Thursday, June 5, 2014
Square Zeros Archive: We want your old songs. All of them.
Please excuse this interruption of regularly scheduled programming.
Maybe you’ve been there:
You take a few days off work and make the trip home to visit your family. Your old bedroom in your parents' house is completely different than it was when you lived there. It’s been that way for years, but it’s still kind of jarring every time you see it. You inspect. In the closet there are stacks of boxes filled with the things you didn’t take with you when you left home — old yearbooks, athletic trophies, journals, discarded T-shirts, photos, and other odds and ends you’ve forgotten about. Somewhere buried in all that mess you come across a spool of CD-Rs, an old hard drive, maybe a case of cassette tapes. You recognize your younger, sloppier handwriting:
Your old songs. Recordings that few people have ever heard, if anyone. Primitive stuff. Embarrassing stuff. Revealing stuff.
A big part of our goal here at Square Zeros is to unearth that kind of material and give it a moment in the limelight. Why? For one, it’s fascinating to hear what kind of music our peers were making when their musical skills were limited. We think we all benefit when people volunteer to revisit their early work — it humbles us, and, we hope, gives musicians some reprieve from the pressure to project a market-ready image in our busy and highly competitive music scenes. We also think it makes for richer interviews and more compelling content than the typical Q&A.
But we also love the songs themselves. Musicians right now occupy a unique moment in the history of recorded music. A lot of us grew up and started playing at some point in this this fuzzy period — two, maybe three decades, depending on how you count it — during which recording equipment became cheaper and more accessible, but no consumer-level cloud computing existed. The people who came of age musically during that time had the benefit of being able to record in bedrooms and attics and basements at low cost, but they weren't uploading their material for the world to see. We're stoked to hear ANY independently produced music, but it's the songs recorded in that context that we're particularly interested in. We are products of our generation, after all.
We want to preserve that music — the songs people stored on CD-Rs and cassettes and first generation iMacs before they had the option of putting it into the cloud. And we want to do it before those CD-Rs are scratched beyond recovery, before those tapes get thrown out, before those hard drives get erased.
We need your help.
With this podcast, we've spent the past few months talking to some superb musicians about their formative (so to speak) recordings, and of course the great music they make today. Right now, we have a de facto archive on our SoundCloud account of the old songs our guests have brought in. We want to start formalizing it, turning it into a large, organized, searchable archive of people's independent and unreleased music.
SEND US YOUR STUFF!
This is the first of many calls we'll make for your old work (and new work, if you want!) as we slowly but surely get the Square Zeros music archive off the ground. If you're interested in contributing music to the archive, email us at squarezeros(at)gmail(dot)com. We'll give you some basic guidelines on how to submit your material and how we'll present it. And, of course, we'll give you a fascinating legal agreement to sign so your rights are protected and your high school rap metal hit doesn't wind up in a car commercial or something.
In the meantime, here's some of what I found in the closet in my old room during that last trip to home.
"Modern Cartography" is the (woefully overwrought) opening track from my high school band One Step Forward's second and final album of the same name. We ended up cutting it from most of the copies we burned because it turned out kinda sloppy. The version on the one CD I had of the album was scratched beyond salvaging. Up until now, I wondered whether I'd ever hear this song again.
I also dug up an old tape with recordings of my first experiments on the Tascam four-track recorder I got when I was about 15. I'd just plug in and start layering guitar tracks to get a feel for how the recorder worked. "Bizarro I-III" were songs from a project I called Item Selector, which took its cues from the soundtrack to the Megaman 2 soundtrack, which to this day ranks as one of my favorite instrumental albums ever.
— DJH + JM