An Interview with Jamie Conroy: Luigi’s DIY to Release Bootleg Tape Series

by Maciej Lewicki

An Interview with Jamie Conroy: Luigi’s DIY to Release Bootleg Tape Series

Today, Philly-based Luigi’s DIY launches a new bootleg tape series, focused on committing the best performances from their streaming initiative Luigi.TV to tape. The first run of cassettes features sets from the bands Cheem, Yeah is What We Have, and Stand and Wave and for the next month, Luigi’s will be hand-dubbing the cassettes to order. At the end of the month, these cassettes will be replaced and new ones will take their place. I spoke with Jamie Conroy (they/she), Luigi’s cofounder about the project and why they started it.

Maciej: So tell me a little bit about the project, how did this idea come about?

Jamie: Our original plan was to just use the Cheem session. Gabe from Cheem had tracked all the audio as they recorded and done a real mix for their Bandcamp. But as I was listening through the other sessions in the vault, I realised we have a bunch more full band stuff. I included the Stand and Wave session, cause I’m a big Stand and Wave stan, and then I love love love how the Yeah is What We Have session came out and I think the way that sounds is really cool with the super tapey sound of how we do our redubs.

Maciej: That is, overdubbing an existing tape rather than using a new tape?

Jamie: Yes. Which we do for a few reasons: for one, it’s cheap and lets us send along more of the money. Two, it lets us make the exact amount that gets ordered, without having to worry about selling out or having extras. But also it’s probably environmentally better to do so and it’s kind of a tribute to the long history of bootleg tapes, especially for live audio.

It’s honestly one of the coolest things about tapes for me, it’s way free-er and more democratic in terms of ability to produce them. Like, I love the idea that this gives a second life to these tapes and hypothetically anyone who buys them could put new audio on them and give them a third life. It kinda feels like magic that it can just become new music.

Maciej: Yeah, and honestly upcycled tapes are cool as hell. One of my favourite tapes is the WR YU one I bought from you earlier last year.

Jamie: Yeah, I made myself a WR YU tape the other day and put the Luigi.TV session on the back, and it’s been one of my go to tapes lately.

Maciej: Anyway, my question was, one of the things that really made the WR YU tape special for me were the doodles on both sides. Do you plan on doing something similar for these?

Jamie: Yeah, we’re definitely gonna experiment with some customization elements like that. Can’t say for certain if it’ll be the coloured sharpie or something like a splatter, but we will be adding something unique to differentiate it from the tape that it once was.

Maciej: That’s sick! I presume those will differ per tape?

Jamie: Yeah, if we do the splatter, we probably will have some that look similar, but I definitely want to continue that element of individuality to each tape. Our goal is to make each tape made to order and essentially feel like a 1/1 run of its own. Obviously, with redubbing, there is an element of individuality and uniqueness too. One person might get a tape that’s done over a Metallica tape and someone else might get one done over the Cats original Broadway cast.

Maciej: Will you be making j-cards for these tapes as well?

Jamie: Yes, I’ve designed the Stand and Wave and Yeah is What We Have j-cards myself, and the folks in Cheem have been kind enough to design their own using a variant of the original Bandcamp release art. My process for the ones I designed were heavily based on screenshots from the video session as well as channeling the idea of a bootleg tape.

I really want these to feel classic in the sense that they are bootleg tapes. It’s such a compelling and wonderful history, and a unique way of interacting with physical music, and I hope it stays alive as long as we as a society have the means to dub over tapes and play them back. It’s an effort to reattach the artist into the bootleg process, at a time when we really need as many new ways to support artists as possible.

Maciej: I definitely get the sense that a lot of it is about keeping up that authenticity of bootleg tapes and I love it. Do you have any plans for how long you’ll go on doing them right now or do you just wanna go as long as you can?

Jamie: In the last few weeks, I’ve been going through and selecting sessions that I think would translate well, which has included making some tape copies for myself, and I’ve picked out a good number of sessions I’d love to put on tape. We also have some pretty big plans I can’t expand on too much right now, to keep producing and platforming live content. With that in mind, I expect this to run to the summer.

Maciej: To close this off, can you offer any sneak peeks on upcoming artists?

Jamie: I haven’t actually cleared any artists past the wave we have ready now, so no. But I would say, to anyone curious, that checking out what we have on our Youtube channel, especially stuff that is full band or has a high audio quality, people could figure out which sessions I might have in mind for personal goals for what to put on tape. I’m definitely looking to have at least one full band session in each wave.

