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M&E 25th Anniversary – The UWU Collection Release Weekend

Long before the internet, back in the 80s and 90s, there was an underground movement.

It was called The Cassette Movement and it was a network of musicians, radioshows, fanzines, live clubs, festivals, record labels and distributors being in touch like a community.

One of the main label/distributors in England was called Music & Elsewhere and the name of the man behind it was Mick Magic.

The label started in 1987 and as he says: It was “the label for bands who put their music before the money and their souls before the world…

A few months ago, Mick started working on a special Music & Elsewhere 25th Anniversary Collection titled “United World Underground Collection“.

It is presenting “key” releases of his 80s/90s distribution and it will be released with a weekend long online festivity with News, Pictures, Postings, Music, Videos, Freebies and Downloads.

Starts (and release time) at 16:00 UTC on Friday 13th October, finishes at 18:00 UTC on Sunday 15th at http://www.MickMagic.net -The World Clock: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/

The following is taken from Mick’s site:

GREETINGS…
And the day will come! Green for go, oh yeah, the first of the special M&E 25th Anniversary Collections will soon be with you, a little later than billed, but this is the underground, that’s the way it rolls. I actually started on this project back in January, and it’s probably taken up most of my spare time all year, but I have to say I’m really pleased with the end result, well worth the effort. Of course, it would have been out in the Summer if somebody hadn’t decided to break daddy’s hand, c’est la vie, we’ll let her out of the cellar soon, don’t worry. So, what’s in store with this magnificent collection? The Lightscribe finished data disc contains 30 albums, including several 25th anniversary specials, all in high quality 320kbps mp3 format (the ‘Decadion’ releases were only 128kbps, nobody complained but we wanted to make this really special), a further 4½ hours of bonus material, 4 books (PDF format) and a bonus CD (the original United World Underground compilation from 2001). The two disc set comes presented in a DVD style clear Amaray case, 33 hours of music in all, and plenty to read, including the 64 page illustrated booklet that accompanies the collection. When it came to the price, I wasn’t really sure what to do. If you make something too cheap, people might think it’s no good and shy away. But then if I’d priced something like this realistically, it would make it much less affordable, and I really want everyone who would like a copy to be able to have one. So I went with the wisdom of crowds and asked our supporters; “What do you think would be a fair price for a 25 album mp3 collection?” The average of all responses came back at £15.67, but I figured I could do better than that. So I added another five albums and rounded it down to £15, and I’m thinking I’ll probably make that a global ‘United World Underground’ price too, hopefully including P&P, see how the sums add up...”

The Artists:

ENGLAND – Magic Moments At Twilight Time & The Charles – “Mick & Chris On Acid… The Album!” (C-4005, 1987)

GERMANY, WEST & EAST – Lord Litter – “Torn Between Temptations” (M&E 012, 1992)

FRANCE – X Ray Pop – “Under My Skirt” (M&E 028, 1992)

SCOTLAND – Glass – “Glass Planet” (M&E 590, 2003)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – L.G. Mair Jr. – “Drōn” (M&E 395, 1997)

BELGIUM – Galactic Lilah Et L’Orchestre-Fantôme – “Essais Somnanbuliques – Volume 1: Anima Spiralia” (M&E 105, 1992)

WALES – Sons Of Selina – M&E 25th Anniversary Special Collection (1992-95)

ITALY – Mana ERG – “Another” (Self Released CDR, 1999)

GREECE – The Flowers Of Romance – “The Story So Far… And Further!” (M&E 088, 1992, M&E 25th Anniversary Special Edition)

Adding a further half an hour to the original release, much of which includes remastered versions, including extra tracks from the Flowers, Nexus and New Zero God, thus bringing the story up to date. Plus exclusive ‘piano and voice’ bonus track of Flowers classic, “Winter Waltz”, specially performed by the New Zero God himself, Mike Pougounas, and Tsiri Band’s Irene Tiniakou.

AUSTRIA – Karg – “Kira” (M&E 116, 1992)

FINLAND – Pornorphans – “Seasoned With Love” (M&E 448, 1998)

CANADA – Jaws Of The Flying Carpet – “Live At The Whipping Post” (M&E 402, 1997)

THAILAND – Rotton Kidz – “Green Asia” (M&E 235, 1993)

BELARUS – Zartipo – “Live” (M&E 302, 1995)

LITHUANIA – Ir Visa Tai Kas Yra Gražu Yra Gražu – “Ir Visa Tai Kas Yra Gražu Yra Gražu” (M&E 091, 1992)

POLAND – The Witches – “Witchcraft” (M&E 214/347, 1993-96)

UKRAINE – Elza – “Monsters Movie / World Of Elza” (M&E 248, 1994)

THE NETHERLANDS – Trespassers W – “Buzz” (M&E 260, 1994)

JAPAN – Toshiyuki Hiraoka – “T” (M&E 554, 2000)

AUSTRALIA – Eye / Aya – “…” (M&E 427, 1998, M&E 25th Anniversary Special Edition)

SWITZERLAND – Religious Overdose – “Flatus Flow Rate” (M&E 312, 1995)

NORWAY – Sister Sinister – “Sister Sinister” (M&E 559, 2000)

SWEDEN – Dark Side Cowboys – “Review” (M&E 366, 1996)

SPAIN – Anima Mundi – “En Directo” (M&E 379, 1997)

BULGARIA – The Legendary Poptones & M. Nomized – “The Story Of An Acoustic Dream” (M&E 397, 1997)

CROATIA – Space Invaders – “Planet Blue” (M&E 413, 1997)

PORTUGAL – Ras.Al.Ghul – “Ras.Al.Ghul” (M&E 428, 1998)

RUSSIA – Artemiy Artemiev – “Electroshocking Works” (M&E 475, 1999)

ROMANIA – Levente – “Turning Pages” (M&E 596, 2003)

SOUTH AFRICA – Sphinx – “The Secret Of…” (M&E 065, 1992, M&E 25th Anniversary Special Edition)

UNITED WORLD UNDERGROUND (MMATT CD 2, 2001)

Includes tracks from Into The Abyss (Greece), Dark Star (Germany), Eye (Australia), Earth (Germany), Grass Harp (Germany), Ras.Al.Ghul (Portugal), Idiom (England), Blacklight Braille (U.S.A.), Lord Litter (Germany), The Stinking Badger Of Java (Australia), Neo (England), T.M.R. (England), Cosmic Dance Society (Germany), Love In A Plague (England) and Steve Andrews (Wales).

