“There’s nothing wrong with good old tapes” – Interview with Gaz Richards, funder of D.I.Y. cassette label Solid 7 Records

May 3, 2015 7:26 pm

Gaz Richards is the funder of Solid 7 Records, a D.I.Y cassette label, releasing on tapes his own recordings, along with other music that interests him. We chatted about his label, his “relationship” with cassettes, tapes’ comeback and new recording technology.

Piotr Balkus: What was the main reason you decided to fund a cassette label?

Gaz Richards: I’ve wanted to start a record label for years, I just needed the right idea. The original plan for Solid 7 was to release vinyl re-issues of established artists. I had big plans and not much budget, and eventually I came to the realisation that it was over-ambitious and not the right path to go down. So I put the record label idea on the back-burner for a while, until last year when I acquired a dusty old Akai reel to reel. I did a little work on restoring it to its former glory and that brought me a great deal of satisfaction. After a couple of months working on the Akai, my love of tapes was reignited and the idea that Solid 7 should be a DIY tape label just came naturally.

Gaz Solid 7

What is your experience/memories if comes to the tape recording and cassettes?

My relationship with cassettes goes right back to my childhood. There is definitely a nostalgia factor associated with cassette tapes. I would be at Woolworths every Saturday spending my pocket money on the latest cassette singles. Being an 80’s child meant that it was not only the latest music being released on tape, but also the latest video games! I’m still a big fan of those games today, I actually don’t own any video games that aren’t on cassette!

I used to like cassettes more than CDs. Is anything that make cassette better than CD’s or vinyl, in your opinion?

I wouldn’t say they are ‘better’ than either, but they certainly have their own charm. To my ears, vinyl is the superior format. I find CD’s can sound a bit cold. I am a keen vinyl collector, but that’s another story! They do have their own advantages though. Cassettes are economical to produce and there is no minimum quantity that needs to be produced like you would with pressing vinyl. Another good point to make is that they are the only physical format that will fit in your pocket (minidisc doesn’t count!). That is a good selling point when buying a band’s tape at a gig. I don’t really like buying vinyl at gigs and having to be really careful with it all night. I find that people are quick to dismiss tapes as an inferior medium. When those shiny new CD’s came along, tapes were quickly put to the back of the cupboard and forgotten about. Personally I don’t think there is anything inferior about cassettes. As long as you look after your equipment (clean those heads!) there is nothing wrong with good old tapes.

How does your label work? Do you contact bands with the idea? Or it’s them who contact you?

It’s a two-way street. I’m always hunting down new bands online through sites like Bandcamp. I’ve found some great albums on there. I want to encourage bands to send their EPs/LPs/tracks my way.

You released few bands already. Do they also release their material on CDs? Or only exclusively on cassettes?

All of the bands I’ve worked with release their material as a digital download via their own Bandcamp site. We usually include a download card with our cassettes. Only a few of the bands are interested in releasing on CD. I just handle the cassette releases.

Do you think one day we’ll all come back to tapes like we did to vinyl? Can you see the tape revolution in music in the future?

I doubt that we will see a boom in tapes like we have with vinyl (as nice as that would be!) I am a fan of both, but I don’t see the tape revolution scaling the heights like vinyl. There is definitely a mini-resurgence going on though, I read an article recently that said 1 in 10 students are buying cassettes, and now cassettes even have their own International Cassette Store Day. Cassettes also beat vinyl on affordability, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a nice collection going. They certainly have that going for them!

Is there any artist you would like to sign and release on tape if you have a chance to do it?

I’ve been a big fan of Screaming Trees for years. I would love to do a reissue of their 1985 demo tape ‘Other Worlds’.

How bands/artists can contact you regarding release and do they have to pay for your service?

Bands can contact me through Facebook (Solid7Records) or email gaz@solid7records.co.uk. There is no cost to the band. They provide the music, I provide the tapes. I do the dubbing, printing, hand-numbering, and the band is then given a quantity to sell at gigs/online etc. It’s a simple plan and it’s working well for us so far.

Thank you for your time and good luck with your label, Gaz.

Thank you.

Visit Solid 7 records website: www.solid7records.co.uk

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