An Interview with Jamie Conroy: Luigi’s DIY to Release Bootleg Tape Series

by Maciej Lewicki

An Interview with Jamie Conroy: Luigi’s DIY to Release Bootleg Tape Series

Today, Philly-based Luigi’s DIY launches a new bootleg tape series, focused on committing the best performances from their streaming initiative Luigi.TV to tape. The first run of cassettes features sets from the bands Cheem, Yeah is What We Have, and Stand and Wave and for the next month, Luigi’s will be hand-dubbing the cassettes to order. At the end of the month, these cassettes will be replaced and new ones will take their place. I spoke with Jamie Conroy (they/she), Luigi’s cofounder about the project and why they started it.

Maciej: So tell me a little bit about the project, how did this idea come about?

Jamie: Our original plan was to just use the Cheem session. Gabe from Cheem had tracked all the audio as they recorded and done a real mix for their Bandcamp. But as I was listening through the other sessions in the vault, I realised we have a bunch more full band stuff. I included the Stand and Wave session, cause I’m a big Stand and Wave stan, and then I love love love how the Yeah is What We Have session came out and I think the way that sounds is really cool with the super tapey sound of how we do our redubs.

Maciej: That is, overdubbing an existing tape rather than using a new tape?

Jamie: Yes. Which we do for a few reasons: for one, it’s cheap and lets us send along more of the money. Two, it lets us make the exact amount that gets ordered, without having to worry about selling out or having extras. But also it’s probably environmentally better to do so and it’s kind of a tribute to the long history of bootleg tapes, especially for live audio.

It’s honestly one of the coolest things about tapes for me, it’s way free-er and more democratic in terms of ability to produce them. Like, I love the idea that this gives a second life to these tapes and hypothetically anyone who buys them could put new audio on them and give them a third life. It kinda feels like magic that it can just become new music.

Maciej: Yeah, and honestly upcycled tapes are cool as hell. One of my favourite tapes is the WR YU one I bought from you earlier last year.

Jamie: Yeah, I made myself a WR YU tape the other day and put the Luigi.TV session on the back, and it’s been one of my go to tapes lately.

Maciej: Anyway, my question was, one of the things that really made the WR YU tape special for me were the doodles on both sides. Do you plan on doing something similar for these?

Jamie: Yeah, we’re definitely gonna experiment with some customization elements like that. Can’t say for certain if it’ll be the coloured sharpie or something like a splatter, but we will be adding something unique to differentiate it from the tape that it once was.

Maciej: That’s sick! I presume those will differ per tape?

Jamie: Yeah, if we do the splatter, we probably will have some that look similar, but I definitely want to continue that element of individuality to each tape. Our goal is to make each tape made to order and essentially feel like a 1/1 run of its own. Obviously, with redubbing, there is an element of individuality and uniqueness too. One person might get a tape that’s done over a Metallica tape and someone else might get one done over the Cats original Broadway cast.

Maciej: Will you be making j-cards for these tapes as well?

Jamie: Yes, I’ve designed the Stand and Wave and Yeah is What We Have j-cards myself, and the folks in Cheem have been kind enough to design their own using a variant of the original Bandcamp release art. My process for the ones I designed were heavily based on screenshots from the video session as well as channeling the idea of a bootleg tape.

I really want these to feel classic in the sense that they are bootleg tapes. It’s such a compelling and wonderful history, and a unique way of interacting with physical music, and I hope it stays alive as long as we as a society have the means to dub over tapes and play them back. It’s an effort to reattach the artist into the bootleg process, at a time when we really need as many new ways to support artists as possible.

Maciej: I definitely get the sense that a lot of it is about keeping up that authenticity of bootleg tapes and I love it. Do you have any plans for how long you’ll go on doing them right now or do you just wanna go as long as you can?

Jamie: In the last few weeks, I’ve been going through and selecting sessions that I think would translate well, which has included making some tape copies for myself, and I’ve picked out a good number of sessions I’d love to put on tape. We also have some pretty big plans I can’t expand on too much right now, to keep producing and platforming live content. With that in mind, I expect this to run to the summer.

Maciej: To close this off, can you offer any sneak peeks on upcoming artists?

Jamie: I haven’t actually cleared any artists past the wave we have ready now, so no. But I would say, to anyone curious, that checking out what we have on our Youtube channel, especially stuff that is full band or has a high audio quality, people could figure out which sessions I might have in mind for personal goals for what to put on tape. I’m definitely looking to have at least one full band session in each wave.