2012 brought us a slew of cassette labels and at times it became hard to keep up with all of them. Regardless, the Iowa based label/collective known as Memory Network was one that grabbed my attention right from the beginning and because of that, I decided that they’d make a great choice for my first on deck label interview. This year is already looking to be a great one in music and if their recent releases are any indication, then I’m certain that Memory Network is going to be a small but definite contribution to that.
CR: For those who aren’t familiar with Memory Network, how would you describe the label?
Micah (M): A tightly-knit collective of artists working to help each other create and promote their work. It’s primarily focused on electronic music and it’s various sub-genres, but not limited by sound or scene. Doin’ it together.
Keith (K): There’s a little bit of everything; ambient, disco, synth-pop, left-field stuff. It’s kind of all over the map, but very much grounded in electronic-based music.
CR: How do you feel about cassette culture now vs a few decades ago?
Dustin (D): I guess I don’t know too much about the culture a few decades ago other than the cassette being a primary media format. The first album I owned was on a cassette tape, there were loads of them in my house growing up—they are aligned with fond memories.
M: Today the people who are buying and selling tapes are doing it deliberately. It makes sense: tapes are cheap and relatively easy to manufacture, so it’s possible for independent artists on a budget to produce physical copies of their work.
K: I just feel like it’s more of an experience than hitting a space bar and letting music just play endlessly. People want to get behind something outside of an MP3.
M: I’d rather pay $5 for a cassette than a digital download.
D: …or for both.
CR: What influenced you to start this label and what advice would you give to people looking to start one of their own?
D: Keith and I had just started running in the same circle and were both very near to finishing EPs. The idea just grew out of us discussing ways to beget something tangible. We put out both Cheap Frrrz and White Flashes and really just forgot about the whole label idea until we revisited it six months later and discovered that we had made some friends through networking our own projects who were interested in what we were doing.
K: It just seemed to make sense: nice people + no label = a chance to offer a helping hand. As far as advice, prepare and educate yourself. We’re still learning a whole lot about things and changing what we’re doing all the time. Lots of trial and error, for sure. When I say be prepared, be prepared mentally, financially…you’re going to be devoting lots of time to it, especially if you’re dubbing everything by hand. We try to have meetings to discuss what we want to do with releases, communication is key.
D: There are lots of great tape labels popping up, an explosion recently. It’s got a sort of a skewed local scene vibe, we are friendly with a bunch of them, we all support each other and want each other to find great music. I’ve learned the majority of what I know about running Memory Network through talking to other tape labels and seeing how they are doing things. At some point you figure out in what direction you want to nudge yours.
CR: Since all of these year end lists have been pouring out from over the internet during the last few weeks, name five of your favorite releases that made 2012 especially memorable for you.
K: The XX ‘Coexist’
The Chemical Brothers ‘Don’t Think’ (the accompanying DVD is incredible)
Michael Jackson ‘Bad: 25’
Burial ‘Kindred’ 12”
Maya Jane Coles ‘DJ Kicks’
M: Mount Eerie - Clear Moon
Whirr - Pipe Dreams
Port St. Willow - Holiday
Tamaryn - Tender New Signs
Lower Dens - Nootropics
D: Rustie - Essential Mix
Jessie Ware - Devotion
Scuba - Personality
Flashbulb Fires - Gasconader
Wild Nothing - Nocturne
CR: What’s in store for Memory Network in 2013?
D: We’re getting our ducks in a row for a digital singles club featuring some pretty cool folks, a host of standard releases including Jeremy Flood, White Flashes, and more. Moving into vinyl territory is always in the back of our minds and we’ve been talking about taking a showcase to some pretty sweet places as well.
K: Our big push is trying to get our new displays into retail shops around the area, getting our name and logo out there and recognizable. There’s going to be a change in how we produce our tapes so it’s a little less strenuous and more consistent. Getting our routine down to a science would be tremendously helpful!
Thanks to Dustin, Kevin, and Micah for the great answers. Head over to Memory Network’s website to check out more on White Flashes, MemCave, and the other great artists apart of the label. If you enjoy what you hear then don’t hesitate to show your support by grabbing a few tapes over on bandcamp for $5 each. Also, be sure to head over to Micah’s blog, $3.63, and surround yourself with more great gems on a weekly basis.