Mick Magic adds: “Just thought you might like to see the pile of freebies we have to give away over the “UWU Collection” online Release Event this weekend, and that’s not to mention all the downloads! I’ll be here most of the weekend (when I’m awake), sharing music and videos, why not pop in and join me whenever you’ve got some time to kill? It’s 33 hours of amazing underground music we’re trying to tempt you with, and all at an amazing underground price. But whether you go for it or not, there’s clearly no need to leave empty-handed…

As Lord Litter puts it:

The United World Underground Collection is a Lightscribe data disc, contains 30 albums, including several 25th anniversary specials, all in high quality 320kbps mp3 format, a further 4½ hours of bonus material, 4 books (PDF format) and a bonus CD (the original United World Underground compilation from 2001). The two disc set comes presented in a DVD style clear Amaray case, 33 hours of music in all, and plenty to read, including the 64 page illustrated booklet that accompanies the collection…

If you really want to get know how it all was … here’s your chance: http://www.MickMagic.net

The event can also be reached on Facebook

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Posted by on October 12, 2017 in Alternative, Cassette Scene

 

An Interview with Lord Litter

Lord Litter with Mr. Skull

Lord Litter with Mr. Skull, Co-Hosts at "The Shared Nights" Concerts

Lord Litter hails from Berlin, Germany, and is one of the, if not THE, European leg of the Cassette Scene of the 1980’s / 1990’s.  Dedicating himself to the movement, he brought together musicians from all nations, all continents, in an effort to get the unheard-music heard.  He relentlessly exchanged tapes from nation to nation and was the vital link in the center of the globe.  Without his untiring efforts, many musicians from the underground scene would have fallen into oblivion.  Today tribe4mian brings you an exclusive, seldom-given, interview with the man who made it happen …

tribe4mian:  How and when did you get involved with music?
 
LORD LITTER:  I was solo voice in a classical choir when I was 10 years old… for several years we traveled Germany singing real heavy BACH, etc., stuff.  How I got involved in all this?  I really can’t remember .. I just very clearly remember that right from the start I felt the addiction and that I would do music all my life long .. and I was right!
 
tribe4mian:  Awhile ago I uploaded a BBC documentary about Kraut Rock (you can check it HERE).  After watching this documentary, I was wondering what was the German scene like in the late 70’s-early 80’s?
 
LORD LITTER:  Well, Kraut Rock started in the late 60s.  It made German and international music (mainly English/American) equal… and I’m not talking about historically *accepted* bands like Kraftwerk .. no names here .. too many.  Germany was exploding with a certain sound that could only happen in Germany.  If it was good it had an aspect of German *culture* .. *a touch of Goethe*, so to speak.  If it was bad it was caught in the sterile non-flexible *German rule*. 

The early 70s to the early 80s .. that was from NEU to EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN .. well to me .. then as all over the world.  Suddenly … it was all over.  A good example is the band DEUTSCH AMERKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT .. the early LPs meant dangerously noise rhythms .. the later LPs meant Disco Dance ..
 
tribe4mian:  As a musician, were you ever involved with the Neue Deutsche Welle?  Any bands to mention please?

LORD LITTER:  I guess every musician living in Berlin in the 80s was involved somehow.  Boring old farts cut their hair, named their band *The Fuck Theatre* and .. oups .. were New Wave .. So yes I sure was involved in all this. The first band was so Avangarde we even did not have a name .. we just had a sign .. uuuhhh … well basicly it was a Punk band, I guess. The second band was called UBIK after a sci-fi book. The band had a brass section and was very much New York No Wave influenced .. remember James Chance?  In both bands I screamed and ripped strings (guitar and bass) .. and then suddenly there were the horrible 80s and New Wave was dead …. and I looked .. and found the *Cassette Scene*.
 
tribe4mian:  Can you please fill us in about “Der Mondane Tiger“? What is it all about ?
 
LORD LITTER:  This is a co-operation with Andrea Splisgar. She is an *all around* artist (her first official appearence was in Fellinis last movie) – performing, building sculpturs, working with graphics, etc.  Since 1999 we cooperate whenver she needs sound for her work, which is very often.

Recently we produced several short movies for a new art / fashion scene.  The last movie Chapter 14 “THE DREAM OF THE DISEMBODIED BIRDS” won the festival “A Shaded View on Fashion Film, 3rd Edition”, Centre Pompidou, Paris on September 2010, category: Best Sound, produced by me. We cooperate in a perfect way, because we are influenced by almost the same artists/directors.
 
tribe4mian:  Which are your favorite movies?
 
LORD LITTER:  With the start of what I call the DVD *revolution* I went ‘n bought *all* movies / TV series / etc. that ever influenced me decades ago. Said bye bye to today’s absolutely disgusting tv / cinema / general entertainment world .. and felt extremely inspired (again).  It’s quite impossible to answer that question – I can name certain *scenes*.

First, I guess I have to mention the Euro Intelectuals of the 50s/60s/70s .. mainly Luis Bunuel!!!  I guess an always-No.1-movie of mine is his “Le Fantome de la Liberte“.  Then there was inspiring material from the early 70 US-American Sci-Fi directors .. showing me possible realities. .. movies like “Soylent Green” and “Westworld“.  Then the glorious gothic horror – Hammer movies from the 50s, 60s .. Roger Corman/Vincent Price from the same period … and in recent years I finally found all the Euro-Art-House-Trash from the 60s/70s/80s which is most inspiring these days .. the one to inspire me most is Jess Franco!!!

