Minimal wave big tomato Veronica Vasicka clears the decks for a chat about her latest compilation
When you meet people for the first time, what do you tell them you do?
I tell them that I archive underground electronic music from the 1980s.
Our review calls it “audiophile-archaeologist”, how’s that for a job title?
Lovely! I am obsessed with good sound and also excavating the electronic gems of the past. My goal is to deliver to the listener’s ear, the original sound as it was intended by the artist during the time of the actual recording.
You appear to have the lost tapes market cornered. How’d that happen?
It happened quite naturally. I’ve always had a passion for electronic music and I especially love what people did with machines when they started become accessible in the early 1980s. As a teenager I used to do my own home recordings, as well as having been very much into the “alternative” music scene while growing up. The realisation that endless troves of these tapes exist from all over the world sparked when I began collecting material for my weekly radio show which spanned 2003-2014.
Bedrooms across the world were alight as soon as Portastudios became affordable. You can’t underestimate their importance in all this can you?
Absolutely not. It all started with the Teac 144 in 1979 and what followed was a home recording boom. Not only could anyone with an idea begin recording music, but even studio musicians could work in a way that wasn’t so tied to traditional recording methods.
There must be mountains of lost bedroom tapes…
Definitely. But it’s not simply about the lost bedroom tapes aspect. The tracks we choose are standouts: strong, emotive electronic pop songs. It would certainly be interesting to do an encyclopedic volume of these home recordings though.
You must have a whole pile of rejects? Bet they’re worth a listen!
Yes, there are quite a few rejects. It was hard to narrow it down as there are many wonderful tracks. Everything is worth a listen when you put yourself back to the time they were recording these tracks. They were making ambitious music on a budget with limitations.
Any discoveries that you’re particularly proud of?
The story behind the Denial and Aural Indifference tracks is interesting. I met the artist behind these projects, Brian Hall, quite randomly. He’s an Australian who lives in the East Village a few blocks from where I used to broadcast my radio show. He was dating a girl who lived in my loft building. One day she told me her boyfriend had a project from 1980 called Aural Indifference and asked if I knew it. I’d been playing his tape with no hope of ever tracking him down so was quite shocked to discover that he was literally at my doorstep. It was one of those very rare cosmic coincidences.
This record marks your 66th release, the number of the baby beast! We also notice ‘The Bedroom Tapes’ comes as a limited edition of 999. Do you have a bit of a thing about numbers?
Well, there is a baby beast on the cover actually, my three-year-old daughter Vale who I photographed specifically for this. She’s drawing on my living room walls right now as we speak!