Senior Prom Records
Caleb Auwerda, an 18 year old senior at Triton Regional High School, will not be going to his senior prom this year. “Prom,” he explains “was way more of a big thing in the passed, it was supposed to be the first outing for kids as adults or something like that.” However, Caleb’s first outing, as an adult, is much more ambitious than a fancy dinner and discoball-lit dance floor. Caleb is starting a DIY music label he is calling Senior Prom Records.
Caleb is the bass player for Hot Lemon, a local punk that tends to push limits of musical norms even within their own scene here on the North Shore with a combination of punk, math rock, melodic guitar riffs that scream to the point of pain, intricate textures and rhythms and song lyrics dealing with anything from their love of Kim Gordon, the bass player of the shoe gaze band Sonic Youth, to problems they see in church. However Hot Lemon is not where the music stops for Caleb or the other members of the band. Individually they write and record DIY lo-fi music. With a general lack of any kind traditional musical knowledge or regard for popular music, the members of Hot Lemon along with a their regular group of hang arounds pump out large quantities of songs that are spread between so many genres it’s hard to nail down exactly what you’re listening to most of the time. Not a night goes by with these guys when someone isn’t grabbing the nearest acoustic guitar to debut their latest idea or exictedly brandishing a laptop to preview their latest recording. It’s this excitement that has pushed Caleb to start a DIY cassette label.
Hey says it’s something he has wanted to do for a long time and over the course of the last year the idea has been refined and reshaped, drifting between different names such as Bat House Records or CoTV, to where it is now. When you mention, to most people, that Senior Prom is a cassette label the typical response involves a chuckle and a question along the lines of “do they still even have cassette players?” It’s a valid question considering how easy it is to release music digitally with services like Bandcamp or Soundcloud but that ease is reason Caleb says he uses cassettes. “ I don’t even really consider it a music label,” he says, “It’s mainly so things will exist in the physical realm that otherwise wouldn’t.” He explains that the ease of digital music can put a hamper on the amount of thoughtfulness put into it.
He’s not just being difficult to be cool, while he admits that the use of cassettes is motivated by some novelty, he says the reason is more nostalgic than that. Cassettes have played an instrumental part in DIY music long before he was even born. Before home recording as we know it today, where cheap audio interfaces and audio editing programs allow anyone to create near professional quality music from their bedroom, people used 4-track cassette recorders. Cassettes are also cheap. “I can sell cassettes for just two or three dollars a piece and completely break even.” At that price, this is much more than a business venture for Caleb. In fact, he says it will likely never be more than a hobby because it’s not about money or fame to him. He simply wants to share the music that is being made by his friends.