Canadian Kevin Paisley was a very active member of the underground music scene in the mid to late 1990s. His experimental work jumped over many boundaries and his collaborations were many. His Mutant Cactus label was an important imprint which released not only his music but others as well. He would often make oversized packages or other artful presentation of his work.
his music but others as well. Above, his project. Static Insect. Below, his project called Aardvark housed in a beautiful hand colored and handmade cover.
I didn’t get involved in cassette culture until the early-mid 90s, which was during high school for me. by that point, I was aware of the 80s “hey-dey” of the scene via RRRecords and Forced Exposure mail-order catalogs as well as old fanzines i was getting my hands on through various sources. I had been producing a fanzine of my own (called Third Eye, it eventually changed names to Brain Scan for an issue or two before I called it quits on that) and was involved in the OTHER kind of tape trading (dubbing demos and albums by other artists and swapping those with friends via mail)… I eventually became aware of the on-going home-taper network of the 90s through a fanzine/tape-trading contact, Brian Noring. Brian and I had a mutual “background” in punk and metal and a mutual forward-moving interest in various electronic and experimental types of music; we were both discovering a lot of this stuff at the same time, it seemed. He and i had corresponded already on account of his own FDR (Friends of the Draft Resistance) zine and he soon dove head-first into the home-taping thing via his own FDR Tapes label and his initial project, 360 Sound. of course, it wasn’t long before he roped me into a mail collaboration (which we dubbed Quarantine), where we swapped tapes back and forth adding our own layers til we felt they were complete. i was using pretty crude methods at this point: one playback tape deck and another with a built-in microphone to play back the already-recorded stuff while adding new layers. I think Brian had somehow “macgyver’ed” a tape-based karaoke machine for similar purposes on his end. this eventually spurred me to do my own projects… one with my best friend, called Friction Wound, where we gathered turntables, guitar/effects/amps, my dad’s cheap-o drum machine and various household obejcts around the mic’ed tape deck. at the same time i had introduced a bunch of my local high school friends to japanese bands like the Boredoms and John Zorn’s Naked City and, amazingly enough, about 6 or 7 of them were interested enough to record a C-60 with me attempting to imitate the more “band”-based genre-hopping cacophony of those groups (if not exactly the same level of skill). This project became known as Dim Wit Spirit Chuckers at the suggestion of one of the participants (“Spirit” was originally “Spear” but i changed it at the last minute when i realized the racial implications of the name, lol). These projects were all released on Brian’s label as i hadn’t quite become resourceful enough to run my own label just yet. more on that later, perhaps in a second installment or some such… but for now, Don had asked me to recount some of my earlier experiences, so, there you have it. after high school i continued on with my own solo project which i dubbed Static Insect. after my involvement in home-taping came to a halt (largely thanks to computers and the relative ease of distribution via the internet and early sources like mp3.com, zebox.com, etc), i moved in a more electronic direction. some of the results of those years can be heard here, if you’re so inclined: