Bad Cake Records
Misfit, non-elitist cassette label with no set aesthetic.
See also: Tabs Out
What made you start a label?
First and foremost, I started Bad Cake so I could give my friends and myself a platform in which to catalogue our musical projects. Before moving to Minnesota, I lived in Lincoln, Nebraska for six years, where I was a small part of a passionate underground DIY music scene. My time there had a profound impact on my approach to music — mostly thanks to my swell group of talented friends — so I created Bad Cake as a sort of lasting testament to our collective musical endeavors. Secondly, I wanted to reach out to other artists all around the world who I feel share the same ideals and give their albums a home as well. Why stop with my immediate friends?
What are some of the challenges you see as a label owner?
The biggest challenge, for me personally, is building a responsive audience while operating in a semi-rural area. So far, Bad Cake has relied solely on the Internet to disseminate music. Sure, it’s easy to procure likes on Instagram or Twitter or what-have-you, but it’s another thing to actually entice people to purchase cassettes. And don’t get me wrong — I’m not in this for money. Breaking even with releases is all I ever hope for.
It’s just a sad, heavy feeling to know that an artist has put his/her trust in you to properly disseminate his/her music and you can’t get more than a handful of people to support their work. You want the music to just speak for itself –but in today’s world where attention spans are as short as a Robot Chicken sketch and most people would rather spend $7 on a Caramel Machiatto instead of a cassette, it’s just wishful thinking in the end. Hopefully, when I move to a bigger city this problem will work itself out. Physical media such as cassettes sell best in dark basements and beer gardens.
What is your take on Spotify and streaming services?
Is it weird that I’ve never used Spotify once in my entire life? I kind of forget that it exists honestly. I’m well aware of the debate — thanks to Thom Yorke and those who stand staunchly against it. I guess my bottom line is: don’t use it if you don’t want to use it. I wish they would do away with the Grammy’s, but they never will.
You can stream on Bandcamp and Soundcloud (both of which have fairly functional apps–Bancamp’s being better of course), and if you’re releasing weird music like Hausu Mountain or Orange Milk or Null Zone or Orb Tapes, I don’t see what good Spotify is going to do you anyway. Your target audience probably hates Spotify or the typical streaming services.
That’s part of the charm of the little world of DIY cassette labels; it’s music you have to seek out and actively listen to. The music we release isn’t meant to be streamed in the background at a coffee house. It’s meant to be listened to with headphones on in a dark room or on a long drive. It’s meant to be heard — not used as an auditory decoration.
So I guess I’m not a Spotify person. Support Bandcamp by streaming on Bandcamp. BC is where it’s at.
Is there a specific focus as far as genres or local/regional aspect of music you’re releasing?
I try not to adhere to any one genre/sub-genre. So far, I’ve released experimental electronic music, anti-folk/outsider-folk, improvisational noise rock, lo-fi soundtrack music, and some other stuff in between. Ultimately, I just want to stay away from music that is written/recorded with an objective other than self-satisfaction. I want every artist I work with to have the same philosophy as Foodman (Orange Milk Records): “I like that state of fun. I produce in the hope that I get that joy myself again and again rather than getting my music heard by somebody. So what I care about most is whether or not I am having fun.”
Do you believe that music could bring about social change?
These days, I’m a little pessimistic about social change. We need it now more than ever before in the history of modern civilization. Music, especially “popular” music (I hate that term, but you know what I mean) used to have much more sway when it was more of a novelty. In the 60s/70s, it was a new idea to use music as a tool for disseminating radical ideas and exerting societal pressure over the powers that be. Some of those counter-culture figures used to scare the living shit out of the U.S. Government (like John Lennon/Yoko Ono or Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane).
It’s just not like that anymore. Those figures were forces to be reckoned with because they were the only citizens who had platforms in which to profess their ideas. Now, most everyone has the Internet and social media — anyone from Catholic priests to Neo-Nazis. And all of these people can find an audience of some kind. Everyone has a platform. It’s depressing, scary, exciting, amazing, and everything in between. So, ultimately I don’t think music is as effective as it used to be when it comes to affecting social change. This isn’t to say that music isn’t powerful. I just think that we, as a species, are completely overloaded with information and opinions as it is.
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