The Blast Podcast #34: Sam Swig presents MyTapeSoundsNice
Quello che state per leggere ed ascoltare arriva direttamente da astrali coincidenze e convergenze incredibili. Al giorno d’oggi, grazie ai social network, ci si può imbattere in umanità varia e vasta, è risaputo, e stabilire connessioni fino a poco tempo fa impensabili, e questa storia, nella sua stranezza, ne è un esempio.
Qualche tempo dopo aver segnalato uno splendido mix di musica turca su cassetta ad opera di una signorina innamorata dell’arte perduta del mixtape, grazie ad una foto postata su Instagram, per puro caso siamo entrati in contatto con l’autrice di quel mix, ovvero Sam Swig. Abbastanza sorpresi e divertiti dalla coincidenza, abbiamo avuto modo di scambiare info e foto, discutere della comune passione per le cassettine missate, il diggin’ ed il gusto per un certo tipo di suono. E la rete è divenuta un nastro.
In occasione del nostro nuovo podcast, abbiamo il piacere di avere un mix in esclusiva ad opera di Sam, ed abbiamo scelto di chiamarlo Do Your Thing, Behave Yourself! MyTapeSoundsNice, ed abbiamo anche deciso di introdurvi alla figura ed alla storia di questa signorina californiana, che in un angolo di mondo continua a spingere l’arte del mixtape come se non vi fosse un domani, e diffonde cultura con semplicità e amore. Abbiamo scelto di mantenere lo scambio in lingua originale, per preservarne la freschezza…tanto siete tutti poliglotti, e alla peggio esiste Google Translate, no?
Thank you for being here, Sam. Just to let people know, who is Sam Swig?
That’s a tough one! As soon as I find out, I’ll let you know…
Ahah, aight, cool, we’ll wait, then. In the meanwhile, let’s put it this way: how did you start to have an affair with music?
I’ve always been in love with it, for as long as I can remember. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to live without it! Considering what I listen to and obsess over today, my musical background is probably unexpected. My dad loves classical music, has a great collection of recordings, and he played them all the time when I was growing up. My first favorite album in the world was his recording of the opera “Don Giovanni.” I was obsessed with it. My dad taped a performance from PBS and I watched it over and over and over. I probably wore out the tape! The last time I went to my parents’ house, my dad gave me that “Don Giovanni” recording, my first true love. Classical music is beautiful, and was pretty much all I listened to for a long time.
I was a loner when I was a kid…didn’t have many friends, changed schools a lot, had a tough time. Because of that, I didn’t really have anyone to introduce me to “cool” stuff. I credit my mom’s best friend, a brilliant artist named Pete, for turning me on to the music that saved me from being a total loser. I was about 10 when he started with jazz: the trifecta (Miles, Mingus, Monk, obviously), and Bill Evans, Sonny Clark, Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, and so many more. Then he started in on all the classic blues and R&B and rock & roll, and then when I was maybe 12 or 13, he introduced me to Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Sonic Youth, Blonde Redhead, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Wire, Television, the Talking Heads…And then I took it from there! I started collecting records when I was 17 and then, when I was 20, I met my music mentor Joel Stones at his record shop in New York & he sent me blasting like a rocket into the galaxy of psychedelic rock and funk and soul from all around the world…and I haven’t been back since!
Amazing, from classical to psychedelic rock, that’s a good trip, though…I know you’re into diggin for records, worldwide I’d say. Any particular anecdotes regarding your activity?
I am definitely a serious collector. I honestly don’t think I spend my money on anything other than records and pizza! There are so many amazing recordings out there, lost and waiting to be found. That’s the beauty of it all: I’ll never, ever, ever run out of treasures to find. There will always be a new song to surprise me and blow my mind when I first listen to it, which, to me, is the best feeling in the world! You just can’t do that with CDs and mp3s.
I wish I could say I’ve done worldwide hunting but I’m not very well-traveled. It sucks because I’m kind of bored with American music right now and am much more interested in the period of time around the late 60s, early to mid 70s, when rock and roll began seeping into other countries. (I’m really into Sweden right now.) Anyway, it’s really hard to find stuff like that around here. I kind of dig vicariously through Joel who I mentioned before. He is from Brazil and travels back there a lot, and all over the rest of the world. He has the most extraordinary taste in music plus unlimited knowledge, and has the best digging luck of anyone in the entire world. If you ever meet him, ask him about O’Seis.
