Label Profile: Orchid Tapes

11 Nov 2013 — Andi Wilson

It's challenging to portray the emotions obtained from watching something you really love and believe in grow tremendously, like a flower. Or rather, an orchid. In an environment such as Brooklyn, the aspect of community can be one of the most difficult things to achieve. With the continuance of bustling, competition, among other strivings in this enormous city; the most imtinate and gratifying moments have been spent knowing we have community and each other in the music scene. Being said, there are aspirant people here that are achieving and sharing intermutual relationships digitally and virtually in an extroardinary way. In this case, a label few and far between. Today we share the thoughts, devotions, and a very personal interview from Warren Hildebrand, founder of Orchid Tapes.

AW: When and where did the idea of Orchid Tapes first begin and how did it evolve into becoming an actual label?

WB: Orchid Tapes was first conceptualized in late 2009 right after I moved out for the first time and into a small apartment in downtown Toronto, I had already released a few tapes as Foxes in Fiction while living at my Mom’s house in the suburbs but I hadn’t put them out under any kind of name or anything. In February 2010 I released Swung from The Branches and it was kind of the official kick-off for Orchid Tapes existing. For the first few chapters of it’s life it really felt more like a pet project than an actual legitimate label, it took bringing Brian Vu onboard with the label and getting to know some really talented musician friends to really bring it into it’s current incarnation.

From top left to right: Foxes in Fiction, R.L. Kelly, and Happy Trendy performing at the first Orchid Tapes showcase. May 18th 2013 @ Living Bread in Brooklyn. Photo set by Daniel Dorsa.

AW: What was the initial response like for Swung From the Branches being OT’s first release in 2010?

How has OT changed in growth since the first few releases?

WB: The initial response to that album was really swift and weird and unexpected. It’s a really long and convoluted story, but a few days after I posted the record for free on my old Blogspot a completely renamed and retitled version ended up going viral on 4chan and there were a bunch of rumours circulating that it was secret side project of Bradford Cox or something stupid. Some blogs ended up picking up the story in an attempt to figure out who was behind the album, and I did my best to try and clear everything up. Thankfully it didn’t become too much of a viral wildfire before I intervened and everyone who heard it was able to put the proper name to the project. I think all-in-all it was more of blessing in disguise because that weird wave of awareness around that album is definitely one of the big things that caused people to hear that album. Just a month after it happened Pitchfork ended up posting some of my music, which was really cool and unexpected. The internet is insane.

Orchid Tapes today is almost completely different than when it was when I first started it. In the beginning I didn’t really know too many musicians who had much interest in releasing things on a brand new label (this was right after Arcade Sound Ltd. had been revealed to be a scam label so there was an understandable amount of apprehension hanging around a lot of people that I associated with). Also, a lot of the early releases I did were really amazing, but I don’t think there was much of the sense of cohesion or togetherness that defines the label these days. I would basically just say ‘yes’ to anyone who asked to do a release, and got turned down by 95% of the people I would ask to put out a tape.

Even just in terms of resources, there’s a lot more available to now; for the first 20 releases I would dub every single cassette tape on my stereo tape deck, which would literally take days and days to finish. It wasn’t until last fall that I got a proper cassette duplicator. Also, since moving to New York it’s become a lot easier to get things like blank tapes, j-cards and other goodies that we use to put our packages together. And there’s two of us now, which is great!

From left to right: Coma Cinema and Alex G performing at the first Orchid Tapes showcase. May 18th 2013 @ Living Bread in Brooklyn.

AW: What have been some of your biggest accomplishments/struggles with OT?

What kind of advice would you recommend to anyone wanting to start their own DIY label?

WB: For me, the biggest accomplishments have been the three showcases that we’ve done this year. Not only were they fun in every way, but they represented a culmination of everything positive that’s happened for Orchid Tapes, my music and the music made by all the people I’ve become so close with in the past three and a half years. It’s one thing to have a cool project like this that’s based largely on the internet, but to have a group of bands / musicians come together for one show AND have people actually come out to listen is a really amazing and indescribable thing. Definitely some top 10 life moments in there. To someone thinking of starting their own DIY, I would recommend to just start small and be very ambitious and dedicated with it. It can seem sort of daunting at first but the more love you put into it the more you’ll get out of it.

AW: How have you found most of the artists you release on OT? Internet relationships, shows, through friends?

WB: Most of the releases we’ve done have been the product of internet relationships. Thankfully we’ve all met and hung out in real life a bunch of times now but I had become internet friends with people like Mat (Elvis Depressedly / Coma Cinema), Rachel (RL Kelly) and Dylan (HAPPY TRENDY) long before we ever made any plans for them to release music on Orchid Tapes, but that’s been a really nice thing, and it’s made doing releases a lot more fun and easy going since everything’s discussed and arranged just as a friends. I also met Tom of Home Alone after he started dating my best friend Amanda, and I met Dan of Four Visions, who we’re working on a release for right now, at a show we both played in Brooklyn.

AW: Having seen two out of the three OT showcases, it has been so impressive to witness how cohesive and moving they have been, especially to the community here in Brooklyn. Were the showcases relatively easy to organize?

WB: Aw thanks! Honestly, we had no idea how the first one was going to turn out and it was a total shock to see that many people show up and have there be such feeling of positivity. It’s all really thanks to all the bands and musicians who travelled from so far away to come and play, and to the fans who travelled just as equal amounts of distances to come and see us do our thing. There was a lot of organization that went into planning each one, but it definitely wasn’t as much as I thought it would be; we’ve been really lucky with the spaces and organizers that we’ve worked with who’ve helped to make everything a lot easier for us.

From top left to right: Julia Brown, Four Visions + Warren, and Home Alone performing at the third Orchid Tapes showcase during CMJ. October 19th, 2013.

AW: Ricky Eat Acid’s ‘Three Love Songs’ will be OT’s first vinyl release. Do you think there will be more vinyl releases in the future?

WB: Definitely, this is something that we’ve wanted to branch off into for a long time, and I think this is the perfect record for us to start off on a new format with. It’s honestly such an incredible album and we’re so excited to be involved in releasing it. We’re still in the planning stages with everything, but there’s gonna be a lot of neat extras and pretty things included with the physical release. Stay tuned.

You can visit Orchid Tapes' website and bandcamp for details and news on upcoming releases and events.