Deckhead Records Tells Us Why Cassettes Are Still Cool & How They're Helping Artists Release Them

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Ask anyone over 40 and they might tell you the cassette is dead and then lament over their melted collection, the one that was formerly housed in their red ‘83 Camaro. Heck- even just a few years ago most millennials might have moaned that the tape deck in their car was useful only as a cassette adapter before the ever-present auxiliary (aux) port became standard in car radio. But just as high-waisted jeans and vinyl have made their way back into many of our hearts, so too has the cassette tape. I was recently gifted a Savage Blush cassette by Deckhead Records’ Duncan Bryant, which prompted me to chat further with the classic tape expert about why cassettes are back and how he’s bringing them to ears, cars, and living rooms worldwide with some of Colorado’s own talent. Read on:

Who is Deckhead Records?

Deckhead Records is a two man operation out of Boulder, Colorado. Chris Ferguson and I started the label to help our friends’ bands put out physical music releases. Deckhead is centered around the DIY ethos- we design and assemble all the tapes in-house. It’s definitely a labor of love! We also publish the Chowder Zine, which covers art, music and skateboarding “stuff.”

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How did Deckhead start?

I had the idea of a tape-based record label for a good while. I saw some of the bigger guys like Burger Records and Lolipop Records doing it, and then when I saw what First Base Tapes was doing for the Front Range indie scene, I thought that was something I wanted to do for the garage/psych/alt scene. And it kind of snowballed from there. We’re now working on releases nine and ten, with a few more in the works, so it’s been really rad to see it grow!

Why cassettes?

I’m a big music collector. It started mostly with records, which if you collect records you know how quickly that drains your wallet. Then I rescued an old tape deck out of my work’s dumpster and started getting tapes. At $5 a pop, I could get a few albums for the price of one record, and if I was at a show, I could just shove it in my pocket and carry on. I also started noticing that the bands I love were all putting out tapes in addition to their records. So that whole experience opened up my eyes to how popular tapes are getting (again) and it seemed like a realistic way for Deckhead to get off the ground on a nearly non-existent budget.

Also, from a label standpoint, cassettes are one of the more approachable means of a DIY physical music release. The entire process of making the release can be done in-house for fairly cheap, while still putting out a really high quality tape.

One of Deckhead's releases.

One of Deckhead's releases.

How does Deckhead find the artists you work with?

It’s really a combination of us finding projects and projects finding us. The big thing is we’re not a “tapes for order” company, and we put a lot of consideration into all the releases we take on. I guess what I mean by that is we put out music we’d listen to, and that’s really the first and last thing that we’re concerned with. So if any bands out there have demos, send ‘em to us! We’re focusing on garage/psych/alt stuff and we’re starting to expand into the heavier side of things, but we’re down to check out anything!

What does the tape making process entail?

We basically do the entire process out of my apartment! We get blank tapes and cases, and the rest is on us to dub, design, and assemble the cassettes. It is insanely time-consuming (anyone out there selling a tape duplicator?! hit us up!), but we love doing it, so it’s worth the time and effort that goes into every release. There’s something cool about doing it all yourself and putting out a quality release too.

The Deckhead release that started the author's recent cassette obsession.

The Deckhead release that started the author's recent cassette obsession.

Why do you think cassettes are making a comeback?

I think it all stems from a lot of people still really, really enjoying collecting physical music despite the world being in the “digital music age.” There’s something cool about walking into someone’s living room and seeing a record collection or a tape collection. You flip through that and can learn a lot about a person based on what they decided to make the effort to buy.

Cassettes are funny though. A lot of people seem to be buying them without even having tape decks. It’s kind of the “trading card” mentality. It seems like a lot of people will snag a tape at a show because it’s a cheap keepsake and they can slide it in their pocket and not be bogged down with a big record or poster tube for the rest of the show.

Deckhead's first tape release.

Deckhead's first tape release.

What does the Deckhead current catalogue look like?