Lord Litter's "Tales about Death, Destruction and Everyday Fascism"

Lord Litter's "Tales about Death, Destruction and Everyday Fascism"

tribe4mian:  I have here your 1989 release, “Tales about Death, Destruction and Everyday Fascism“. How many releases do you have?  Which was your first one and when was it released?

LORD LITTER:  Ha .. *Tales …* golden times!!!  All in all … stopped counting … I must have released about .. well lets say 50 releases.  The first *official* release was the tape “Take the Trash” from 1984. .. well yes I guess it was *Trash-a-billy* .. extreme fun with full drum set etc., all played by yours truly …
 
tribe4mian:  I remember one day you told me you also moved from the position of musician to the position of promoter.  In general, what is your opinion about the music industry?
 
LORD LITTER:  I think from ca. mid 50s to ca. mid 80s there was a kinda balanced situation where some people did the music and others sold it to the masses.  The developement of the culture happened so quickly that there was always something new growing in the *underground* … new / *honest* sound … to be sold by people only caring about the money.  All that stopped in the mid-80s.  Ever since, the biz side of the game alway tries to *create* something to sell.  In recent years it’s all these casting shows.  All this leads to a situation where we have all these 15-minutes artists.  This *official pop culture* does not exist anymore, because it only could happen by being fed from a *real* underground.  Today I only hear sounds I’ve heard before.  The days of innovation are over … from Elvis Presley to Karlheinz Stockhausen – we had it all. It can’t be repeated.
 
Then we always had the so- called independent scene.  Don’t forget, the label that *made* Elvis, Sun Records, was an indepedent label. Today’s independent labels act like the mayor labels in the old days. I have quite a good situation to realise all this as a DJ who went through the 80s – working with the hardcore independent scene, the *cassette scene*.  These people really only did it for the music.  A company today just has to sell items to pay everybody.  Today’s general biz situation is a completely profit-aimed one, so… one just has to *sell*.  I really can’t blame anyone.  But I can’t take *them* seriously .. and I totally left this world.

tribe4mian:  For some years now you have your own radio show on Radio Marabu.  I have about 15 cassettes of your show.  What is this radio show for you?  When did you start it?
 
LORD LITTER:  I think the show always has been an excerpt from what I listen to… what inspires me… it’s like sitting in my studio talking to me and I play my favourite songs of that very moment.  There was a moment when it almost decayed… when it became a promotion instrument… that was ca. 2000 to 2005.  I produced up to 10 shows a month for 3 stations and started to HATE music – I had to listen to 5 CDs every day, started to think in airplay categories .. ‘n I realised what music and biz means…
 
… Today I’m back at the 100% fun level… once a month I present classics that I realise once *defined* something… I think I seldom present the names that everybody presents again and again .. I combine that with musicians / bands I know on a quite personal level, that promote themselves.  Music as part of the human being… not as a good to sell / promote … so I think I’m back to the spirit of the first show in 1987 …
 
tribe4mian:  I asked a mutual friend, Don Campau, what would he like to ask you and he said:  “What keeps him creating?   What continues to drive him?  What inspires him?  What has he learned about himself from his art?”
 
LORD LITTER:  ha ah aha haa .. a real good one!!  Don should know .. he’s as mad as me! .. with his Living Archive website he is back on the road of innovation too!! ..  I think once I stop being creative I’ll die .. and I mean it exactly like I said it.  I realised what keeps me creating .. drives me … is a permanent process of re-defining … learning .. stopping .. analysing .. starting new at a different point.  Like from 1984 to 1999 I spit it all out… from my first solo releases to the live period of my Litter & The Lazy Sleepers band.  Then I entered the period of thinking – planing – creating, so my new CD took me 3 years … and “what have I learned about myself from my art?” ALWAYS keep analysing .. defining .. re-defining .. learning .. NEVER stop.  If you feel too comfortable, try to find out why and then change it .. there is ALWAYS a deeper level of *truth*.  If you stop … you die … I NEVER would have learned that about life without my *art*. 

Lord Litter's A Bad Case Of True Love

Lord Litter - "A Bad Case Of True Love"

tribe4mian:  At some point your style changed into rhythm and blues.  Why?
 
LORD LITTER:  I guess you mean Litter & The Lazy Sleepers… from the mid to late 90s?  That was a perfect combination of the boys I had met after my Das Freie Orchester (DFO) days – DFO was an .. well lets say *avangarde* band from East Germany (GDR)  I joined the very day the wall fell .. the most adventureous *on stage* days of my life.  The concept of the band was “we have no concept”.  The moment we entered the stage we absolutely had NO IDEA what would happen next… freedom pure!!  When it became obvious that there was no freedom in the *new Germany*… only profit was allowed.  That became a reality ca. 1993, DFO fell apart. .. I met other people in East Germany who came from the Blues scene .. I was always into R&B (the rock R&B from England) .. so the combination was Litter & The Lazy Sleepers playin’ some kind of .. well *hard Blues*.  After 5 years I had one of those *moments* of my life… something told me to move on… I NEVER could be still on stage playin the same old R&B these days …
 
tribe4mian:  I got to know you back in the late 80’s because of the cassette scene.  Your name is also mentioned on the “Grindstone Redux” documentary and the truth is, a lot of artists out there got in touch with a lot of people thanks to you. Would you like to give us an idea of the European cassette scene?  How did it work and what was your part in it?

