Always Human Tapes prepares for its first showcase

Categories: New Releases
Courtesy of Always Human Tapes
Matthew MB self-titled cassette release

"Tapes move; they are real," says Always Human Tapes label artist Ian Lehman. "When I bought my first car, I had a high-end tape deck installed. I made mix tapes for the car all the time instead of always shuffling through CD's looking to hear a couple of songs." Indeed, it's hard to deny the nostalgic value and cultural relevance of the mix tape.

Still in its infancy, the Minneapolis-based Always Human Tapes label will be hosting its first label showcase at First Avenue this Thursday. Its creator Ryan Wurst is thrilled for the opportunity to bring the label's artistry to life in the form of live analog electronic performances accompanied by visual and video elements. "I feel so lucky that these people have put their trust in me," he says.

Courtesy of Always Human Tapes
Pleasurlife cassette release Useless

In today's digitally drenched music terrain, much of what we consume can easily be found on the internet for free. Keeping this in mind, Always Human Tapes offers its releases for free download online, and places its primary focus on the tangible real-world object used to convey the music itself. In seeking the cheapest, most effective way to create this physical object, Wurst settled on cassette tapes and VHS.

"For me, music is not just in the digital world, it also goes into real space," Wurst says. "I think a lot about the permeability of those spaces, and I spend so much time in my artistic practice on the computer and then in real space, and going in between, and I don't really see that much of a difference. Having a physical object, it becomes a lot about the object." While Wurst concurs that sound quality is compromised by releasing in cassette format, he compares the way that cassettes "fuck up sometimes" to the notion that in regards to music performance, "if you're in a real space, things get fucked up."

Wurst began learning about music at an early age, from parents who are both elementary school music teachers. In high school, he wanted to be a jazz drummer. He began to write his own music, and entered an undergraduate program with the intent of becoming a composer. After forming a friendship with one of his professors, Michael Theodore, Wurst began developing an interest in electronic music.


"People get really into one specific thing that they do in order to make things. I do that, but then I put a pseudonym on that way of making things and then move on," Wurst says. "In my undergrad there was so much talk of what your voice is as a composer. The academic composition world got really frustrating, and by the end I was just making noise in really nice concert halls." Eventually, frustrated by trying to find someone to release his work, he purchased a high-speed duplicator and a deck and began releasing music on his own -- and thus, Always Human Tapes was born.

In recruiting other artists to join the label, Wurst recalled playing a house party with Ian Lehman and Josh 'Heckadecimal,' two locally-based electronic music artists. At the party they had only spoken briefly, but he e-mailed the two of them that summer asking them to consider releasing their future work on his label. The crew has strikingly similar views on the importance of analog instrumentation.

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