A Conversation With Tasty Morsels



Tasty Morsels is inclusive. Despite being a collective of tight-knit friends, this collective eschews any closed-offedness that might normally be associated with such bonds. Instead, their inimitable touch for soft psychedelia, predilections for gardening, and completely free sharity approach to releasing music offer a warm welcome to any curious passer-by. I had the chance to peek over the edge of the hedge and ask the Tasty Morsels family about what is behind their wonderfully maintained rows of musical vegetation.

Tasty Morsels is, most simply, a record label. But in the past you have been called a “net-label” or a “digital-label.” Why do you think there is such an emphasis on differentiating between traditional labels and online labels? With this in mind how would you define Tasty Morsels’ existence as a label in relation to a traditional label model?

Infinite Bisous: It’s true that we don’t function like a traditional label, and are in no rush to be considered one. Labels have 3-year plans, offices, and money. We just wanted a place to put any of the beautiful offcuts of music our friends make. It’s also hard to release music in a physical format and have it be free, so for now, we are strictly, bodily, in toto ~ digital.

Arelene Phillips: Morsels is not really a record label, just a place to put ideas on the internet for a group of friends with similar ideas, mainly musical jams. I think our relationship with traditional labels begins and ends with the fact we use Morsels to make some little musical ideas public. The intended function of Morsels was as a place for side-projects and strange ideas, and that idea is gradually evolving.

Fruit Salad: I think it is much more useful to think of us as a club or circle or whatever, it’s only because we give out music that we are called a label—people don’t do that with other types of collaborative projects, which is especially weird for us because there are all sorts of “arts” represented in our group: painters and drawers, internet people, filmmakers, musicians, gardeners, etc.

Your first compilation is titled Life on Wheels: Music To Play Tony Hawk To. Is this title an acknowledgement of the new listening habits that are created by other media? It seems like there is always some sort of added stimulus to listening to music these days. Is this something that you are aware of when you release music?

Doctor Oetker: It is certainly an acknowledgment of our hanging out habits.

IB: The THPS series of PlayStation games is, in my opinion, a major success. We used to play it in my studio ‘n hang out, but the music was quite shit. So, we made an album which was supposed to be a pastiche of what skate videos/Tony Hawk games should sound like, then we got quite into it and made some music we actually liked.

FS: Maybe we could start thinking about stimulus but so far I’m not sure if we have. Morsels is more like the documentation of our little bubble, a large part of our motivation was to give eachother music we share, so it’s very internal really.

Listen to Tasty Morsels’ Editorial mix below:

Tasty Morsels offers all of their releases for free. How would you define “free” within the context of the label? Do you believe that a new type of folk tradition of exchange can emerge from this approach to releasing music?

Laurie Holiday: People have been swapping music since minidisc in the skate park, we aren’t doing anything new really.

IB: Ain’t no way I’m paying for a file. Until we release on something people can touch, I don’t expect anyone to pay for our music. There is no larger narrative.

AP: We do stuff for free at the moment because it’s really convenient and trying to sell it would slow us down big time and ruin everyone’s fun. What’s most interesting for us is that if you put a price on a record people consider it quite a bit more “real” and “valuable” than if it is free. Meanwhile there’s quite a lot of music less good than Morsels on vinyl out there. If we can contribute as part of many people who are massively over that idea, then that’s a welcome change for me. That said, we are into the idea of doing all kinds of stuff if we feel like it: vinyl, books, tea-towels, whatever.

Is there any sort of libertarian notion behind releasing Tasty Morsels content for free? Or is it a natural progression to how the record industry is currently evolving?

AP: I for one hope we are not part of the record industry.

IB: Talking about “the traditional record label” is like talking about the home-phone; it’s kind of still there but it’s totally useless and only exists because of pre-existing platforms which allow it to, and lots and lots of money. We’re not trying to start a revolution, it’s just totally stupid to imagine trying to sell the music we want to release on CDs in every country in record shops. And it takes too long.