LORD LITTER:  I think what made me go crazy in that direction was that I had a management company in the 80s.  We tried to be an *honest* connection between artists and the music-biz.  After 5 years I realised it’s absolutely not possible.  (Explained above.)  At the same time I found the so-called *tape scene* and realised a scene that I was looking for… only in it for the music / art. I don’t  know if the European scene was different from the scene elsewhere – it was all about creating, exchanging, communicating, building something different.  So, I tried to connect as many people as possible and by doing so spread my music all over the world.  To talk about all this would be TOO MUCH – just let me mention the worldwide distribution/promotion network KFR I was involved in, or my radioshow, that right from the start would only promote real *hard-core independent* sound, etc.  With an idea about a different culture – the letters that were exchanged were as important as the music.  So all efforts to say today’s *social network scene* is the dream come true of those days is obviously wrong and a stupid joke .. to put a badly produced MP3 somewhere and so called *friends* leave comments like: “Wow – cool”… If I compare that with the *communication* I grew up with … well I’ll no longer comment on all this.
 
tribe4mian:  What do you think about the internet?  Do you think the internet has impacted the evolution of the cassette movement?
 
LORD LITTER:  Well if we are talking about a real alternative one has to work with all these new ways in a controlled / knowing way.  If you use the hyperlink structure of the internet to get your stuff to as many people as possible, you gotta play the so called *social network* instrument.  This network is built to connect everybody.  The owners of these networks use this structure, which gets them data, to make big big money.  They make money with your “wow that’s cool” comment .. they make money with the pictures of your birthday, etc.  So, if you use these structures to sell your stuff, you can built a small biz that really works.  I know of musicians who play the Facebook game for 4 hours a day.  This reaches enough people to buy your products and fills the venues you play.  The *avangarde-days* of the internet are definitely over. It’s only and all about money (as usual).  I very much doubt that the disscussion groups have the same effect the personal letters had in the 1980s.  It’s all too much these days.  Today’s task of the individual is to find the extremely limited info that really helps.  One million pages of the internet are a sea to drown .. one thoughtful letter is a source of inspiration.  Hey don’t get me wrong – the internet made me a free person!  But I really studied that (special school)… the way the structure works, etc.  I just see too many people these days drowning in the new media world.  I don’t blame them… it’s all too much… and it was too soon.
 
tribe4mian:  Which artists inspire Lord Litter?  Since you always had the chance to listen to a lot of music, what kind of music was your favorite for most of the years?

LORD LITTER:  I guess I can say… always the music that the *masses* were not listening to.  It’s difficult to explain, but I realised that whenever I talked about an artist (even when I was a teen), most people said they never heard about him/her.  The first time I realised that was when I was exploring the different solo musicians that came out of the Bonzo Dog BandNeil Innes, Roger Ruskin Spear, Vivian Stanshall .. and related bands like Grimms.  *Noone* knew them – I thought they were extremely inspiring because they were offering *something different*.  Also the musicians offered incredibly  strange stuff – for a very short period even what one could call *pop culture* offered sounds to inspire me.  One of those unforgetable records is the Metal Box by Public Image Limited.  Known names? .. well yes .. but I rather was looking for obscure follow up bands by ex pop singers who freed themselves from producers, etc., like “Ellis” .. the band from Steve Ellis, who had huge 1960s hits with Love Affair.  I guess I was always trying to *look behind*.  Words/lyrics?  Ray Davies!!!  Today I almost only listen to the people I present at my radioshow – update free producing musicians from all around the globe.  Plus, I have incredible fun exploring some classic artists I missed in the early years .. like – I bought *all* Bert Kaempfert and *all* Beach Boys releases in recent times .. oh what an inspiration!

tribe4mian:  Can you tell us about the “Shared Night Series” and your new CD titled “No Harm Done“?
 
LORD LITTER:  The Shared Night is a concert series organised by Jens Fischer, who is the muscial director of the Blue Man Group, which may be *famous* all over the world.  The idea of the series is that there are so many inspired musicians that he and his wife Alexa (also a musician) know, who would love to have a platfrom to try things all just for the fun of it.  So one can’t make much money/fame or whatever at these nights.  But we always have a full-house these days and the variety of the artists is incredible.  Some are high class / trained musicians who make a living playin with today’s *names* .. but they all come to the Shared Night to have the *real fun*.

I do the hosting (now co-hosting with Radio Marabu DJ Marcel Fischer).  The hosting is more a show of its own… with… no it’s not possible to explain.  Come check it out, every first Monday of the month at the B Flat in Berlin.  The Shared Nights now have their own show at Radio Marabu, the station that broadcasts my radioshow, Lord Litter’s Magic Music Box.  Since January 2011, Radio Marabu broadcasts on a daily basis, which brought much more listeners/cooperations, etc.

All this was such an inspiration to me that I think it really influenced my own music, so my new CD “No Harm Done” is the first CD since ages that I really like and like to spread.  I was pretty bored with recording another and another CD .. but that changed.  Already 5 new songs almost finished.
 

The Lord Litter Band
The Lord Litter Band

tribe4mian:  I hold here in my hands this photo of The Lord Litter Band.  Would you like to share with us some memories from that era?

LORD LITTER:  That was the band in between DAS FREIE ORCHESTER and LITTER & THE LAZY SLEEPERS… called The Lord Litter Band.  It had Gui, the ex-drummer of Das Freie Orchester. Plus it already had Sven, the guitar player that stayed till the end of it all in 1999.  We played some .. well.. Country-Punk-N-Roll … I guess.  It was all my songs taken from the cassettes I had produced.
 
tribe4mian:  What does future hold for Lord Litter?
 
LORD LITTER:  I realised that I’m right now entering a new period.  Everything starts on a different level. Everything is back to a very healthy situation that I mainly can control.  No need to make money with my art (but some money comes!) and interesting work all over.  More solo work, mainly recording.  Back on stage with Litter & Leech, my duo – we finally found what we were looking for since 2006.  Two electric guitars and my voice and all our own songs.  Der Mondaene Tiger will have inspiring new work (more movies, I guess) and my radioshow now reaches a cool amount of people .. so it all looks extremely fine!
 
If you want to get in touch with me please do so – LordLitter@LordLitter.de.  I answer all personal mail. Facebook invitations, newsletters / MP3s / etc – well today’s ususal internet-mainstream-dirt  is totally blocked by a carefully worked out system that eliminates all this.
 
