Our third instalment of ‘The Listener’ features Tracy Perry, the curator behind Tracy’s Expansion of Presence. Described as “an aural journey across genres”, Tracy’s EOP presents and promotes new and independent music through Spotify playlists, Mixcloud mixes, and an extensive Bandcamp collection. Tracy is a huge supporter of independent artists an labels, and it’s a real privilege to have her in on an RTR feature.
From early explorations of music through the New Age culture, keeping up to date with new music, to the nostalgia of the cassette tape, Tracy’s thoughtful responses for this instalment of ‘The Listener’ highlights the community-driven dedication across all independent music today.
How did you first get introduced to ambient/drone/experimental music?
Back when I used to work in an alternative shop many moons ago, it was at the time described as ‘New Age’. The store was the one with books on crystals, aromatherapy, stone jewelry, alternative therapies/health, clothes and such as well as music. That’s where I was introduced not only to what was then defined as New Age, but also to world music, ambient and experimental as there was a lot of miscellaneous that got lumped in and the shop carried a good selection of different artists. This really helped me when I moved on to college to be open to picking up more music from more genres and varieties of things I hadn’t heard growing up. It also opened the door to being more mindful and introduced using music to put oneself in certain moods. Ambient can be serene but not necessarily, like drone doesn’t mean an endless 1 note either and experimental doesn’t always have to do with kitchen appliances.
What is the one album that you can play over and over without it getting old?
There’s several. ‘Redline’ by Unknown Land; Any album by Azam Ali to include her bands Vas & Niyaz as well as her solo work; Marcome’s ‘Seven Seas’; Deep Forest’s debut self-titled album; all of How To Disappear Completely’s discography.
How do you seek out new music?
I spend a lot of time on Bandcamp discovering new music. I used to spend Saturday evenings just scrolling through Bandcamp listening to music and discovering for years, this was prior to social media. Follow tags on Bandcamp through their app to get suggestions, scroll through their Discovery portion, follow lots of other fans on there to see what others own/buy. Now I also follow enough labels and artists on Facebook and twitter that I can discover just by scrolling through my feeds. I go down rabbit holes, look at an artist timeline, see what they post about for other music, who they follow, or who follows them and just listen. There’s also Spotify, take a listen to others playlists, not the ‘brand name’ ones Spotify puts out, I’m talking about actual independent music show and blog playlists or indie artists playlists. See what people are writing about online, who small labels are excited about. There’s also crowd funding sites like Kickstarter that has a lot of upcoming music by new and existing bands. It’s a great way to discover new music, get in on existing bands upcoming albums, hearing exclusives or just getting behind the scenes pictures, information and videos. There’s a never ending amount of music that comes out in every genre, every style.
Once you’ve found it, what is your perfect listening environment?
I listen at work, in the car, at home, with headphones while waiting for appointments, etc. There’s music for every situation. While I love just listening to vinyl/cassette/CDs at home while relaxing, cleaning, cooking or working at home, I may stream playlists or random shuffling of my own digital collection.
Can you tell us about your favourite new release from the last 12 months?
I really don’t have one. I am friends with a lot of artists and label owners and I know it can be disheartening to not be someone’s favorite or on a list to recommend. So if it’s in my Bandcamp collection or I post about it, it’s recommended.
As RTR is a tape label, we have to ask: What attracts you to the cassette medium?
I grew up on cassettes. I loved having a cassette player in my car and it was the medium to discover new music for a long time even after CDs were the norm. This mostly was because I didn’t have a portable CD player but I did have a tape deck in the car and portable cassette player. I just recently got a new cassette player as my boom box had died a few years ago. I think cassettes are a perfect way to get fans a physical product that they can afford, while also providing that tangible item to show to friends, trade or to borrow. There is something about having a collection to show as opposed to just having saved things on a streaming service, it’s more of an exploration when in groups as people read the liner notes, discuss the music as well as now they can look up the artist and learn more about them and discover more by them. Cassettes, especially now offer a whole host of possibilities for collector’s type items. They can be different colors, have extended inserts, be paired with stickers, buttons, download codes, or as bonus items to other orders. I’ve seen vinyl come with cassette editions not just with CDs or as a bonus with more music. It gives people something of the past while being current.