We release music we love, and that’s everything from garage/psych stuff, to shoegaze, to stoner metal. We just love good tunes. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve put out since we’ve started:

Past Tape Releases:

  • (DHR001) - GHOSTS (Richomond, VA) - “i don’t know what i’m doing”
  • (DHR002) - GHOSTS (Richmond, VA) - “Ugly Kid”
  • (DHR003) - GHOSTS (Richmond, VA) - “Stupid Boy”
  • (DHR004) - GHOSTS (Richmond, VA) - “Super Star”
  • (DHR005) - False Peaks/Adult Colour (Boulder, CO) - “Split EP” (Local Label Day 2017 Release)
  • (DHR006) - The Savage Blush (Denver, CO) - “DUST EP”
  • (DHR007) - Nocturnal North (Phoenix, AZ) - “Radicle”
  • (DHR008) - The Savage Blush (Denver, CO) - “The Savage Blush”

We also have some more releases in the works for the next six months. We’re really stoked to be focusing more on the Front Range, but we’ll also be doing our first international release early next year with London psych metal band Green Lung.

Coming Up:

  • (DHR009) Slynger (Denver, CO) - “Sharp Teeth”
  • (DHR010) The Amphibious Man (Boulder, CO) - “Silver Alert
  • (DHR???) The Kinky Fingers (Denver, CO) - “Garbage Plate”
  • (DHR???) GHOSTS (Richmond, VA) - TBD
  • (DHR???) Green Lung (London, UK) - TBD
The Deckhead cassette logo found on every release.

The Deckhead cassette logo found on every release.

Righteous. Anything else we should know about Deckhead?

First and foremost, support small music and especially your local music scene! Find shows and go to them. Buy some merch. Tell a band you dig them. “Smaller” bands bust their asses to bring us good music, so we gotta help them stay stoked!

Also, Deckhead Records publishes a zine called Chowder that I mentioned. It’s the brainchild of Deckhead dude Chris Ferguson. It’s art-centric, but also covers skating and music. Volume 1 just came out and is 20 full-color pages of insanity! Check it out!

I think that’s it? Thanks for talking with us. BolderBeat is the sh*t!

Keep up with Deckhead Records and snag a tape for yourself to join the cool kids here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Brought Together Artists & Fans For Four Days Of Awesome

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver’s annual four day music festival The Underground Music Showcase rocked South Broadway last weekend. We crawled the strip, ate nothing but pizza, and almost refused to sleep in the name of good music. Here are some of our favorite things about this year’s festival:

The Bands

Of course we went to as many shows as possible and of course most of them really rocked our socks off. But here we’re going to be shameless and first tell you about the killer acts who played our packed official day party.

Xavier Provencher & Sean Culliton of Retrofette.

Xavier Provencher & Sean Culliton of Retrofette.

BolderBeat & KGNU combined forces this year to bring you Brunch with a Beat at The UMS, which was five hours of sugar and synth by some of Colorado’s most promising electro acts.

Greg Laut of Whiskey Autumn.

Greg Laut of Whiskey Autumn.

Mirror Fears kicked things off with her industrial goth pop, Church Fire kept things movin’ with their Crystal Castles-esque electronic primal therapy, and DéCollage wrapped the front of The Irish Rover in Mylar and swept the stage with their avant-garde pop. Retrofette’s synth stylings followed, and created a massive dance party full of hip-shaking & flash tattoos. Whiskey Autumn’s indie synth pop closed the show; their unreleased track "Birds That Flew" had many whistling along to its chorus. And in between sets, DJ Erin Stereo crushed sweet beats. We gave away tickets to upcoming Future Islands and Thundercat shows, and we passed out donut lollipops, which many showgoers expressed they hoped were laced with weed (they were not kidz).

As for the rest of our UMS:

Anthony Ruptak.

Anthony Ruptak.

Our first official set at UMS 2017 was at Hi-Dive on Thursday with Anthony Ruptak, who started us off with amazing tunes from his new record Don’t Let It Kill You, and even streamed a Facebook live anti-Trump vid from the stage. Punk rock.

Ishka Phoenix of Ghost Tapes.

Ishka Phoenix of Ghost Tapes.

Ghost Tapes were a funky, neo-soul standout at Skylark; frontwoman Ishka Phoenix had the crowd melting as she delivered tasty R&B sounds from her ice cream microphone.

Ben Pisano of Corsicana.

Ben Pisano of Corsicana.

Corsicana gave us tasty indie tunes while we nommed hard on an Illegal Pete’s burrito, which was the only non-pizza item we allowed ourselves for sustenance. The four-piece are playing a couple of big Colorado shows with Hippo Campus this month, so make sure to roll to those.