Many thanks for the interview! .. made me think about myself.  Always important!
 
Greets .. cheerz ‘ have a great life!
Lord Litter
http://www.LordLitter.de.

Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview, Lord Litter.  I know it will interest a lot of people and I hope you had a good time answering my questions.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2011 in Cassette Scene, Interviews

 

GRINDSTONE REDUX (THE DOCUMENTARY)

There is a saying in America, “put your nose to the grindstone” which means “get to work”.

The underground indie scene certainly has had and will continue to have much work.

 I recently viewed the dvd “Grindstone Redux” which was produced and assembled by Andrew Szava-Kovats, owner of True Age Records.

It covers the story of a network of underground musicians communicating by hand-written letters and cassettes both domestically and abroad during the ‘80’s.

Some of those featured included people we’ve written about previously, including Don Campau as well as Mikhail Bohonus, Jeff Chenault, Christopher Elston, Charles Goff III, Randy Greif, Al Margolis, Mark Lane, Chris Phinney and Andrew Szava-Kovats himself.

 Their interviews are covering all the difficulties and pleasures encountered by the indie scene before the internet.

They had the opportunity to correspond with many people from other lands, trading a vast collection of musical talent and experimentation.

Keep in mind this was before the internet provided the luxury of instant gratification of listening to what you wanted and when you wanted.

Mail was slow.

It could take a week or a month from any individual but the thrill of finding something in your mailbox was something today’s internet generation will never experience.

It wasn’t just music, it was artwork.

It was the soul of the individual crafted in limited quantity.

In addition to the interviews you will also be able to experience footage from Mark Lane’s gigs in Europe, Al Margolis’s experimental music performances and much more.

The dvd came out during 2009 through True Age Media and will give you a taste of the cassette scene, American style,

A truly fascinating look into how musicians coped in the music industry when the music industry failed to support them.

You can get it for here

 
 

LONELY WHISTLE MUSIC 2

By Don Campau

I am a lucky guy. Three years ago I retired from a job pushing out vegetables which I had done for over 30 years. Don’t get me wrong, I liked my job. It was physical, not mental, the way I like it. It afforded me an opportunity to meet and talk to strangers and stay in OK shape because of the heavy lifting and endless walking. However, it did take a real toll. After all this time getting up at 3 or 4 in the morning it was starting to hurt and I was just tired. Thank goodness I had a union job that put away money for my “golden years”.

This job allowed me to have my afternoons free so that I could work on my various projects: my own music, my web sites, my radio shows and all the things I do.

My favorite part of all this good luck is this. I leisurely get up at 7:30 or 8 am and with my own kids ( and my wife’s) long gone with their own lives and families there is very little happening in our house. My wife Robin might already be gone or quietly reading. There is no noise or stress to speak of.

So, I make my coffee, and begin my day…in my recliner chair. I put on some music but not just any music, this is music that has no melody, no rhythm and at the lowest possible volume. Almost as if it is not there. This is not new age candy fluff but mainly experimental ambient music by musicians such as Mathias Grasnow, Mark Wastell, Tomas Koner, Oophoi and  others.

It is just about perfect. The cat on my lap, the warm coffee heating my hands. I tend to fall into some kind of hypnagogic state between waking and sleep which I absolutely love. I usually sit there with the sun coming out as I gaze at times through our back window into our suburban yard with the trees swaying and the neighborhood not yet active. I’ll sit there for half and hour or even longer some days. It is a little piece of heaven for me.

I realize how lucky I am and I am quite thankful. Many, or even most, people will rarely get this kind of luxury that I have carved out for myself. No people grouching at me first thing in the morning, no waiting in a traffic jam to get to a busy and stressful job, nothing to keep me from staying calm and collected. And yet, I have periods of great stress.

I lay awake at night worrying about ridiculous things. I fret over the smallest problems and allow them to create tension. The computer, the bills, my health, the kids and grandkids, the car. So, it looks like I have only removed a layer or two of the things that were aging and dragging me down.

Years ago I practiced meditation and am thinking I should get back to it. It helped me at the time get through some difficult personal moments of my first marriage and health issues. Maybe I should go back to the gym and kick up my exercise program like I did when I first retired. Perhaps I should travel and leave my cares behind while I enjoy the sights of some place else. Maybe donate my time to a charity that feeds and helps the homeless and destitute.

But no. For now, I will just sit in my chair and think about nothing for now with the sun making my toes glow, with the cat purring, with the coffee steaming in my hands and with the sound of the drone off in the distance but close in my head.

 
 

Lonely Whistle Music

By Don Campau

Recently, I had a face book debate about giving  my music away for free or trade. This happened  on a guys page who happens to be a performing  musician, a guitar teacher and runs a web site that is fighting illegal downloads and piracy. He’s a good guy and a fine musician. Plus, he’s probably 30 years younger than me. He works hard, practices hard and puts his heart into his music.

Well, after I mentioned that I give or trade all of my music away ( people can buy it if they insist as well) all hell broke loose. He and his friends started really going off and one of them even started attacking me for daring to have my own opinions about my own music. I mean, I wasn’t asking them to give away their music but comments like “so I guess you think your music is worthless” started getting flung around. I calmly stated that I was not interested in the music business and explained why. The ugliness of the commercial industry, the fact that I’ve never met an indie musician that really had “success” in the way I define it. And here’s how I define it. Remember, this is my definition only:

Being able to pay the bills, buy a house, support my family, have health insurance and put something away for retirement and the future.

I have known plenty of musicians that actually did OK in their local areas and even some that have had international followings but NONE that meet my criteria of “success”. I have played several thousand artists on my “No Pigeonholes” shows and as far as I know, none of them have been able to achieve anything even close to this.

