Apes Tapes

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The story of a Portland cassette label complete with monkey puns.

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Cameron Spies | November 17, 2011

Apes Tapes

One might say that Apes Tapes was conceived under one particular December moon, at a house show in NE Portland. The show was dubbed “Five Bands on the Fifth,” being on the 5th of December, and the stage was shared by several of the would-be originators of Apes Tapes, among them, Lizzy Ellison, Marc Swart, Marc Girouard, Jessica Boudreaux, and Aaron Bikis. The year was 2009, and at that point the label was arguably less than a twinkle in anyone’s eye, but something special happened that night that cemented a long-lasting friendship; a friendship that would eventually become a tape label.

House show bills shared by this handful of bands, Spesus Christ, Soap Collectors, Adventures! With Might, Your Canvas, Onuinu (named Tropics at the time), and Leviticus Appleton led to more serious and focused ideas of pooling resources, and after the release of the first Spesus Christ tape, it felt like the group had found their medium. Several factors led us to cassettes:

  • Tapes were affordable to purchase in small quantities (CD-Rs were cheap, but they felt and looked cheap, and they would’t play correctly in some players).
  • The packaging of the tape felt like a much more precious and interesting design project. The tape as a physical keepsake was, and still is, much more compelling to us.
  • We had a mutual love and nostalgia for a medium that had seemingly come and gone from our respective childhoods with the advent of the CD. Damn you, CDs!

Of course, the idea was always to keep the digital download available with every package. Bandcamp provided a very easy and free (at the time) platform for digitally distributing our tracks.

We also had some wonderfully high-minded ideals about cultivating the creative community through selfless and profitless assistance of bands we loved. This has proved difficult in the long run, although we still do our best at it. Luckily, profits haven’t polluted our motivations, because there aren’t enough to do much with, aside from put out more tapes.

We quickly secured ourselves a college-going intern (Jennifer Fritschy, bless her heart) and were well underway. A few more collaborative shows later in the spring of 2010, some brainstorming, some guerilla marketing (vague, mysterious flyers put up all over town), and we felt we were ready to put out a proper release. The first official release from the label was Mixed Ape Number One, although it was released simultaneously with Split Ape Number One and Split Ape Number 2 (in August of 2010), so I guess they all shared that honor of being the “first release.” In one swoop, we had just put out music by 11 artists! Boom. We were excited.

Since it’s inception, the label has certainly seen some ups and downs. We have slowly begun to figure out what we can and can’t do with our limited resources, and will continue to figure that out as we go, but we feel that things are going in a positive direction. We’ve discovered that having the tapes professionally dubbed as opposed to dubbing them ourselves (on a stack of tape decks chained together with RCA cables) is much more efficient and not that much more expensive. Since that first batch of releases, Apes Tapes has put out 5 more releases, and is on the doorstep of releasing the next compilation, Mixed Ape 3. We are incredibly excited about this one, having had tracks contributed from some of our favorite Portland artists.

We also hope to put out a handful of releases in the coming year, including cassettes from Aan, Onuinu, Rico All The Time, and more that we can’t reveal just yet… spooky!

The following sampler gives a pretty good idea of the kind of music our friends have made and continue to make.

Apes Tapes Sampler:

01 Spesus Christ – “(T)its Up“
02 Summer Ono – “The Field”
03 PoPoPePe – “IDKWYW”
04 dopebeds – “Ferocious”
05 Onuinu – Ice Palace
06 Soap Collectors – “Window”
07 Leviticus Appleton – “Feed the Cat”
08 Aan – “Somewhere’s Sunshine”
09 Adventures! With Might – “Heavy Hevvy
10 And And And – “Get Lost”
11 Tony Bambino – “Smoov”
12 Radiation City – “Salsaness”
13 Your Canvas – “Telephone”
14 Rico All The Time – “Heaven Sold”

Ape Tapes First Birthday Party
9PM, Thursday, Nov. 17 @ Holocene (Portland, OR) $5
Starring:
Onuinu
Adventures! With Might
Vanimal
XDS
Pegasus Dream
… and mini sets from 3 surprise artists
GIft bags with lots of cool stuff to the first 25 people through the door.

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