Sad Eyes: There is no overarching philosophy in our position of releasing our music for free, it’s just the best thing to do at the moment. There are probably a few of us tinged by anarchic feelings about property and what it means to give something of value away for free, but generally I think our approach stems from the idea that money has nothing to do with music.

AP: Nor does the record industry for the most part.

SE: Sure. It would be nice to make a lot of money from this particular project we love doing. However, if we are concentrating on making money, we are compromising on what we want to create. Removing ourselves from having to make money from our music is one way of ensuring what we make is actually good, at least to ourselves, and we can even be happy to be our only customers.

DO: Also lets be honest, everyone’s going to steal it anyway, which is fine, I would too.


Are physical releases something that you consider to be increasingly obsolete?

IB: I dearly hope not. It’s easy to be cynical about vinyl, and maybe for some or many people it is only novelty and nostalgia. But the way people are releasing music today—facelessly, completely void of personality and tactility—is only leading to a disinterest in the music itself. Everything is abstract, the most involved you can be is to download the music and see the music video which exists on a website with thousands of other attempts to attract your attention. We’re trying to make something which feels as personal as it is to us, and hopefully it does.

SE: For me, definitely not. As with books, it feels great to be able to hold something in your hands, turn it over and read the back, put it on your shelf. Most people would now talk about the smell of an old book or record, but either it’s new and smells like new cardboard (of nothing), or it’s old and smells like someone’s hands. I always imagine that if I have a child and decide to buy that child a guitar, I will buy the most attractive guitar, because that will make my child want to pick it up and play it. I feel like it’s the same with a record—you can’t pick up an mp3, and you can’t glance with longing at a bookcase full of ebooks. If we had the opportunity and energy to release something physical, and could do it in a great way, we would do that. It is currently more convenient for our music to be released online.

AP: I think both formats are a legitimate platform for music (or whatever else), they are just different things.

Do you think that a .zip file or a stream can exist in the same way that a physical release does? Do you think one makes more sense than the other in the current climate of music circulation? 

FS: No, they are different, as is live music and music on vinyl, and pictures of paintings in books and paintings in museums, and paintings in bad museums and good museums, and so on. It’s all actually the same thing though, and I’m comfortable knowing that the idea is the same idea on whatever silly format.

IB: For me it’s about the way you receive something. We stream our music on a website which demands it shows the waveform while it plays, but that’s not our website. Our website is where we have a choice in how to display something. And there we can try to make a .zip file feel like something special. That makes more sense to me than buying an album from an ugly online shop, only to have the same file at the end.

To what degree, and in what ways, do you think online music circulation has disrupted the materiality of music?

IB: Greatly, and while it’s sad, it’s also necessary. While labels do their thing, everyone is moving on, or already has. We all feel a sense of relief when that lack of industry involvement leaves us, for a moment, with just the music. But after a while it remains an abstract transaction, and we need that material, real feeling again. But it is in this climate that we start to see what actually makes us feel nice and what doesn’t.

FS: Music is for ears mainly!! All the other elements (packaging, video, album art, even live performance, etc) that go into making it a cool thing are ultimately add-ons to the really cool bit which is the jams, so I don’t really mind how those other things function, and truth be told, I don’t think most people reeeeally care, which is why everyone is happy to listen to Coltrane rips on YouTube or leave their iTunes without the right album art, and why most interesting bands gained most of their influence from Limewire etc. I think we all care about those other bits less than we think, even though they add a delicious context to it.

AP: Our context is just a cool site and some nice pictures, at the moment.

The availability of Tasty Morsels content is always accompanied by contact information. Is booking for the bands on Tasty Morsels an important goal?

IB: It’s never been our aim, but you can always send our main lady a lil kiss: arlene@tastymorsels.org

AP: It’s nice to just be a real person. We are just a small group of humans, we might as well at least read emails. Bands used to put PO box addresses on their records and well, this is a lot more convenient.