Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Jul 29th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Ace of Tapes

music_1019RecordsThe medium is the message at 1019 Records

Compared to the space age techno-wizardry of the iPod, my Sony Walkman is the portable music equivalent of a Model-T Ford. It's so clunky that it features a belt clasp, as there's no way you're going to fit the plastic behemoth in any reasonably sized pocket. To give you an idea of its approximate value, I received it for free in exchange for donating blood, which my body produces at zero cost to me. Despite all this, Santa Cruz soundsmith Cole Willsea regularly releases and sells new music exclusively on cassette tapes through his label, 1019 Records. And he's not the only one.

"As it turns out, there are a good number of tape labels around these days," Willsea says. "There's one in Canada called Scotch Tapes that puts out hundreds of tapes on a weekly basis, and they often sell out within days. A dude makes his living that way."

Willsea might not be ready to quit his day job just yet, but there's good reason to believe that his unorthodox business model has some traction. "Each tape is so cheap to produce that if I sold 'em for a buck each, I'd still be making enough profit for more tapes," the 23-year-old UC Santa Cruz grad explains. "I've managed to break even, and I still have loads of tapes to sell."

While instantaneous on-demand music has become the norm, part of the appeal of 1019 Records—named after 1019 Broadway in Santa Cruz, the cozy cottage where Willsea's lived for the past five years—is the humility of the medium itself. Instead of a flawless digital stream of ones and zeroes, the sound quality is imperfect; the fidelity is thinner, subject to the temperament of the tape-twirling motor. For music fans accustomed to navigating graphical submenus to find exactly what they want to hear the moment they want to hear it, rewinding and fast-forwarding a cassette (or otherwise listening to the entire album end-to-end) is cumbersome. And yet Willsea, along with the people buying his tapes, find this consumer anachronism quite charming.

Like jazz fans entranced by restraint, 1019 listeners hear what they want in the lo-fi hiss. Willsea says he's "really interested in sound as texture, the way that abstract art reflects what is commonly accepted as fine art or popular art." Then, while handing me a copy of Anomie's d.,.b, the first release to come out of the Broadway bedroom about a year ago, he adds with a laugh, "Truthfully, I'm kind of incapable of making normal music."

With the demise of said band, in which Cole used a sequencer to arrange droning guitar feedback and found sounds, the soft-spoken musician immediately started numerous projects with like-minded locals. In an effort to consolidate his and his friends' endeavors under a common name, 1019 Records was born.

Since then, the label has blossomed, offering more than 30 albums from locals like The Groggs, Young Fiction, and Willsea's own Palm Yard, as well as distributing international artists such as Sweden's Roundabout. Willsea also designs the packaging for each release, literally stitching together scraps of paper, cloth, and decomposing National Geographic magazines into the visual analogue of the 1019 catalog. "I just like making stuff with my hands," Willsea smiles.

So much so, that he already has a handful of new cassettes to release in 2010, including output from members of Santa Cruz faves Man/Miracle and Room For A Ghost. "I'd like to keep doing splits with two bands per tape," the young artist states. "The more people you have associated with each release, the more people will hear it, which fosters new collaborations and relationships between musicians and fans."

While the zombified corpse of the old music industry groans about piracy, Willsea's sales are picking up, perhaps because 1019 points toward a future where music is less about money and more about friendship and fun. "At some point enough people had seen the 1019 website and heard the music, that folks from out of town were asking me about putting out a tape for them," Willsea says. "In fact, oftentimes someone will purchase a tape simply to start a conversation about their own music."


To learn more about 1019 Records, go to 1019records.com or myspace.com/1019records.

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Binding of Edmund McMillen

How a Santa Cruz designer created one of the most unlikely hits in video game history

 

Sun in Leo, Rosy Star, Venus and Uranus Retrograde

Three major celestial events occur this week. Wednesday, the Sun enters Leo, highlighting the heart center of everyone. Leo is a sign of deep sensitivity (along with Cancer). Wednesday is also the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, one of the most misunderstood women in the Bible. Saturday, July 25, Venus turns stationary retrograde at 0 Virgo (progressed Regulus, the Law, Hall of Records). Venus retrogrades for 44 days and nights, forming one petal of a five-pointed rosy star (pentagram) in the sky (five retrogrades over eight years = star). Venus retrograde turns values upside down. Our usual sense of beauty, values, the real price of things, relationships—all turn into a bundle of confusion. We don’t seem to know anything. Luxury goods are mispriced, values are jumbled, we wonder who that person is we’re in relationship with. We don’t know where our money is or where it’s gone. Venus, in daily life, represents values (resources, money, possessions and quality of relationships). Venus retrograde asks, “What do I value?” Venus retrograde puts us in touch with what has changed and what is truly of value in our lives. Venus retrogrades from 0 Virgo to 14 degrees Leo (July 25-Sept. 6). Leo is about the self and our creativity, which is how we come to know and value ourselves. We “know ourselves through what we create.” In Venus (values) retrograde (inner focus) we will ask, “What are values (not just money and finances)? What are my values? What do I create? How do I value my creations? Do I value myself?” Sunday, Uranus—planet of all things new, revelatory and revolutionary—also retrogrades (from 20 to 16 degrees Aries) until the full moon of Christmas Day. Five months of Uranus retrograde. In July and continuing on through the following months we have many planets retrograding. Things therefore slow down. Everyone’s focus becomes subjective, hidden by veils and curtains. A time when inner reserves of strength are available. A time of protection.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 24

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

AJ’s Market

Local cult fave keeps getting bigger and better

 

What do you think of Bernie Sanders?

He’s what we need, more hardcore Democrats. Old-school, ’70s-style Democrats. Tony Dolan, Santa Cruz, Freelancer

 

Hunter Hill Vineyards & Winery

Calling all Merlot lovers—Hunter Hill has released its 2013 estate Merlot ($25)—and a superb one it is, too.

 

Turn Up the Beet

Golden beets with buffalo mozzarella, plus single-malt whiskies and award-winning local Chardonnays