Red Sea and Shepherds all celebrate the release of brand-new cassettes via local label Pink House Tapes tonight (Fri., April 1) at Noni's. It'll be a night of ghostly punk, noisy ambiance, damaged pop, and arty, funky soul-punk, but probably not in that order. The show is free and the music starts around 9 p.m.

Chad Radford: Who are you?

Amanda Morelli: My name is Amanda Morelli and I play bass for the Clap.

You’re also one of the people behind Pink House Tapes. Who’s the real brain behind the label?

Tyler Walters, but I don’t think he wants to be thought of as the one who’s in charge.

There’s a whole crew at work behind the label that consists of…

Well, there’s me and Tyler, Josh Hughes, Sam Wagstaff, William Fussell and Stephen Luscre.

We have been casually releasing things for bands on tour for a while, but we’re about to have our first big release of music that will be for sale and in the ether. It’s a box set with four tapes: Shepherds (Holy Stain), Mood Rings (Sweater Weather Forever), the Clap (the “Juvenile” cassingle) and Red Sea (Weird Problem).

We’ve done tapes for Mood Rings, the Husseins, and we’ve done tapes for ourselves, obviously. Technically the Clap’s Spider House 5 was our release as well even though it’s not a tape.

Spider House 5 and Pink House both take their names from the house where Josh and Sam live, right?

Yes, which is pink.

…and apparently has a spider problem?

Yes, it’s a recurring Brown Recluse infestation, which is pretty much the most terrifying thing I’ve ever heard of. It’s like living with a serial killer. They’re so awful, and for a while they saved a bunch of them in a jar to test their Brown Reclusiveness, before they had an exterminator come to the house. It’s like the most dangerous spider you could possibly live with. They mostly come out during the summer.

The exterminator didn’t work?

It worked for about a week, but the guys who live there would still go out where there’s a flood light shining on the side of the house and they would take shoes with them and just squish spiders all night.

Has anyone who lives there ever been bitten?

No, which is a testament to those boys’ charisma and luck, considering how they live. They’re free spirits and they walk around without shoes on their feet, and I guess nothing has happened because they’re good people and the universe is smiling on them.

So why do you release cassette tapes?

From a sociological standpoint you have two things: You have the media and you have music that you purchase — what Benjamin referred to as the aura of the object…

I don’t know how many Crib Notes readers are going to know who Walter Benjamin was, unless they’re taking photography and/or philosophy classes.

Well, that’s where I’m coming from because it’s exactly what he described. You can have a scanned image of a painting that you really like, or you can have the actual painting. The only reason you want the object is because you have a tactile relationship with it. You like putting the needle on the record and hearing the scratch of the vinyl, and you like the fact that it wears a little bit and you have to take care of it. It’s cherished and there’s ceremony involved. It’s like that with tapes too. It reminds us of being kids — at least our generation — we like the weird clacking noise it makes when you push it in, it’s sturdy and it sounds nice. You get to rewind them.

You get to take reflect on the music while you’re rewinding…

Right, and CDs are a cheap and easy way of transporting media. Ultimately, people want a CD so they can make a mp3 out of it and put it on their computer. That’s what I want: I either want an object that represents the music so well that I want to keep it, or I just want a mp3 of like a Ke$ha song that I can listen to and after 5 seconds it will go away.

As a label, putting out cassettes is cheap. Putting out CDs is cheap too, but putting out cassettes is cheap and lovely. It’s an easy way of disseminating music, but it calls attention to the music and makes it matter a little more. People made this and they worked hard to do it, maybe they did it against their better judgments, and against the inclinations of their families, and against the ideas of what society says you should or should not be doing. People worked hard to make this music and now they want to give it to you on a format that reminds you of when you were a kid. It makes you feel good. People care about that sort of thing.

What’s the average run going to be with a cassette title on Pink House?

We’re doing 100 of the box sets right now. The band gets a cut and we will have 50 of them for sale at the show. We’ll try to get the rest of them out to distributors, but we want to keep them kind of limited. The other thing about having an object is that you want it to be special and if there are thirty bajillion of them out there they won’t be very special. People who just want the Band Camp Downloads will go to Band Camp and get them.

So the object is available to the masses, but it’s not mass marketing, at least not on the label’s part.

It’s complimentary to mass marketing, which is great. I think it’s great that you can put your music out there and anyone who wants it can just go get it. But this isn’t entirely about the music. It’s about calling attention to the efforts of people making things that you want to hold onto.

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