Still, I wished them good luck and I meant it. Perhaps they are young idealists and good for them. Maybe I am an old jaded man and in fact they all said I was being negative. OK, maybe that’s one interpretation. To me though, it is just being realistic. I gave up the idea of a career in music about 35 years ago. Long before the internet, longer even then these guys have been alive. However, they are welcome to their opinions and their experiences are valid. They kept complaining about being hurt by downloaders. Ok, how many people have downloaded their material illegally? Would it be enough to pay the rent, make ends meet, even buy lunch? I realize every dollar counts to anybody just making it these days. I am not questioning their experience but I do question their anger placement.

They kept using terms mouthed directly from the commercial industry itself like: “target demographic”. I pointed out the folly of the commercial music industry: mafia/ corporate control, using people as products, the degradation of women, the “ageist” bias, etc. Did they really want to be part of this side of the industry? Or did they want to be independent rockers, which is what I assumed. I really don’t know but I suggested another way, a new model of business, one where community is more important than lame ass jewel case CD profits. In fact, I’d say the idea of an independent musician making money, real money, on a regular CD is long over. In fact, it may never have existed to begin with.

I stated that a new model will offer something to people, to fans, that is special and cannot be downloaded. Things like hand signed CDs, private mp3s, special art work, handmade copies. These are things that cannot be downloaded ( well, maybe the private mp3s can be). I mentioned that Nine Inch Nails and Tool seem to “get it” by offering fans something unique. My own experience with NIN is getting the free downloads and then buying the actual release and buying the tickets to see them live. For me, it worked. Tool offers incredible art work with their commercial releases. Sure, some people are going to rip you off. Are they “real” fans? I doubt it. That’s where the community angle comes into play I said. Real friends are going to support and watch out for you much as my neighbors and us look out for each other when we are gone. There is the well known example of Radiohead having people pay what they like. Evidently, they did very well with this approach. Of course, these are groups that have huge followings and a large fan base. Still, the idea is to create a loyal fan base. That means a lot of hard work, and usually tireless and endless touring. And even after that, it is more luck than anything else is seems to me.

One of their arguments is that they went to music school, took out big loans and felt they deserved a living in their chosen career. That logic sort of shocked me really. I mean … you seriously think this ? I said there are too many bands, in other words too much supply for the supply and demand system. They countered with their experience that downloaders could be talked into valuing the music and creating more demand. Ok, point taken, but is that a game changer? Will that turn people who could care less into fans and then will they be willing to shell out hard earned money on a product and artist they know very little about? Hmm…I doubt it. No one owes you a living. It’s like having too many carpenters in this economy where very few houses are being built.

In the end, the main guy said that a “hobbyist” like me should not be able to comment in a blog about “professional“ musicians. To me, that’s not some big slap though. I like being a hobbyist. And are they really “professionals”?, not by my definition, no. By my definition, they are “amateurs”. And I don’t mean this in a vituperative or demeaning way. I really do wish them well with their careers.

Many of my brethren in home recording and Cassette Culture take offense to the term “hobbyist” because when we get done with our actual day jobs our minds turn to creating music for the fun and art of it. Then we make our Cds by hand, trade them with other like minded individuals worldwide, perhaps play music live and sell a few Cds, or , gasp… give them away. In other words, spend most of our waking hours away from work being “hobbyists”. I personally do three radio shows where I listen to indie bands, play their music, make the playlists, contact each musician personally to let them know I received their CD and played it on the air, post a podcast, and become a cheerleader for their music. And I have done this everyday since 1985. I have never made one cent for my efforts. In fact, it costs me money to do it. I do it because I love contact, community and the music many of these artists create. Does someone owe me a living? Definitely not. It’s been my choice all the way.

Once again, I am not suggesting that other people follow this path but for heavens sake, let me.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 14, 2010 in Cassette Scene, Lonely Whistle Music

 

An interview with Mick Magic

Mick Magic

Mick Magic was one of the prominent figures of the Cassette Scene.  Hailing from Frimley, Surrey, Mick formed the space rock band Magic Moments At Twilight Time, had a fanzine and a label called “Music & Elsewhere”, and also began the United World Underground project.

I always wanted to ask you if you were involved in music before Magic Moments At Twilight Time. Were there any other bands in your life before that? When was M.M.A.T.T. formed and who were the other members?

Mick Magic:  Oh yeah, I think I first picked up a guitar while I was at junior school. Probably from around 13ish, I was auditioning for bands and trying to start one of my own, plus doing a lot of solo recording. That would have been live to cassette in those days! It’s actually a really difficult task to get a group of people together who are all dedicated to a common purpose, a lot more so than you would think. However, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. So I did, several times. And THEN gave up!

MMATT was formed by pure chance many moons later. I was 28, middle management in an office, bored senseless. So I turned back to music again, began multi-tracking on a hi-fi VCR. Got my then wife, Shona, to do some vocal parts for me and started turning out some head-damaging art-house avant garde space-psyche. The name – I wanted something that didn’t match the music, rather something that sounded like an afternoon tea-dance orchestra, so put together the names of the songs that had topped the charts in the UK and the US when I was born, et voila. We billed ourselves, with a hint of irony, as “a husband and wife duo from north west Surrey.”

M.M.A.T.T. 1987

Serendipity struck next. A friend called Eddie Irwin, sadly no longer with us thanks to the traditional rock & roll death of choking on your own vomit while out of your brain, just happened to play our cassette (“State Of The Art” – C4003 – 1987) to a guy and his girlfriend who lived down the road. They were stunned that anyone that lived in their road was making music like that (it’s a very conservative area!) and arranged with Eddie to meet me. Thus we became Mick Magic, Shona Moments, Kate Twilight and Jay Time, the greatest band ever to have come from the side of Farm Road that the shops are on.

Based on the sound of the album “Creavolution”, the band Hawkwind seemed to be one of the main influences of M.M.A.T.T.  Was there a special atmosphere evident during your shows?

