TASMAN RICHARDSON , BELLADONNAKILlZ , WISP , SKEETER and CRUSHKILL as part of HERE'S MY CARD RECORDS 3RD ANNIVERSARY at the Boat (158 Augusta), Friday (August 18), 9 pm. Free. www.heresmycardrecords.com. Rating: NNNNN
Local breakcore label Here's My Card Records bills itself as the world's smallest label, a reference not to the number of its releases (it's already put out more than 30 recordings), but rather to its preferred format: the tiny business-card-sized CDs it's been been unleashing on the world for three years.
Toronto does have a reputation as a place people go to bury themselves in their careers, so how has the businessman concept worked for the label?
"I'd say we've had more of a raw response from the UK actually," co-founder and producer Crushkill admits over drinks on a Parkdale patio. "We had this whole business gimmick with the cards, so when our third founder, Nwodtlem, moved to the UK, we decided to start a UK division, kind of as a joke," continues Skeeter. "It ended up blowing up from there, because so many people are doing this kind of thing in Brighton, where he lives. We've always had a core Toronto audience, though, who keep buying the releases and coming out to the shows."
Explaining where HMCR's sound fits into the greater world of electronic music is tricky. Grounded in the frantic pace and attitude of classic hardcore rave music, it boasts the ruthless sampling and recontextualizing of pop culture promoted by the mash-up trend, the abstracted drum 'n' bass of classic IDM, the ADD-fuelled aggression of hardcore punk rock and a constant undercurrent of geek humour and in-jokes.
"It's very self referential - it realizes what it's doing - so if it's sampling a Milli Vanilli tune or an old rave song, those multiple points of references are there on purpose," explains Skeeter. "A lot of the humour is an inside joke on an inside joke, so some people find it funny, but some just find it confusing."
If anything, it's kind of like a nerd version of punk rock: laptops instead of amps, business-card CDs instead of 7-inch vinyl, and distorted kick-drum samples in place of crunchy guitars, but with that same bratty obnoxiousness and fierce independence.
"One of the things I took from punk is the whole DIY thing, which I think has been kind of lost in current punk rock," Skeeter claims. "I've had arguments with punks about this, because I see one guy picking up his laptop and making music on his own as more punk rock than a band paying thousands of dollars for their instruments.
"I'm more interested in the ideology of punk rock than the aesthetic or the romanticism."