We do love a cassette here at R$N. UK-based Blue Tapes are a label who've embraced the medium since starting life in 2012, putting out a wide breadth of music from experimental and drone to lo-fi noise pop and improvised jazz.
Label boss David McNamee AKA Cut A Lonely Figure takes care of the aesthetic too, with each release paired with a bespoke artwork that extends to a cohesive overall visual for the imprint.
For this week's Monday Is OK mix, he gives us a taste of some of the influences and sounds that run through Blue Tapes veins, weaving together reverb-soaked ambient, wistful avant-pop and contemporary jazz...
Please introduce yourself... Who are you, where are you, what are you?
My name is David McNamee, I run a small record label called Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records, and make my own music as Cut A Lonely Figure. I am currently at home, exporting stems and uploading files, like I am every night!
Tell us about the Monday mixtape you’ve put together for us.
It's basically what Blue Tapes would sound like if I had more money. It doesn't feature any of our music, but it does feature recent work from artists we've worked with - Katie Gately, Kira May, Cadu Tenorio, and Yan + Teruyuki Kurihara. The others are all artists I would love to work with if money were no obstacle.
If it were to be drawn what would it look like?
A Rothko painting.
What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?
You can be anywhere but your headphones must be loud and your eyes must be closed.
Are you on the same wavelength as the boomtown rats or do you actually like Mondays?
I guess I don't mind them because they're usually shorter than you think they're gonna be. Tuesdays to Thursdays all seem to last for weeks, though.
Who got you hooked on electronic music?
I don't know. I definitely don't listen exclusively to electronic music. When I make music myself, for example, I like to combine electronic and acoustic textures. Probably the first musicians who exclusively worked in instrumental electronic music that really engaged me were people like Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, and particularly Autechre.
Who would you say are your biggest influences and what are you hoping to achieve with your music?
In terms of the music I make myself, some of the enduring influences have been Tony Conrad & Faust, Pan Sonic, Stars of The Lid, Fonal Records. Blue Tapes itself was slightly influenced by the tape labels Stunned and The Tapeworm. With both projects I am trying to curate and arrange sounds that have a deep and penetrating effect on me. The only difference is that Blue Tapes is other people's sounds paired with my visual art, and my music is my sounds paired with other people's visual art.
What were your original aspirations as musicians and how do you think you're shaping up?
My only aspiration with my music is to make things and try to relieve the pressure in my brain of unrealised ideas building up. With the label, I want to build up a body of - eventually - 100 physical products that each function as an art object in their own right. They are intended to work cohesively, with a unified look. Musically I think they often either have spiritual, meditative feeling or are playful and unashamed in breaking rules.
What was the first electronic record you heard and how did it make you feel?
Not sure if it counts because there are live drums, bass, viola and of course vocals, but Gary Numan's The Pleasure Principle was maybe the first big "electronic" record I heard. At first I found it a bit alienating and weird, but he went on to become one of my favourite artists. In terms of the artists I mentioned before - Tri Repetae, Music Has The Right To Children and the Richard D. James album were an effective gateway drug into electronic music from the guitar-based music I'd previously been into.
How does your brain work when making music? How does it work when you aren’t?
In terms of playing I try to be as intuitive and focused and in-the-moment as possible. Editing is another matter - it lights up the problem solving areas of my brain, which brings its own challenges and dopamine rewards.
What were the first and last records you bought?
I think the first album I probably bought that wasn't a compilation was Ride The Lightning by Metallica. The last one was actually the anniversary deluxe edition of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
The musicians that I compiled in my mix!
Some self help questions for a Monday...
Am I excited to dive into the challenges that I have lined up for the week?
Not really, but let's give it a go.
Am I looking forward to engaging with the people I am meeting or working with?
I like working with anyone that is open-minded, solutions-orientated and respectful, of which the people I work with mostly are.
Am I going to my dream job?
I'm not sure dream anythings really exist.
Am I being compensated fairly for the value I bring to my job?
I'm not complaining.
Do I feel energised, rested, and confident?
Unfortunately not! Covered in severe and painful eczema at the moment, all over my body. Unable to sleep or move easily. Putting the final touches to a new album has helped distract me though from feeling like my body is disintegrating atom by atom.
Your doctor says you need more exercise.... what do you take up for exercise?
My medical conditions make it very hard to exercise but when I'm well enough I do enjoy walking briskly, by myself, with loud dance music on the headphones.
What's your answer to everything?
A hesitant OK.
Anything else we need to discuss?
Nope! Words reduce everything.
yan + Teruyuki Kurihara - F
Tangents - Immersion (Katie Gately remix)
Julia Reidy - Of Neither
Shuta Hasunuma, U-zhaan - Dryer
Kira May - Muscle Memory
Ose - Drown Out The Noise With Your Silence
Cadu Tenorio - To Breathe My Last Floating in a Sea of Blood, My Face Buried in My Own Intestines
Kate NV - двA TWO
Ariel Kalma - Ditty Forest
Park Jiha - The Longing of the Yawning Divide
Jonny Greenwood - Never Cursed
Kamasi Washington - Truth
Follow Blue Tapes.
Enjoy this article? Want more?
You can support Ransom Note and independent journalism through our Patreon campaign now.
Become a friend of Ransom Note