Mick Magic:  Hawkwind were a significant influence, certainly, but we could never have afforded the spectacular light-shows I’ve seen at their gigs over the years. Our live shows bordered more on the theatrical, utilising Shona’s acting and dancing talents. The set would open with her miming answering an intergalactic phone call, all rather tongue in cheek, of course. Then there was the ceremony of getting Jay out of bed (he’d start out on a camp bed, all snuggled under a blanket), ready to play bass on the second song. I used to love the bemused looks on the audience’s faces through that part. Then Shona would strip down from boiler suit to a leotard, dance with ribbons, duet with a cassette recorder, threaten crowd members with a knife, dress up as a cowboy, you name it. We even included the step-walk made famous by The Shadows during the instrumental break of “Acidic Heaven”… don’t know what Hank would have made of that! Sadly, the live phase of the band’s existence was short-lived, but we got to support some great bands like The Pink Fairies and Here & Now, so I have some very fond memories of those days.

I guess, thanks to the band, the M.M.A.T.T. fanzine was created and became a vital instrument for the cassette scene.  Apart from your humorous notations, one could find contacts and information about other musicians of the cassette scene. I still believe you are a very talented writer, Mick, and I admit I had always enjoyed your writing when I was reading your publications. What was it like to put together the fanzine back then?

Mick Magic:  Hard work, but great fun. I used to start with an A3 sheet of cartridge paper, rule out the layout with pencil, then do the final lining with a black fine-art pen. Captions were done with ‘Letraset’, pictures and logos fixed on with double-sided sticky tape after all the typing was finished. Had a lovely old manual typewriter which had been with me since I was around 13. Finally, the original A3 page would be reduced down to make an A4 master for copying. A talented writer? Oh, bless you. You could have mentioned my matinee idol good looks too though…

Can you please tell us how all these musicians found you?

Mick Magic:  The way of the underground, effectively word of mouth. It’s incredible how the thing blossomed when you think it all started pre-internet. Things and communiqués used to arrive on the doormat, rather than via an Outlook Inbox! I always remember the great excitement when the postman came and I’d wonder what exotic countries I’d have mail from today. Would it be Ukraine? Thailand? China? Or just somewhere naff like Greece. :))

I know this was a non-profit edition and money came out of your own pocket to get it out there.  Today, with the era of the internet encompassing every aspect of our daily life, some might wonder if you did this for the love of communication, as a way of expression, or, simply for the satisfaction of helping other artists.  When did you start doing the fanzine and what inspired you to make such a creation?

Doctor Magic - 1987

Mick Magic:  Not so much ‘non-profit’ as ‘not for profit’. That is to say there was no aversion to making a living, but making money was not the primary purpose of M&E. I didn’t starve, but I tended to dine on beans on toast rather than caviar! Fortunately, toast tastes better with beans.

I don’t know that anything particularly inspired it, more a case of an organic mix of creation and evolution (yes, that’s where the album title came from). Once people started to hear the band, other like-minded artists would send us their music, throw a few flyers in the pot etc. Gradually, our circle of friends began to grow, then it expanded out of the country and I literally tripped over the old KFR Distribution network, the mainstays of which were Stephen Parsons (BBP Records, UK), Lord Litter (Out Of The Blue, Germany) and Don Campau (Lonely Whistle Music, USA). I can do nothing by half measures, I’m quite obsessive, so I simply had to get deeply involved and a newszine seemed a good way of doing it. Then I realised that if we started to sell music by other bands as well, more people would be interested in what we did., which would generate more interest in our own output too. It was the win-win solution I look for in everything. So we started doing master-tape swaps with those that were into issuing music too, simply released music by those only interested in making it and freely gave masters to those that wanted to issue some but didn’t make their own. It was all very idealistic, I suppose, but quite a broadening experience, for all the reasons you suggest in the question. And beyond.

Compared to the letter writings and stamps of those days, do you believe that the internet is a better mode of information or not?

Mick Magic:  I’m gonna sound a right Luddite if I say not, huh? The internet makes communication easier, but then it also cheapens it. If you sit down and type a letter, put it in a package with a musicassette and some flyers, take it to the Post Office and mail it, then you have a kind of personal investment in it. Now it’s just send an e-mail with an mp3 attached, maybe even just a ‘url’ link, effortless. Is that a good thing? I see a duality there. But perhaps we shouldn’t imbue the internet with qualities of any type, it is just a tool. The way we communicate is our choice. So sure, keeping in touch and finding old friends has never been easier, but the price we pay is constant spam e-mails designed to make us feel our willies are inadequate! Er, not mine, I hasten to add…

Are there any specific Cassette Scene artists that you would advise our readers to search out?

Mick Magic:  I’d be here all day! Probably the most active are the best to go for. Don Campau is still an influential presence and has a wonderful online archive paying tribute to the independent music scene, that’s a great place to start. I have recently bought the domain of http://www.mickmagic.net and am planning an online underground related magazine. I actually hoped to get it going some time ago, but when it came to sitting down to do it, I made the horrendous discovery that doing websites is much more complicated than doing a newszine! I am currently doing a home-study course and hope it won’t be too much longer before The Magic Net goes live. Then it’ll be a case of seeing what goes down in the underground, circa 2010. I’m guessing it’s all changed a bit since our day. We can have a little museum section; “Hey, kids, look at this, this is called a ‘postage stamp’!” I feel very old now, I even own a pair of slippers, God help me…

To use your words, “The MMATT label evolved into Music & Elsewhere (named in tribute to Faust, a reference to their “Munich & Elsewhere” LP)”. How did it evolve and how many releases did Music & Elsewhere have?

1991 - Zoen Nostalgia II Earthbound

Mick Magic:  I think I’ve probably inadvertently answered that via question 5. In terms of releases, it was (annoyingly) a grand total of 599 (the last issue’s M&E Audiozine cassette would have been M&E 600, but it never happened) over a period of around 15 years.

How was the Cassette Scene working?  Was it just a matter of putting together a cassette album, finding the address of someone with a radio show and mailing it to him? As far as I know, you were also acting as a distributor too.