I’d say my best digging anecdote just has to do with great luck and scoring a really good deal 2 days in a row. On a road trip last summer, I stopped at a thrift store in Missoula, MT and found a beautiful copy of Lee Hazlewood’s “Forty” for twelve cents! The next day, at another thrift store I found a gorgeous copy of Pharaoh Sanders’ “Tauhid” for $1.50! Those records could both easily sell for 50 bucks (or more) at a record store. That was a pretty great trip.
Lets talk about your soundcloud-driven project, Tapes4ever, a bit: how it all began?
I feel like the art of the mix tape is dying and it makes me sad. It seems to be withering away with our sense of the tangible in this digital world. I’m not a cassette or vinyl fetishist or a snob. I’ll listen to music any way I can if it’s good! But I love making mix tapes and I always have. What it boils down to is sharing music, and cassettes are a really great format for that. Tapes are also so much more fun to decorate than CDs and they’re more durable. And there really is an art to it. As with any mix, and DJing, it doesn’t matter if you have all the “coolest” songs in the world, it’s about how you create a great flow of songs, stringing them together like precious beads. Another great thing about tapes is, I LOVE sneaking hidden songs or movie clips or weird stuff from old radio broadcasts onto the end of a side if there is leftover time. That’s another thing you can’t really do with CDs.
My mix tape resurrection adventure began last year, 2012, in June. I decided that I wanted to make a mix tape of some of my favorite songs, share it, and get people thinking about mix tapes again. I tried to make my tapes extra special and personal. I made a bunch of copies, each one with individual artwork, and started passing them around. I don’t live in Los Angeles but a lot of my closest friends do, so last summer was really one big musical party. I came down to LA probably like 6 times, stayed with my best friend, bought a million records, sold a few tapes, and got a pretty good tan. My friend Ian, who owns Wombleton Records in Los Angeles, is a really amazing guy – he took a chance on my first batch of tapes and set them out in his store. People liked the idea but it didn’t amount to much. It is most certainly a labor of love! My main goal is to make friends, and I have made some amazing ones. Also, I purposely don’t give out track lists. In the insert, I ask people to write me a post card or e-mail me if they’d like one. No post cards yet but I keep paying for my PO Box just in case! A store in San Francisco may soon start carrying my tapes as well so I hope I’ll make more local friends!
At the beginning of this year, I made the tape “Elektrikli Türkiye,” which means Electric Turkey in Turkish. It is a collection of some of my favorite electrified and swirling psychedelic and just plain crazy Turkish 45s from the 1970s. I recorded both sides of it, straight from the tape, onto my Soundcloud page, which is how you found me! People have responded really positively to it. I’ve just made a new mix tape. It is called “Brasil Elétrica,” (Electric Brazil in Portuguese). It is from my collection of electrifying Brazilian psychedelia, funk, soul and crazy stuff. A lot of my records are very rare too, and they need to be shared with like-minded people who will or already do cherish them as much as I do – and cassettes seem to be the perfect format to do that with. I make the inserts for these tapes out of clippings from old Brazilian and Turkish magazines and books that I’ve collected. I also found a deck of Brazilian Tarot cards and I include one in every Brazilian mix. I put a lot of effort into trying to make sure that the tapes look as good as I think they sound!
Something I’m really proud and happy about is recently being a part of the first-ever International Cassette Store Day. My friend Mahssa owns a record store called Mount Analog in Los Angeles and they hosted the celebration on September 7th. She asked me to make 10 of each Turkish and Brazilian tape for the day and every single one of them sold! Hopefully I’ll be getting some post cards soon.
What you cooked up for us in the mix we’re about to hear?
I put together a fun mix of some songs that, when I first heard them, made my heart nearly explode with excitement. Like I said: my favorite feeling in the world. Hopefully, if you are hearing any of them for the first time, you’ll get that feeling too. It’s chock full of Brazilian and Turkish stuff because that’s sort of my specialty. Plus, thanks to magical robot technology that I learned about this year, I was able to stick in a hidden sound clip from one of my favorite movies at the end of the mix! (Extra points if you know what movie it’s from.).
Cant’ wait to hear! Leave your message to the nation and we outta here.
Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes!
Coi migliori saluti da Oakland e dintorni.
Grazie Sam, e a presto!