Wasted Tapes, of Cincinnati, Ohio, is a label that caught my attention early into the shutdowns this year. Their band The Serfs quickly became a quarantine favorite of mine alongside PC World and Crime of Passing. Read my conversation with the founder, Dakota Carlyle, below and check out his list of music recommendations below!
When was Wasted Tapes founded? Do you consider it a label with signed bands, a community co-op, or a healthy mixture of both?
Wasted Tapes was officially started in 2017. The first couple years of operation were not quite as focused as they are now. I’d call it a co-op at this point. Most bands on the label share some or all the same members, and no one is bound to any sort of contract. The bands I’m not directly involved in, like PC World from London, worked with the label on grounds of mutual musical respect and my fandom for them.
Do you have a blog or someplace we can read reviews/premieres of yours and other local artists?
Nothing on our end at the moment. The folks at Ears To Feed have been kind enough to do a few premiers for us, and of course Harakiri Diat has been very helpful for getting the word out. Keep an eye out for a new website & distro soon. I usually just put the work into the world and see what happens.
What does DIY music look like in Cincinnati, and Ohio overall? Are there many house/underground venues or is it mostly centered around bars and small to mid-sized venues?
I can’t speak for Cincinnati DIY as a whole, only for myself and those frequently involved with the label, but I’d say our whole process is immersive. We usually engineer and mix the records ourselves, as well as handle a majority of the art, manufacturing and distribution. We all live in places with studios. We have fun with it. Mostly bar venues. The DIY spaces are few and far between in Cincinnati at the moment. It’s a bummer. You often trade in that primal excitement for the convenience of the bar.
How do you think the pandemic is changing that? I’ve heard a lot of stipulations that if many of the smaller/mid-sized venues close it will force music underground, what do you think the benefits of that could be? Drawbacks?
Well, on a local level most of the venues seem to be holding up regardless of all the hits they have taken recently. I have it in my head that Cincinnati will have a new golden age, as it’s population might make it easier for venues to feel comfortable opening their doors again. At least maybe sooner than somewhere like NYC. I think if things were to go more underground, that would ultimately be positive. It would at least be more thrilling. I think it gets complicated when you get to the ethical side of it amidst the pandemic. Who are you excluding? Do you force people to wear a mask? How do you do that? How dangerous is this? I’ve really been missing it, but it’s still too early and complicated to call where it’s headed.
Tell us about your band The Serfs, who are your influences and where have y’all played your favorite shows?
The Serfs is a musical group. There are three of us and often a fourth who performs without instruments. We are influenced by everything we’ve ever liked in movies, books and music. Cabaret Voltaire, Kraftwerk, and all the obscure european post-punk you can handle. We’ve played just under ten shows at the moment. We were supposed to tour Europe this past spring, but no need to mention why that didn’t happen. Probably the “Sounds of Serfdom” release show this past January. Bruised from Chicago played and so did our friends Black Planet.
How did Wasted Tapes and Detriti Records in Berlin come to form your current working relationship? Do you each put out each other’s music in your respective countries?
We work with Detriti because of The Serfs. Davide, who runs Detriti, understood what we valued in music and what the intent of The Serfs is. I haven’t released anything else from their catalog, but always open to it. Lots of solid music.
How does the DIY scene in Berlin compare to Cincinnati?
I’ve only spent the better part of a week in Berlin. We were supposed to play at Berghain in May (that cancellation hurt). The last time I was there I felt immediately at home for whatever that is worth. Berlin has at least ten times the population of Cincinnati, so they are drastically different environments. I love it there though. It’s a really special place and so Cincinnati.
How do you think Europe benefits from exposure to music from the Midwest?
I hear a lot of the midwest-coneheads-punk sound coming from bands over there. You might have to ask Europeans on this one.
Do you do US releases of music from other labels in more countries? What are some other international labels we should be looking into?
Most of what we do comes from Cincinnati and everything else I have reached out to the bands personally out fandom. I’m always open to establishing those relationships with labels I dig though. In the states Chicago Research, Torn Light, 11pm and Dream Recordings. Internationally, Detriti, Erste Theke Tontrager, Urticaria, Gob Nation, Alter, Third Coming and Antifade.
Who are some local musicians in your area we should be keeping our eyes on? Internationally?
New albums from The Serfs & Crime of Passing soon. Other than that Fruit Loops, La Punta Bianca, Kneeling in Piss, Otchim, Civic Center, Termination, Anytime Cowboy, The Cowboys, Conjunto Primitivo, PC World, S. Product, Club Music, Red Tunic, Smut, Sorry Eric, Cindy, Special Interest, RIKI, Vacant Stares, Aurat, Sweeping Promises, Maufrais...