Below is an excerpt from an interview with Veronica Vasicka about The Minimal Wave Tapes Vol. 2. Interview, photos & an exclusive mix published in Dazed & Confused, March 2012. Text by Tim Noakes, Photo Maurizio Bavutti.

Reissuing long-forgotten dusty gems of obscure early 80s synth experimentalism, Veronica Vasicka’s Minimal Wave imprint is one of the most intriguing underground music portals in the world. Characterised by DIY performances, raw electronic sounds and a punk attitude, over the last seven years Vasicka’s compilations, mixes and East Village Radio show have helped expose hitherto unheralded artists such as Das Ding, Turquoise Days, Oppenheimer Analysis, Felix Kubin and Hard Corps to a new generation.

A self-confessed “musical detective” who spends all her spare time tracking down the creators of these rare, usually European, masterpieces, this month Vasicka releases The Minimal Wave Tapes: Volume 2 in collaboration with Stones Throw Records.

Dazed & Confused: Was minimal wave a direct reaction to glossy 80s synth-pop?
Veronica Vasicka: I don’t think it was a direct response to what was happening in pop music, it just had to do with the newfound respectability of using synthesisers. The majority of the artists weren’t expressing frustration, they were just expressing themselves and the period. It was purely an artistic mission. I don’t think people were playing and recording to become pop stars. They were self-expressing.

D&C: Did they regard themselves as punks?
Veronica Vasicka: Some of them, definitely. They were making weird sounds that weren’t acceptable yet. In a way it was completely punk because it was new and it didn’t really reach pop until later on. It was a new form of expression. A lot of these people actually knew each other through zines – people from around the world would connect through zine collections.

D&C: I love how Ohama introduces his song by saying, ‘I am Ohama and I live on a potato farm in western Canada’…
Veronica Vasicka: Yeah! His parents were potato farmers, originally from Japan. The way he discovered synthesisers was on his way to judo class – he saw a synth in the window and just became obsessed with having one. I think at first Ohama was feeling very lonely and felt the need to express himself. In many cases these artists felt some sort of isolation and wanted to reach out and touch other artists. I just love the idea of a cassette taking weeks to get to a destination and then another few weeks to get back.

D&C: Do you think modern music suffers from a lack of expectation?
Veronica Vasicka: Everything is instantaneous, but in that time it was just the mail and I feel that is reflected in the music. It is a slower process, very handmade – the human error is apparent in the music. You can hear that it is not perfect, which I think is a lot of the problem with music today. With computers and the fact that people can create music in a way that is instantaneous and perfect, I think it becomes problematic.

D&C: When you started going through these records did you feel a hint of sadness that these bands didn’t receive the recognition that they deserved?
Veronica Vasicka: I did think, ‘How can all of this been overlooked? There is just so much of it!’ Sometimes they were just doing music as a hobby and they didn’t feel the need to go beyond releasing a few tapes. For others a lot of it had to do with a lack of market for the music. It is difficult music and not always so easy to digest and so, in relation to what was happening to music at the time, mainstream pop was like candy in comparison. Perhaps if the internet had existed at that time they might have had more of a chance.

D&C: Do you find the amateur aspect of the records a big part of their appeal?
Veronica Vasicka: I love that there is often a lack of self-consciousness that occurs with these artists – that they aren’t thinking about the audience, they’re just making this stuff for themselves. It is totally endearing. It definitely charms me. The connection between the listener and the creator is more immediate – you can just imagine Ohama on his potato farm recording his music, and he is announcing, ‘This is what I do, take it or leave it.’


Also see:
Video: Ruins “Fire!” from The Minimal Wave Tapes Vol. 2
Video: Hard Corps "Dirty" from The Minimal Wave Tapes Vol. 2
The Minimal Wave Tapes Vol. 1 (Stones Throw, 2010)
Minimal Wave Slipmats