I hope your stick-shaking arm is good and rested, because R. Stevie Moore’s got a brand new tape of even more songs coming out pretty soon. You heard me right, a tape. Turns out the dude actually hasn’t released a cassette in 25 whole years, but this fellah who lives in Sweden finally talked him into it, which makes me wonder how resistant to peer pressure our pal R. Stevie really is. If everybody else jumped off a bridge and into a swirling sea that consisted only of watered-down peanut butter, would you just follow along, Mr. Moore? Think hard on that one because it’s a serious question and not in the least an attempt at absurd humor.
Anyway, the tape is called In the History of Ever and it collects 18 songs spanning all the way from 1969 to 2013. It’s out November 29 on a brand-spanking new tape label out of Sweden called Oma333, and it’ll only be available in a limited run of 333. You can buy it here. Also, get this: because it turns out that we, Tiny Mix Tapes, actually are the prettiest girl at the prom, we get the unique little privilege of being the first folks to embed the video for the track “I’m Dancing” on our website! Whaaaaatt??? The track features Moore whispering vocal-fried come-ons straight into your ear, and the Kevin Luna-directed video has a little dog in a sweater and a kid making some questionable questions vis-à-vis lung health. If you’re into that (and, honestly, who isn’t?) check it out below:
But wait, because if you let capitalism run wild for long enough, the world starts to imitate infomercials, THERE’S MORE! In addition to the R. Stevie Moore tape, Oma333 has two additional releases slated as a way of inaugurating itself into existence, both of which will be limited to 99 copies. The first is from Gabo and the Wartels, a group who describes themselves as “a marching band somewhere between Suicide and LA Law,” which I think is an oblique way of saying they use saxophones, trumpets, and even a bass clarinet. Their release is called In a Very Small Boat, and you can purchase it here, and watch the video for “Sleepy Head” below (directed yet again by Kevin “the busiest man in the Making Music Videos for Fledgling Tape Labels market” Luna). The third inaugural release is from Blood Music. Entitled Bits and Pieces for Aunts n Nieces, the release collects actual bits and pieces the band put created between 2002 and 2012. Bits and pieces include but are not limited to: demos, alternate versions of songs, bits of dead skin, candy bar wrappers, candid pictures of someone’s dad. Buy it here, and check out the also-directed-by-Kevin-Luna-video for “Problematique” below.
Aaaaannnnddddd, in the interest of making this the longest news post ever, there’s EVEN MORE!! Below you can scope a cute lil’ Q&A with R. Stevie Moore in which he maybe calls you a hipster? Don’t take it personal though. If you’re a hipster, then I definitely am too. I mean I was the guy gumming up his inbox with the dorky “Q’s” that demanded these “A’s” in the first place anyway.
Since this is the first cassette release you’ve done in 25 years, I was wondering if you felt any resistance to returning to the format. The way the press materials describe it, it seems like you might have required a little talking in to it.
I currently have very little interest myself in using the tape format any longer, and I’m amused at its new hipster resurgence. Of all the many audio options, cassette seems the least appealing, on so many levels. So, I’m not really “returning” to it, just allowing someone else to issue my music this way. But I’ll never be doing that again for myself. I suppose this modern romance with cassettes is for young people who missed out on the original K7 revolution of the early 80’s. I don’t even have a deck anymore, just a cheap boombox.
How did you get connected with Oma333?
Met and befriended Gavin when I played Stockholm in 2012. He started his label and asked if I’d like to issue something. Voila!
What lead you to stop releasing on cassette in the first place? Was it just expediency — with the rise of CDs and all that — or was it something else?
Many reasons. Tape remains inferior, in sound quality, fragility and severe inconvenience accessing individual tracks quickly. I always loved the upgrade to CDR’s, which easily solves those 3 problems. Being able to record, compile & index homemade discs is like having your own record pressing plant in your own little makeshift studio. What could be better than that! They say CD’s are over, but I beg to differ. I do dig vinyl (again), but spindles of blank compact discs are my bag. And digital files are also very beneficial for me, both as artist and listener. I adored cassette’s appeal when it first exploded (again, one could now make and distribute their own music, in real time), but by now it’s an ancient annoyance, like antique tape reels or 8-track cartridges.
This release pulls together tracks from over 40 years. What was the selection process like on your end?
Selection was quick and quite easy; we didn’t belabor over what to include and what not to. It simply fell into place. There usually isn’t one given method of choosing tracks for an RSM compilation. I often have a big hand in deciding, but it varies, release to release. Much of the time there’s a reliance on picking material which has yet to be heavily anthologized already (if at all). There’s so much back catalogue available on demand, such a deep deep reservoir of still unheard classics. I am quite easy to please in the long run, without restrictions.
Did you attempt to do any sort of thematic shaping for the songs on this collection? If not, looking at them now as a final product, does any theme emerge from your perspective?
Not at all, no connective theme “shaped” here. It’s just random songs. Gavin [Maycroft, of Oma333] liked the old tracks I suggested, so they became the final listing (with a few minor changes and shifts in sequence). Not really as complicated as it seems. Far too much emphasis is always placed on over-analytical inquiries about “which came first? the words or music?” or “were you attempting to express any specific theme or concept?” or “what vibe are you truly trying to convey here?” I think you’ll find most albums are merely a hodge-podge bag of unrelated tracks, which can however unintentionally take on a whole unified statement to listeners.
I dig both extremes, but random shuffle can be delightful.
Some musicians don’t like to look back at their back catalog because they’ve got hang ups about how they sounded when they were less experienced. From interviews and the fact that you seem to be so comfortable with archival releases like these, it would seem that you aren’t quite as bothered by that. Is that the case? And if so, why do you think you’re more comfortable looking back over your discography?
I differ greatly from most who do hide and protect their embarrassing “baby pictures.” I openly accept and validate equally ALL of what I have ever recorded for 45 years, so there’s not a problem whatsoever. The early, elementary music works are fascinating, and as relevant to my oeuvre as my latest highest-fidelity fully-developed sessions. I never differentiate between the old and new, the good and bad, the worthy or discarded. I offer a complete lifetime of my diary of sound, and THAT’S what I favor… not the insistence of ranking my best all-time favorite songs, etc. blah blah blah…