Published Dec 06, 2010Based in Batchawana Bay, ON, Scotch Tapes has become more than a hobby for fisherman/label boss Al Bjornaa. With hundreds of cassettes, vinyl records and limited lathes released since launching the label, Bjornaa has shipped releases around the world from notable acts like Young Governor, Shearing Pinx, Gobble Gobble and many others. However, until recently, the future of Scotch was a little uncertain for 2011.
This year was a rough one for Bjornaa personally. His father, who runs the fishing company Bjornaa works for, was out sick with a blood clot for six weeks, leaving his son in charge. Then, in the summer, Bjornaa's grandfather passed away, which was followed by the news that his grandmother's kidneys are failing and she needs dialysis three times a week.
"I have done my best to keep the family business going through all of these issues but we have had to miss a lot of work because of everything," he explains in an interview with Exclaim! "Now our season is almost over and bills are piling up."
Rather than ask for charity elsewhere, Bjornaa reached out the vast community of Canadian artists he knows to create a Scotch Tapes singles club. "I got the idea from some other small labels," he said, referring to labels like HoZac and Shattered who have run vinyl singles clubs in the past. "The only difference is that I will be using tapes instead of vinyl. I feel that those other labels ran into a lot of unnecessary trouble because they had to rely on the record plants. If there was a delay, customers became upset and things sort of snowballed from there. Because I dub my own tapes, I don't think delays will be an issue."
Just days after he first sent out an email to acts, Bjornaa came back with an impressive list of participants that include Young Governor, Play Guitar, Myelin Sheaths, Mess Folk, Fuck Montreal, Crosss, Broken Deer, Great Slave Lake, Couples, Grown-Ups, the Lindbergh Line, Terrorbird, Man Legs, Faux Fur, Freelove Fenner, White Wires, Ketamines, Silver Dapple, Brazilian Money, Rebecca's Room, Compostainer, Special Noise, Generic Shit and B-Lines, with a split from Lethbridge garage punks the Moby Dicks and Fist City kicking off the series on January 7.
The subscriptions will be limited to 100 members, with slots filling up quickly. The series includes a total of 14 tapes: one cassingle every four weeks and a larger compilation at the end of the year. As he explains, "By doing it this way I can order my stock in bulk, get a larger discount and hopefully turn a larger profit. The bands have all donated their songs. That's a huge deal for me and my family. The only real financial goal is to eat this winter and not have to end Scotch Tapes."
More than that, Bjornaa is driven by a desire to keep championing the Canadian artists he loves. "I am hoping to help promote Canadian music and shed some light on lesser known bands that might not get the attention they deserve," he says. "This is a fairly large undertaking and I think its going to be an important chapter in Canadian underground music. All the bands are terrific and everyone who subscribes will be getting some of the best music this country has to offer."
While the Scotch site is undergoing a major overhaul, the best way to get on the subscription list is to contact Bjornaa at [email protected] Subscriptions are priced at $65 in Canada, $75 in the United States and $100 internationally.