It's safe to assume Goaty Tapes' Zully Adler
is way cooler than you were when you were a college sophomore. In fact,
he's probably cooler than you are right now. But what else to expect from
the lone orchestrator behind a design-savvy experimental tape label? With
a discography that spans from the unknown to Thurston f-in' Moore, and an
impeccable packaging style that puts most cassette imprints to shame,
Goaty is establishing itself as a singular purveyor of "good stuff."
Family Battle Snake's Arabian Knights
1. First of all, how did you decide upon
the name "Goaty Tapes"?
My bestie from home has a little goat stuffed
animal named Goaty. She also had a baby pillow named Pilly. They're the
best and a constant source of inspiration. When I left home she snipped
off a little piece of its beard and gave it to me as a gift. Still got it
right here around my collar.
2. How did you become involved in
I guess became curious about experimental
music when I was thirteen or fourteen. I didn't really have any friends my
age who were as interested as I was, so it I kind of developed my tastes
in isolation. Only when I decided to start the label did I really start to
meet people and find a place in the experimental community.
3. Why have you chosen to stick to
They're silly and really fun. I'm not a
fetishist as much as I just like making tapes.
4. What inspires the design of your tapes?
I like working with formal layering. You
know, how things go on and off the page. When you're working with tapes,
you have a very interesting and particular set of interacting shapes and
surfaces – how it all folds up and whatnot. It's
fun to fool around with this interaction, find ways of accentuating or
abstracting certain parts. Small changes to the model j-card can really
alter how you handle the tape physically.
5. Where do you get your inserts printed,
and where do you get your blank tapes from?
Depends on where I am when I want to make a
tape. It's not a particularly romantic part of the job. I like quality
prints, so wherever I can find a good machine. But I really enjoy inking
and printing the covers myself on the letterpress.
6. What is your day job?
I'm a student.
7. How much of your time does Goaty take
There are weeks where it's all emails, and
that's not too laborious. Assembling takes forever, though, especially
what all the hand-cutting. And I'm compulsive, so I don't let
my less-coordinated friends help out. Once in a while Emmy or Erin will
sit around and cut some inserts with me for an hour or two if I offer them
8. How did you end up putting out the
Thurston Moore / Kommissar Hjuler und Mama Baer
I liked all their music so I talked with the
bands and they were into it.
9. Part of the intrigue behind your tapes
lies in the abstract descriptions written about
them, credited to Valhalla. What is the story
behind these, and what inspires them?
I met Valhalla at the New England Annual
Sacred Harp Convention in 2007. She's fifteen, born in Tulsa and raised in
Middletown. She talks like she writes, so I knew I was in for a real
treat. She loves music, but I don't think she knows the artists I release
before I play them for her. She's quick in picking up what the bands are
all about though. I think her write-ups are based on her first or second
impressions of the material.
10. What does your music collection look
like? Is it largely tapes, or do you have a fair
share of CD(R)s and vinyl, as well?
I think its primarily vinyl. Lots of the
Shadow Ring, turn of the century Greek vocalists. I have plenty of tapes
and cd-rs though. You always forget how many cd-rs you have, because they
take up so little space. Then you sift through them every once in a while
and there are way more than you remember. Cassettes get those festive tape
racks that are a constant reminder of their presence.
11. What is your opinion on music
12. How in touch are you with your
I love the folks who buy tapes from me. Shout
out to Caren down under, Jan in Berlin, Kyle on 39th, SK III! Every once
in a while you meet a mail order customer and it rules. It's like great
13. When you put out a tape, do you
assemble and dub all of the tapes at once or do
you make them to order?
Hahaha, the big question. It really depends
on how I feel. It's generally a good idea to get it all done at once, but
David Joon Jaberi / Cole Moldy Miller split
14. Describe your favourite on-the-cheap
Mexican food of only the most maximal
legitimacy. That or I steal some cheese from Whole Foods, cause they throw
it out anyway.
15. What fellow labels do you admire and
I love labels that cultivate a personality
without subscribing to a particular aesthetic. Some labels are really
great at making themselves notable but not overbearing. Labels that focus
on local music are my favorite. They really let you into a particular
musical community and they have real purpose.
16. Recommend some good books.
John Berger's Ways of Seeing, Bruno Latour,
Dave Hickey's Air Guitar. Berlin Childhood around 1900 is a perfect little
book. Dennis Rodman's autobiography is choice.
17. How important is the physical product
in terms of a musical release? Does an obsession
with packaging risk objectifying the music?
The physical product of a Goaty release is
very important to me, because that is my contribution. If I'm not
designing the packaging, I'm just a source of financial support, which is
nice but not enough for me.
Yes, an obsession with packaging definitely
puts the integrity of the music at risk, but there are ways of making sure
you don't take it too far. Music should always be affordable, so only put
as much money into the packaging as you can make back without pushing your
prices past a reasonable level (one might also consider time as money, but
I don't really take that into account). I think that if you stick by this
principle and do your best to make sure the packaging fits the sound, you
aren't objectifying or overpowering as much as celebrating the music. The
truth is, packaging and cover design is just fun; we shouldn't read into
it so much. I trust that listeners can maintain their focus on the music
and appreciate the packaging for what it is.
18. What is there to do in Middletown, CT?
What is the music scene like?
Attend lectures, eat in the cafeteria, make
out in the stacks. We like to drive down to New Haven and throw nuts at
Harold Bloom. The music scene is totally great; there are some real grimy
hardcore and grindcore units just killing.
19. What is your favourite colour? Justify
Green is my favorite color. Celery, weed,
20. You've got several releases in the
pipeline, including a VHS by New Yoga and even
some vinyl! What can we expect from the upcoming
I'm really excited about what's coming up.
The Dark Bong VHS is totally insane. It's like looking at the future
through the past. I guess what you can expect is a more focused catalogue
of close friends and artists that don't shun popular song structure as
much as reinterpret it. I am planning the transition into vinyl, but I
will wait until the time is right. That will mark a serious about-face in
the character of the label. Should be baller.
conducted by Michael Tau
published May 2009
credit: Goaty Tapes website
GOATY TAPES ONLINE