Chris Scott & Chris Kimmel of OptycNerd.

Chris Scott & Chris Kimmel of OptycNerd.

OptycNerd describe themselves as “eclectro indie pop hop sexy time,” and well, we wish we’d written that ourselves. Their sexy time at Hi-Dive was enjoyed.

Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus brought her dark, operatic vocals to the main stage; Red Fang spouted the classic rock stoner jams they’re known for to a headbanging crowd.

What is cooler than wearing glow-in-the-dark face paint? Glow-in-the-dark guitar strings- DUH. Motion Trap had ‘em at their Rover set on Saturday, and they played their electro sonic disco tunes to a packed house that boogied with them from start to finish.

Mic Carroll of All Chiefs.

Mic Carroll of All Chiefs.

All Chiefs kept us out of the rain at Hi-Dive with their indie rock vibes, Evan Holm & The Restless Ones kicked up some folky soul at Gary Lee’s Motorcycle Club, and GALLERIES played a heartfelt tribute show celebrating the life of late Denver music prodigy Kyle McQueen.

The Outfit.

The Outfit.

Rock’n’roll’s The Outfit played their final set ever at 3 Kings Tavern on Friday to a mosh-ready, beer-heavy crowd who were clearly sad to see them go.

Rebecca Williams of The Savage Blush.

Rebecca Williams of The Savage Blush.

The Savage Blush had a killer psych rock-dripping set at the main stage, Slowcaves brought us chill wave surf rock sounds, and Dragondeer managed to blues rock us almost straight through a downpour, though they had to cut their set a bit short when the rain just about flash-flooded the festival parking lot in true Colorado fashion.

Esmé Patterson.

Esmé Patterson.

Brent Cowles revived a soaking crowd with “Cold Times” when the sun came back out, Esmé Patterson slayed her evening dream rock set with unreleased music and a touching tribute with Kitty Crimes to the late Tyler Despres, and Benjamin Booker crowd surfed his way right into Colorado’s heart, closing out the main stage of the festival Sunday evening.

The Booze

Dewar's Whiskey Emporium.

Dewar's Whiskey Emporium.

Breckenridge Brewing was a main sponsor for The UMS this year and we sipped many an Avalanche by the main stage throughout the fest. Dewar’s had what felt like a tiny house made for drinking with free smells and scotch eggs. It was delicious and why you would have wasted your tongue on any other mixed drink in the hot sun and the pouring rain is beyond us.

The Bunny

Yeah. This one.

Yeah. This one.

Mixed Up Gifts’ pop up shop on South Broadway had some sweet merch for sale from Sacred Bones Records and a creepy night light if you’re in the market to wake up afraid of the dark only to find Jason lurking in your bathroom. But best of all was their bunny, who tried to coerce festival-goers into the shop while eerily reading children’s books through the window.

The Budz

No, not that kind you typical Denverite. Overall, we had a rad time at The UMS this year, and we highly encourage you to check out all the bands we mentioned, all the acts we live-interviewed with Zach Dahmen, and any of the performers on the local lineup in general. Because if there’s one thing we came away with after four days of music-hopping insanity, it was with community- from the performers themselves, to the UMS staff and volunteers, to the eager ticket holders bouncing from show to show hoping to find their next favorite band- Denver came out to support its own. Whether we were playing beach volleyball in the artist tent during a downpour or running from the main stage with our best budz to get back to Broadway for a set (those smarter ones took the Meow Wolf bus), this weekend really showcased you- the local music supporter. And for that, we and apparently Governor Hickenlooper, thank you.

Check out our full photo gallery from The UMS here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.
 

The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Announces Second Round of Artists

The Underground Music Showcase 2017 just announced their second round of artists for this year's festival! Additions include: Headliner Zola Jesus and artists like Bad Licks, Chocolate Diamond, Dear Rabbit, Decatur, Edison, HERESTOFIGHTIN, The Hollow, innerspace, The Kinky Fingers, Ned Garthe Explosion, Retrofette (we should mention here we're premiering something awesome from this band this Friday), Sleepy SunSIR, Sugar Skulls & Marigolds, Sur Ellz, Treehouse Sanctum, Turvy Organ, & more! Make sure to get your tickets for the July 27th-30th festival in the heart of Denver here. And see our previous story for initial lineup announcements at our original announcement link.