Mick Magic:  Addresses were never hard to come by because we had all developed quite a well connected network, so yes, it was just a question of spreading it, bit by bit. Where it was tough was because, by it’s nature, independent underground music only appeals to a limited minority, so each new contact would only yield a comparatively small advance. However, the harder you worked at it, the better things got. With the cassettes; we would keep the money we made from the ones we sold, the other labels would keep the money from ours that they sold. Simple system, allowing everyone to work at whatever level their lives allowed them to. The distribution we did was a system called Distro Direct. It was designed to allow music fans to buy a number of different CDs from several countries via one source (us) with their own currency, we took care of the rest. It wasn’t exactly hassle-free, but I was satisfied it was a noble effort to overcome the kind of pre-internet distribution problems we all had. Hard work again, but no regrets, it was the most enlightening period of my life and I made so many good friends that I’m still in touch with many of now.

What is the United World Underground?

Mick Magic:  It was more a concept than a thing. The label was Music & Elsewhere, the newszine was The M&E Newszine (took me months to come up with that one!), but what of all the people we wrote about in it? The UWU was just a collective term I came up with to describe all of us that were involved. I wanted something that spoke of how we worked together on what we had in common, rather than bicker on how we differ as the governments that ‘represent’ us do. Ironically, though it sounds kind of cool in English, it didn’t translate well into many other languages, rather defeating he object of a globe-encompassing concept! Bugger.

When did you stop with all these activities of yours? Are you still making music?

"We may look normal, but we sound amazing.."

Mick Magic:  There was never a conscious decision made to stop, it just kind of happened. My life-long battle with depression is no great secret, and that can be a very debilitating thing to deal with. Probably without it though, the music would never have happened, but as with everything, there’s a balance to redress. Towards the end of 1995, I became embroiled in what would become a year long bitter legal battle with a CD manufacturer. Okay, we won the case, but the damages were paltry and it certainly didn’t FEEL like a victory. The frustration with our grinding and ineffective legal system had taken quite a toll. During the midst of this, four days before the opening court date, I’d lost my father to lung cancer. This was some two months before “Creavolution” came out, which should have felt like a pinnacle achievement, but simply didn’t because of everything else that was going on. As it turned out, it was the last MMATT album. I carried on with M&E/UWU for a few more years, but when you’re not doing music yourself any more, it’s never quite the same. Come 2001-ish, the next issue just ‘never quite happened’ and it died a natural death. I still have all the masters, of course, and I miss it all. Thankfully, things like Facebook (look me up, just send me a friend request with a note saying “I love underground music!”) have helped me rediscover many friends and contacts from the era, and I shall look forward to exploring how the experience turned out for everyone else, all in the ‘pages’ of the forthcoming Magic Net. As they say, the adventure continues…

Music – it’s been a while, but I have a project in mind again now, feeling suitably inspired from the wonderful discovery of my birth family over these last two years. Imagine it, 50 years an only child, then I find myself to be one of five! Oh wow. The working title for the album is “Last Star Falling”, but I have a feeling it’ll end up being called “Rose Of Erin”, an inspiration from the names of my newly discovered nieces. Watch the skies, but don’t expect it in a hurry, I’m betting technology has moved on some since I last put decibels to magnetic tape!

Can you name your most disappointing and your most pleasurable experiences from those cassette days?

Mick Magic:  Most disappointing – choosing the wrong CD manufacturer for “Creavolution” to start with! I’ll never forget the wonderful Sounds Good of Theale who later saved the day for us. Most pleasurable – reading any one of the many lovely letters I’ve received over the years telling me how I’ve had a positive influence on somebody’s life. That’s as good as it gets.

There was a Los Angeles article a while back saying that cassettes didn’t die and that they are back on the mix. What do you think?

Mick Magic:  I love cassettes, I have hundreds, but let’s be honest, it’s because of all the joyous memories they invoke, not because they’re a good medium! They stretch, you get wow and flutter, they don’t last, and cassette players can be a pain too. You wouldn’t believe how many units we went through in M&E’s heyday! If we want our music/images/words to be available to the widest possible number of people, we have to accept the future is digital. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do an occasional special cassette package release, does it? It’s a big world, we can accommodate everyone, nothing is written in stone. Well, apart from the work of stonemasons, obviously.

Are you still in touch with people you found during those days?

United World Underground

Mick Magic:  The number is growing, mostly through Facebook at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll find many more on the wider web once The Magic Net is up and running. I seem to remember a ‘Yahoo group’ called Cassette Culture too. I saw my name mentioned on it one day and posted a message expressing my surprise as I’d heard I was dead!

I was wondering whether you will ever again make available the M.M.A.T.T. music through the internet.

Mick Magic:  Absolutely, yes. First thing up will be a second edition of “Creavolution” with a couple of extras. That’s easy because it’s digital anyway. There are four vintage MMATT tracks that were digitised for release on French and German labels too, so I can make them available again simply. Then I need to learn about new technology (how DO you connect an Edison Cylinder Player to a USB port?) to be able to begin the conversion process of our analogue archives, but it will happen, sure. I hope to digitise at least sample tracks from much of the wider M&E catalogue too, just to make available as free mp3 downloads from The Magic Net. I must keep mentioning it publicly so I fully commit myself to doing it!!!

What does the future hold for Mick Magic, and, is there anything additional you would like to add?

Mick Magic:  The undiscovered country, it’s the journey I’m just about to embark on…

Thank you very much for this interview, Mick.  It was truly a pleasure and we appreciate you taking the time to fill in a slice from the underground movement’s past with the world of today.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 15, 2010 in Cassette Scene, Interviews

 

Cassette tapes are back in the mix

About a month ago, I posted a short history of the cassette scene as it is described  on Don Campau’s site.

Recently I spotted this very interesting article on Los Angeles Times titled “Cassette tapes are back in the mix“.

If you care doing some reading, just follow the links.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2010 in Cassette Scene, Music