Electronic-music imprint Always Human Tapes is putting on a showcase of its artists over three days at the ATLAS Black Box Theater on the CU Boulder campus and at 1010 Workshop in Denver. Ryan Wurst founded the label in the summer of 2013 while earning his master's degree in visual arts in Minneapolis. What still remains a small operation, with over 65 releases over three years, was born of a basic frustration common to many musicians: “I sent out demos and didn't hear back," Wurst says. "And [so I] figured it out and invited friends to release tapes as well, and it's gone out of control now.”
While still in Minneapolis, Wurst was able to regularly showcase artists on his label, with partners Josh Bestgen and Peter Lansky as well as the broader community of artists making experimental dance music. Then he was offered a night at the legendary Seventh Street Entry, the smaller venue attached to First Avenue, where many well known bands from Minneapolis, like Hüsker Dü and the Replacements, often played during their heyday.
After finishing up his master's, Wurst was encouraged by his undergrad mentor, CU art professor Michael Theodore, to apply for a program back in Colorado to earn a Ph.D. in Intermedia Arts, Writing and Performance. That move has more or less afforded Wurst the opportunity to do what he loves with multimedia art and music as well as teach related courses and serve as research assistant to Theodore in developing visionary creative work.
One day, Theodore inquired about Wurst's label and suggested having an event to highlight the kinds of music that it releases, using the ATLAS Black Box. This venue is an immersive-environment theater with Dolby 5.1 surround sound and a potential for a 360-degree visual screen. With fifteen-foot screens, the Boulder showcase promises to be an unforgettable experience. The Friday-night event at 1010 Workshop will be more of a traditional dance-music environment.
With his experience with music and art technology, one might assume that a tape label would not be Wurst's first choice — that he would put his funding and energies into digital releases and vinyl instead. But for Wurst, who has connected with like-minded artists like VIDKIDZ (who will provide visuals for the Saturday showcase), making a small physical release, such as a run of fifty tapes, is a manifestation of the effort to create community,
“You hear people say they like the sound and they like the warmth,” says Wurst. “But I'm doing tapes out of functionality. As a record label, I don't want to just put out digital, because I'm not putting effort in for the music or the artist. If you're doing music in that realm, you're a facilitator, and you're there to help push forward the artist's vision in any way possible. I can't afford to do vinyl, but if I had enough money, I would, because that's such a great medium. The effort going into vinyl is a totally different level because of everything you have to go through with the pressing and the art. The resources going into it is up there. Tapes make that connection stronger and put the music into the world physically. I cut and fold all the J-cards. [By doing this, we] want to inspire artists to make more music. We don't curate, we just get interested in people.”
Look below for the schedule of events; for more information about Always Human Tapes artists and releases, please visit alwayshumantapes.com.
Always Human Tapes Showcase Night 1: Panspermia and Pete Sheridan, Thursday, October 27, 8-9:30 p.m., ATLAS Black Box Theater, 303-735-4577, free
Always Human Tapes Showcase Night 2: DJ Drew, Lone Dancer, Heckadecimal, Soul Tangler and TML, Friday, October 28, 10 p.m., 1010 Workshop, 720-581-6666, $10 before midnight, $15 after
Always Human Tapes Showcase Night 3: Sunk, Yellow Hyper Balls and live visuals from VIDKIDZ and Heckadecimal, Saturday, October 29, 8-9:30 p.m., ATLAS Black Box Theater , 303-735-4577, free.