From Eugene , Oregon, Heather Perkins is simply one of my all time favorite home recording artists. Her eclectic and wide approach, her unbridled humor and unusually deep voice send me to a place that is hard to describe. From electronic keyboard sonatas to dark-as-the- night ballads, from rocking guitars to cut up kid-like stories; in a way, she is the ultimate home taper: doing anything and doing it magnificently.
It was 1987. I was living in Eugene, in a big house by myself. I had just gotten kicked out of my first band, so I decided to become my own band. I’d recorded pretty much all my life, but the cassette 4 tracks were coming out, and it was a revelation. Someone like me could have a studio in their living room, and play all the parts themselves! So I took out a loan from the credit union to buy a Tascam 4-track, a digital delay, a drum machine, and a microphone. I started recording, and was having a blast – and then someone asked me “What are you going to DO with the tapes you make?” I hadn’t thought of that. Someone told me about a ‘zine for tape-traders, which I found at the local indie record store. In the back of the magazine were the tape trader listings. I saw a listing and address for Don Campau, who had just come out with a double cassette called “Pinata Party” that got a great review. So I sent him a cassette, and he sent me “PInata Party.” It was amazing, so full of joy and like nothing I’d ever heard before. It totally rocked. I was hooked. I traded tapes from then on, with people all over the world. This was before the internet, kids, so we did it all with stamps and envelopes and stuff. So even someone like me, working alone in her living room, could find connection and community with people all over the world – even collaboration! I collaborated through the mail with people like Don, Kevyn Dymond, Dan Fioretti, Tom Burris… I even met some of the people when they came through town. And I traded tapes until it became overwhelming to listen to everything I got – I started to not have time to do it right. So, sadly, I stopped trading. But it was one of the best and most defining parts of my musical life.