(Take Care Tapes, from left to right Cinytha, Monika, Rubita, and Jess, photo by Jess Wu-O)
This past June, four friends got together to discuss their plans for building a community around musicians of color. Over lunch at Mission Pie, they outlined a vision for a record label that would provide a one-stop hub for artists to record and distribute their music.
Cinytha Hernandez, Ruby Perez, Monika Skelton, and Jess Wu-O, the SF-based artists behind Take Care Tapes, met through their involvement in the Bay music scene. They’re behind bands like Pumpkin and Mini, whose lo-fi stylings recall the direct and unpretentious indie of K-Records groups, and Mixed Rice Zines, a comic series depicting womxn in the San Francisco skate and music communities, including likeminded bands like Soar, Valley Grrls, and Sirena Victima. The four shared aspirations to record and produce their own music, and buoyed by each other’s support, the label became a logical extension of their friendship.
(Ruby placing drum mics, photo by Jess Wu-O)
“At the heart and soul of it, we’re all interested and fascinated by the physical recording process, duplication, art, everything that goes into putting a tape out. We wanted to teach ourselves this process and be able to pass that knowledge on to others,” Ruby explains over email. Despite the abundance of boutique labels in the Bay Area, Take Care Tapes aims to not only release music for artists of color but to also facilitate their recordings. “Music can be very therapeutic, and so is creating your own work” says Ruby, explaining how the label hopes to empower other artists by breaking down the barriers between creating and documenting.
Their goals place them among a burgeoning global movement of influential artists and makers who are fostering safe spaces for POC, queer, trans, and non-binary folks. Locally, there’s Unity Skateboarding, Club Chai, and New World Dysorder in the East Bay, and Women’s Audio Mission in San Francisco, to name only a few. Major-label recording artists are walking away from the male dominated industry to start their own labels, like Little Boots and her platform On Repeat Records. “We’re definitely contributing to a larger conversation,” says Ruby. “I think what it comes more down to is — Will there ever be enough platforms that support QTPOC? And no! I don’t think so.”
(Cinythia and Monika recording at ‘The Meat Locker,’ their studio in the Mission. Photo by Jess Wu-O)
Currently in the works for the label is a split release between their own projects, Mini and Pumpkin. For artists interested in recording and releasing music with them, they can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and their releases will be available through their Bandcamp.