Trevor Uberuaga on His Love for Cassettes and Life's a Beach Fest | Backbeat | Denver | Denver Westword | The Leading Independent News Source in Denver, Colorado

Trevor Uberuaga on His Love for Cassettes and Life's a Beach Fest

Since moving to Denver from Boise, Idaho in 2012, Trevor Uberuaga has fully immersed himself into the Denver music scene. His cassette-only label, Heart in Box Records, has released albums by the Dirty Few, Zebroids, Ned Garthe Explosion and several others. Uberuaga has had a life-long passion for tapes, and...
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Since moving to Denver from Boise, Idaho, in 2004, Trevor Uberuaga has fully immersed himself into the Denver music scene. His cassette-only label, Heart in Box Records, has released albums by the Dirty Few, Zebroids, Ned Garthe Explosion and several others. Uberuaga has had a lifelong passion for tapes, and insists his love for them is real and not a passing phase. This Saturday, at 3 Kings Tavern, Uberuaga is throwing the Life's a Beach Fest, featuring Heart on Box Artists from Denver, Texas, New York and Idaho.

We caught up with Uberuaga and asked him about the Life's a Beach Fest and why he just can't let the cassette tape go. 

Andy Thomas: What was the first tape you ever owned?

Trevor Uberuaga: Beach Boys - Surfin' Safari.

Cassette labels have been popping up all over the place lately. How do you feel about some of their models, which is basically a "pay to play" model? (A model that asks the bands to pay for their product in exchange for publicity, turning very few away) 

Cassettes are coming back into the public market at an alarming rate. As a collector and lifelong lover of the format, I couldn't be happier! Every label sets up its business differently. I personally don't endorse the "pay-to-play" model but can understand the appeal. If the label has reached a recognizable level and has access to national distribution, than I can see the advantages of paying to be on that label. Some labels carry a certain status with their name after their bands become more popular and if your band is on a popular label you can achieve automatic credibility. I think that is what every label is ultimately striving for, providing something that everybody wants to be a part of, because what you provide is undeniably cool. Some tape labels are doing big nationwide releases from big-named artists. Some are buying the rights and re-releasing forgotten gems to a new generation of listeners. Others are doing small-run boutique releases of their favorite underground local groups. There are now so many awesome indie-cassette labels out there putting out awesome music on tape. If you are buying new cassette releases, then you already know all about it. I encourage everyone to find a working boombox and start buying more tapes! Don't worry, most releases come with a download code included!
Check out your local Denver labels like Snappy Little Numbers Recordings, Added Warmth Records, Planted Tapes and Tiny Amp Records!

Why do you have such an affinity for cassettes? 

The way I see it, cassettes are the best media format ever introduced to the public. They are durable, lightweight, compact, easy to store and hold a long-lasting, high-quality fidelity. They don't skip, they can't be corrupted, if they break you can fix them, and as long as you don't leave them on your dashboard, they will last damn near forever. CD's were a joke! I say "were" because compact discs are dead. I hate CDs! With the introduction of mp3s and the shortage of vinyl pressing companies across the country, the music industry in the early 2000s was almost dried up. Cassettes have made such a strong comeback for several reasons. They are cheap to make, they come in tons of cool colors, they have a rare nostalgic quality and have offered a small breath of new life to labels old and new. It's also much easier for touring bands to sell a $5 full-length tape over a $20 full-length vinyl. I've loved tapes for as long as I can remember. My mother owned a hair salon in downtown Boise, and her business partner would always give me old Grateful Dead  and mixtapes from early-'90s bands. I listened to them constantly. I never went anywhere as a kid without my Walkman! I still have all my tapes from my youth in my collection, as well as about 2,500 more from over the years.

Talk about Life's a Beach Fest. What is the history, and what made you decide to do this?

I had always wanted to put on a music festival. The idea for Life's a Beach Fest came from the momentum and camaraderie that was coming from the community surrounding this music scene. I wanted one day of music that would showcase what an amazing group of musicians Denver had to offer. I wanted to bring the bands I worked with from Boise — Clarke and the Himselfs and Toy Zoo — to come out and play with their label mates and experience the magical energy of this music scene. I wanted to stand in the back of the room and see all my friends, old and new, having the best day of the summer without corporate sponsors and insane ticket prices. I wanted the focus to be on the music, the artist making the music and the audience enjoying it all.

The first Life's a Beach Fest was in 2013. I rented a warehouse space on Mariposa and Tenth. I rented a sound system and hired some friends to help me out throughout the day. We had fifteen bands, hundreds of beers, local vendors and food trucks, beach balls and squirt guns, all for just five bucks! It could have gone horribly wrong, but Denver has the best music scene in the country, and at end of the day, close to 500 people had come out to party!

It helped bring the community together in a whole new way and gave me a reason to try and do it every year after.

Last summer, while planning Life's a Beach Fest 2014, I lost my father to cancer. I was devastated. He was always my biggest supporter and had encouraged me to always follow my biggest dreams, no matter how big or crazy they seemed.

I decided to put Life's a Beach Fest off for a year to deal with the loss. This is why this year's fest is so important to me personally.

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