|With over 200 titles offered through the Sound of Pig Cassette Mail Order Catalogue, Al Margolis has certainly earned his title as "Cassette Godfather"
Here are two insightful articles by Al which originally appeared in the book Cassette Mythos. Edited by Robin James and published by Autonomedia in 1992, Mythos comprises an exhaustive collection of essays, reports, stories, and manifestos surrounding the home tapers network. This book is perhaps the single greatest source of documented information on the Cassette Culture. Authors include Miekal And, Chadbourne, Chochololak, Chris Cutler, Amy Denio, Dave Mandl, Fioretti, Harkey, Carl Howard, James McGee, Minoy, Stevie Moore, Gen Ken, Myers, Plantenga, Neil Strauss, and many more. Get a copy if you can still find one!
1985 by Al Margolis
(from Cassette Mythos, 1992)
Cassettes, cassettes, cassettes -- What do they mean? These days, everything! Who would have thought when I started getting involved with them -- first through the purchase of them from the artists, and then starting to release my own -- that I would become enslaved to the dreaded cassette? The need to score tapes, hear more tapes, trade for more tapes, hear from people who have more tapes -- I got hooked. And like any good junkie, I keep slipping (or, should I say diving?) deeper into it. So now when I come home at night I start shaking, wondering "are there any little packages for me?" I never thought that Sound of Pig music would grow into a catalog of ten releases; that I would be in contact with people all over the world; that for every compilation I do, I receive enough material for two more; that I would receive letters on fancy looking stationery addressed to "Promotional Director" or "President". But it's true, and that's the beauty of the cassette revolution: anybody and everybody can get involved and be heard -- there are lots of people out there who want to hear something new.
That's one of the reasons behind the existence of Sound of Pig, and particularly compilations: to help the artists be HEARD by others. It's a good feeling when someone lets me know that because they appeared on one of my tapes someone contacted them or came to see them. If that happens I've been successful. And more and more I see compilations as an art form in their own right: never before have these particular artists appeared together, so the resulting trip is, in a sense, a musical composition of its own.
Working as pretty much a one-person operation has also given me the chance to cover all areas of what needs to be done: artwork, distribution, promotion, finances. It's been an excellent experience, and I've learned quite a bit. Unfortunately, being on quite a low (read: "non-existent") budget has meant that while the catalog is expanding, I can never quite get enough tapes out. Things are released in dribs and drabs as I can afford them. Back to the search for that great tape score...
There are a lot of people out there who are doing a great job of making music -- doing distribution, putting out magazines, helping to network, and just being inspiring. One idea / ideal / hope that I have is the possibility within the network of perhaps the further pooling of resources, so that for a tape of a band or a compilation, perhaps one person can do the covers and printing, one the compilation, another the duping -- something along those lines. I don't know if it's practical or possible. It's just a thought / suggestion for the time being. Any ideas? SUPPORT YOUR INDEPENCE!!!
1990 by Al Margolis
(from Cassette Mythos, 1992)
Once again, I write an update (the second one) to my original piece from 1985. As I reread [the original] I notice that while the whole "cassette thing" has greatly blossomed and expanded, a great deal of what was written remains the same. SOP is still a one-person operation (with occasional assistance), I still can't quite get out enough tapes (though I have close to three hundred releases now), and still I don't have enough time or money.
0f course, much is also changing, and this book is a testament to that. It has taken years to put it together, and much of it will be out of date almost immediately. This also reflects the great number of people who have come and gone within the whole thing (I hesitate to use the words "work" or "underground" because if they were ever applicable -- which is doubtful -- they certainly aren't now). It's funny because now that so many people are making tapes, which is the point of all this, it has become impossible to get in touch with everyone doing something interesting. But particularly in the midddle of 1990, with the record censorship and [parental advisory] labeling mess going on, it is great that more and more people are taking the means of musical production into their own hands.
As the mainstream becomes blander and many people making music means having to wade through more garbage, [this revolution] is crucial, to outside arbiters of "taste" and "worthiness" anyway. So as many people plug away and move on to other things and expand their options, it is still important to remember: SUPPORT YOUR INDEPENDENCE!!!