TIMES A BILLION: A BIG NEW SOUND AND A SMALL BOX OF TAPES
Rec Centre is Alex Hudson and friends, a musical side project that’s been around for a few years and a prime example of DIY music culture. April marked the release of Rec Centre’s second album Times a Billion, which is available for pay-what-you-can on Bandcamp and for sale in the form of green cassette tapes. Alex shared a few words with an “undercover” BeatRoute writer about the project.
“Tapes I like because I am still attached to the physicality of music. Having a product that you look at it. When I was in high school I was obsessed with my CDs and vinyl. Pretty much exclusively. I would buy them when they came out. I think CDs are pretty much obsolete. Vinyl is amazing but extremely expensive and only possible for some. Tapes you can produce in small amounts and for very cheap. I’m aware that everybody is just going to download it anyways and the tape is really meaningless other than something you can hold and look at it. I now have a manifestation just to remind myself that I made this thing once. As much as possible I try to have a nice-looking tape. I had a friend who made some nice-looking artwork and I tried to pull things together to make a little package that you can hold and look at and maybe never even listen to if you don’t have a tape player. It comes with a download. It was mostly for me. I made 50 tapes, not a lot of tapes. If I never sell one than it’s not a huge tragedy. It’s a small box.”
As a matter of fact, we hear that there’s an entire subculture of tape revival going on in the underground DIY music scene. Tapes are a token of non-commercialized music made in the pursuit of low pressure fun. Rec Centre is exactly that, relaxed and fairly organic. In spring 2011 Hudson moved in with Jay Arner who became his producer from his home studio. The songs were recorded one at a time, as they were written. “If you’re just recording at home, why not? Just do it fresh. Do it when it’s taking place in your head,” urges Hudson.
“When I started Rec Centre, I was really trying to pay tribute to the noise ambiance that I was really into. With Times a Billion, as much as possible I wanted to turn it into something mechanical and electronic. Trying to fight against my natural instinct to pile on guitars. Fully out of my comfort zone since I don’t really play synth or keyboard, but that’s what I was going for was that sort of ’80s or even modern synth pop and any bands that had really short, catchy pop songs. I really love that.”
Rec Centre definitely reaches that goal of relaxed-yet-polished pop with Times a Billion. Even the name of the album has an enthusiasm to it, which Hudson cleverly implanted. “It’s easy to say times a billion since in the one sense, it’s an emphasis. Trying to stress something and how important it is, but it also means nothing because you can’t comprehend what a billion means. It’s too much for a brain to understand. If you say ‘I love you times a billion’ on one hand you are trying to emphasize, but on the other hand it renders it ridiculous. It just struck me as fun and since it was in my head it was the title. By the time I had three songs, it was the title.”
Rec Centre will be playing in the lineup of this year’s Music Waste festival, which runs June 6 – 9 in Vancouver.
By Jess BrodeurBC, British Columbia