In conversation with Memory Tapes

Interview by Shannon Lawlor

Dayve Hawk aka Memory Tapes is a musician and producer currently based in New Jersey, USA. Initially conceived under a few renditions, Memory Cassette and Weird Tapes, Hawk finally settled on the moniker Memory Tapes to encapsulate on his then desired approach and signature tone. Memory Tapes has undergone a number of different styles and forms, from experiments in electronic, psychedelic, dream-pop and ambient directions throughout it’s lifespan.

The first Memory Tapes album Seek Magic, was released in 2009 via labels Something In Construction, Sincerely Yours and Acéphale to impressively favourable reviews. In 2011, Memory Tapes would release a sophomore titled Player Piano, seeing a considerable shift in direction. The response to this shift resulted in 2012’s Grace/Confusion released via Carpark Records, which saw a return to familiar territory, as well as further experimentation on development. In 2015, Memory Tapes self-released the single ‘Fallout’ b/w ‘House on Fire’, and has remained somewhat elusive ever since.

We caught up with Memory Tapes on audience reception and self-reflection:

For anyone unfamiliar to Memory Tapes’ mind-bending mesmerism, how would you personally describe the music you produce?

Pretty but awkward.

Memory Tapes has undergone many genre-defying sounds throughout it’s cycle, from elements of chillwave, to synth-pop inspired leanings. Where do you usually seek inspiration from when composing or writing?

It usually starts with an image. I’ll see a painting or photo and imagine what kind of record it could contain. The goal is usually to build a kind of sonic landscape that people can pass through. I never think about genre. Something like ‘chillwave’ only limits who listens and what they’re listening for.

Your last offering Grace / Confusion was released in 2012 via Carpark Records. Pondering back, could you detail the recording process and how it may have differed to past sessions?

With Grace/Confusion, I was feeling the weight of how disappointed people were with Player Piano. There was a conflict between wanting to prove myself but also feeling like no one was listening that was at the core of the process. Something like ‘Sheila’ is ambitious but impractical. I was trying to reach an audience I didn’t understand.

Could you detail the meaning behind the track ‘Fallout’ released in 2015?

After Grace/Confusion, it was pretty clear that my career was over. Most of the people involved with me had moved on. I spent a few years experimenting, trying to figure out what kind of role music was going to play in my life. With ‘Fallout’, I was trying to work more off the cuff – be less obsessive. It was really just a demo that got released because I was doing a handful of final shows. The B-side ‘House On Fire’ probably speaks more to where my head was at.  

Are there any instruments, pieces of hardware or software which you feel is absolutely essential in creating Memory Tapes’ signature sound?

I use everything: hardware/software, analog/digital, vintage/new… it really doesn’t matter. I’ve spent as much time as anyone obsessing over gear but the value is really in how much these things inspire or (more often) distract you.

Are there any other side-projects in the works? If so, will you still focus in on Memory Tapes?

The Memory Cassette full-length could eventually come out, though a large part of me just wants to leave it. There are a few different things I’ve been working on but it’s hard to say if any of it will ever see release.

What does the future hold for Memory Tapes?

I feel like Memory Tapes is over. I’m still writing and playing, but It’s really not clear how that connects to anything outside of my own personal life right now. I can’t make a living as a musician and I have kids now, so I have to be practical about how I spend my time. I think in the past I would have said I was just doing this for myself, but that’s not the truth. I wanted to connect with people in a way that I normally can’t. I think I’ve finally realized that I’m as awkward an artist as I am a person and it’s made me reevaluate some of my choices and expectations. At some point you have to accept that you ‘missed-the-shot’. I haven’t closed the door completely because music is still such a big part of my life, but that’s the honest answer to where it’s at right now. But I have been writing again lately so who knows where that will lead.

Purchase Memory Tapes’ music through Bandcamp

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