Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Importance of Audio Crowd Sourcing

For over a year now, my project, Notes and Bolts, has acted to document the city of Chicago and its underground music scene by way of recorded interviews and physical releases - all things that have, by and large, been up to my choosing. Sure, I'll try to stay as non-partisan as possible due to my understanding that my point of view is one out of the multitude, and I've followed through on that with some of the guests on the show, a few that (and I won't name names, so please don't ask) I didn't even really care for musically, and even a couple I didn't care for personally. Despite those exceptions, however, N+B has been a platform for me to reflect the things that *I* like about the Chicago underground.

With TCUMA, things are a bit different. There are four of us standing on an equal platform curating what goes into this archive, but there's a lot more room for maleability with this project than my other one. At its root, the four of us have varying tastes to go with our varying opinions, so we feel that builds a solid foundation for the archive from the start. The other thing that I feel makes this project special is that we're building it in such a way where anyone with the ability to capture decent sound recordings can contribute what they have and receive full credit for being there to document.

Chicago isn't something that is left to interpret by only a handful of individuals, and while there are similar archives out there that do what we're doing (I'd imagine every radio station in town have their own personal vaults full), scant few of them are opening their libraries to the public not only to peruse but to contribute to openly. We want The Chicago Underground Music Archive to come to represent the points of view of just as many spectators and participants as the number of bands and artists documented. While our archive is small RIGHT NOW, we want to grow it and cultivate it quickly, but since there are only four sets of hands between those of us organizing this, and only so much time to spend each week due to other obligations, we need as many of you as possible to send in the recordings you've made - we're not particularly concerned with the kind of music (though, certainly, if you lean towards things that sound like Nickelback, we'll cringe while trying to stay as objective as possible), more so, we're intent on building something that everyone can have the space to contribute to.

In addition to that, we know that bands often record their own sets, so if you have recordings of shows you've played recently, feel free to send them in. There's no shame in contributing your own work.

At the end of the day, TCUMA is a community project - an archive for all of us, not something that can be contributed to by only a select few. Claim it as your own and help us build!

- Kriss

Friday, July 12, 2013

New sets in the archive from Toupée, Xina Xurner, and Wimps (rec. in 2012 by Chaeli McDonald), Andy Ortmann, and Videobug (rec. on Wednesday night by Kriss Stress) and nearly a dozen sets from 2011 rec. by Roland Potions. Dig on in!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Welcome to the Chicago Underground Music Archive!

Hanna, Mellie, and I are pretty stoked to get this off the ground. Initially, I began recording live sets with a Tascam to archive shows that I booked through my other project, Notes and Bolts, but after awhile, I started carrying the recorder around to almost every show I went to. 

For years now, I've been fascinated with the Chicago music scene and all of the different layers within it - all of the genres, all of the circles, all of the cross pollination. What's always frustrated me, though, is that there's little searchable evidence of what many bands through several generations were doing when they were active. Some of them went on to make careers from their music while others played tirelessly and recorded a record or two before vanishing while others played around and left without a trace, having left no recorded testament at all. Given the last twenty years and the times we live in technologically, it makes total sense that there are more than plenty of recordings out there languishing on people's hard drives, or on CD-R's, or on cassettes on the shelves of people's apartments. TCUMA is an effort to not only start actively recording and archiving what's going on right now, but to also try to compile everything that came before into one consolidated place where folks can pore through the library freely without having to pay anything to do so. 

I think that from a future standpoint, these recordings will be important. Looking back five or ten years from now - especially in a scene like Chicago's where new bands form every moment while others break up just as quickly - it's important to have a log of what existed so that we can know where we all came from. I know this sounds super mushy and over idealistic, but I can't be the only one that thinks it'd be cool to have extensive recordings of the early 90's when much of the the music scene was centered around venues like Lounge Ax and places that no longer exist.

Hanna, Mellie, and I are recording things in the now and we want folks to join us. If you have a Tascam or a Zoom or a portable recording device that captures atleast decent quality sound, you could be out there at the front of the crowd at a show plugging away, too. And if you have a ton of stuff sitting and collecting digital or physical dust - relics from Chicago's past - and you want it to see the light of day, send it over.

The only stipulation (aside from being sure the recordings are halfway listenable) is that ALL recordings on the archive are of Chicago bands. Bands that formed here, not bands that passed through and played a Chicago venue or even on the same bill with a Chicago band. Out of town bands belong to scenes that have more than ample ability to document themselves, the point of TCUMA is to document what's going on right here.

We hope yr into it!

- Kriss Stress