Reminiscing on last year's UMS? Peek back at our coverage of 2016:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Initial Lineup Has Arrived

By: Hannah Oreskovich

The long-awaited and highly anticipated Underground Music Showcase 2017 lineup has arrived. With headliners Benjamin Booker, Red Fang, & Esmé Patterson, this year's fest will take place July 27th-30th. Colorado’s Bandits, Britt Margit, This Broken Beat, Bud Bronson & The Goodtimers, Brent Cowles, The Burroughs, Chloe Tang, CITRA, Coastal Wives, Colfax Speed Queen, Corsicana, déCollage, Dirty Few, Dragondeer, Wolf van Elfmand, Evan Holm & The Restless Ones, Gasoline Lollipops, Get Along, Jilly.FM, Joseph Lamar, King Cardinal, Last of the Easy Riders, Loretta Kill, Mawule, Modern Leisure, One Flew West, The Other Black, Povi, RL Cole, The Savage Blush, Silver and Smoke, SIXXXD, Slow Caves, SYCDVK, Television Generation, The Velveteers, Whiskey Autumn, Whole Milk, Wildermiss, and Yasi are just some of the acts on the bill we've featured in the last year, so needless to say, we're stoked on this lineup. And there are more artists still TBA!

Stay tuned for more UMS info and get ready to join us on Denver's South Broadway for one of our favorite events of the summer! Tickets here.

Reminiscing on last year's UMS? Peek back at our coverage of 2016:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

BolderBeat's Tiny Desk Contest Compilation + This Weekend's Shows to See

By: Hannah Oreskovich

You entered. We watched (and listened).

Hey Colorado! A lot of local acts have been working on something awesome the past couple of weeks- their submissions to NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest! As you probably know, NPR has a sweet feature called Tiny Desk, the brainchild of Bob Boilen, who is also the creator of All Songs Considered. Boilen essentially invites artists to play at his desk and their intimate performances are recorded live; often they’re really badass. Check out some of the most recent Tiny Desk performances here.

Last year, NPR started the Tiny Desk Contest, allowing any and every US artist to have a shot at getting an invite to play Boilen’s sought-after desk. The winner was Fantastic Negrito, who you can check out here. This year, the winner will play the Tiny Desk and also appear in a taping of NPR’s Ask Me Another and tour the US with NPR and Lagunitas. We kept seeing so many local band’s submissions pop up that we decided to throw them all in a feature for your viewing pleasure. We were impressed by everyone’s submissions and we're sure you will be too. So give these vids some traffic yo:

Asalott

Pretty sweet collection, eh?

PS: We couldn’t totally forgo our weekend picks, so here are some shows with their event links to check out the next two nights:

Tonight (Friday, 02/05):

Ancient Elk, The Velveteers, and The Savage Blush at Syntax Opera House in Denver

Hunter Stone at Taco Junky in Boulder

Many Mountains with Still Cellars Distillery and Arthouse in Longmont

Whiskey Autumn and Shiny Shoes First Funk Friday at The Bohemian Biergarten in Boulder

Tomorrow (Saturday, 02/06):

Andrew Sturtz at The Infinite Monkey Theorem in Denver

Griz with Special Guests at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom in Denver

Imaginary Pointsmontropo, Glimjack, and Shuad’Dib at The Forge in Boulder

Na’an Stop with Policulture and Realtalk at The Fox Theatre in Boulder

Sam Hozdulick’ Album Release Party with Special Guests at Lost Lake in Denver

Both Nights:

Opening Music Weekend at Cafe Aion featuring Paul Kimbiris and Foxfeather

And don’t forget to tune in Sunday for our partnership with Green Light Radio and Streetside Productions! We will feature Na’an Stop’s “Win a Bagel” in honor of their headlining performance at The Fox this Saturday. Crank your dials to 95.5FM in Boulder Sunday night between 9-10PM, or stream Green Light here. Listen for local!

Thanks for keeping us afloat as we continue to support local music. If you dig what we’re doing, please give us a like on Facebook (especially from your band page so we can keep up with all you do).

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.