With nearly 50 releases under its belt in the past four years, Winnipeg’s Dub Ditch Picnic has established itself as one of Canada’s foremost players in a niche market, releasing an eclectic mix of limited-edition cassettes.
“Tapes are my preferred format,” Chris Jacques told AUX one wet June afternoon in Winnipeg. Dub Ditch was founded shortly after Jacques and a partner had formed Prairie Fire Tapes, a noise and drone label.
“Branching out too far just wasn’t an option [for Prairie Fire],” Jacques said. “So I thought, I’m going to start my own label where I can just do whatever kind of crazy stuff I want to do.”
According to Jacques, Dub Ditch operates much like his own record collection.
“It’s a result of my collector’s mentality. What I do with the label is what I do when I’m buying records. Like, ‘This looks cool, this sounds cool. I don’t have anything like this. I’m gonna add it to my collection.’”
In the fall of 2013, a major car accident nearly ended Jacques’ life and temporarily derailed Dub Ditch Picnic just as the label was picking up steam and planning some major releases. Today, Jacques has now recovered and is ramping up for the summer of 2014 to be the Summer of Dub Ditch Picnic.
“This summer you should see a huge flood of Dub Ditch Picnic Tapes come out,” he said. “I have about eight tapes ready to go.”
In the meantime, Dub Ditch Picnic’s new sister label Sundowner records is releasing a Dub Rifles retrospective, No Town No Country, and DDP is preparing for a digital 50th release from various artists. Looking to the future, in the lead up to this monumental 50th release, titled I’ll Hang With God, But Not Today, AUX sat down with Jacques to go over ten clutch cassettes Dub Ditch Picnic has released up to this point.
No UFOs – Mind Control (006)
“No UFOs was the first one that, for us, got people paying attention. I’d been friends with Konrad [Jandavs] for years. He’d actually sent me the tracks which became Soft Coast, the first tape he did that made everyone pee their pants. Once I’d got around to saying I’d want to release them, he already had that in motion. Which is probably good, because he had connections being out there in Vancouver, who were probably better set up than I was at that time. Who knows what would have happened. I could have released it, and nothing would have happened. Maybe nobody would have heard it, who knows? But then I did the second release, Mind Control.”
Tim Hoover – More Napkins (013)
Tim Hoover, aka DJ Co-op, is a mainstay of Winnipeg’s club scene. After working with Peanuts & Corn and releasing plenty of hip hop mixtapes and CDRs over the years, Hoover stepped out from behind the Co-op name and delivered this long-playing tape of ambient, layered instrumental compositions and lost-and-found samples.
“The Tim Hoover tape was the first time we did over 50 copies. We pressed 175 of those. That was pretty cool.”
Shearing Pinx – Storm Majorities and Magnetic Tremors (020)
Vancouver’s Shearing Pinx have been referred to here on AUX as one of the best Canadian punk bands of the last decade.
“The Shearing Pinx tape was really cool. I had a relationship with those guys doing some of their side projects with Prairie Fire Tapes. They said they had all these singles and EPs, which they wanted to collect. We ended up doing a 90-minute tape.”
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Babysitter//JLK – Babysitter//JLK Live @ Casa (024)
“We did a few tapes with Babysitter, and JLK, an artist out of Montreal. I guess they were hanging and just jamming stuff out. It sounds in the vein of the Velvet Underground if they were a little more… impatient, maybe? If that makes any sense.”
Cosmic Dead – The Exalted King (025)
“Cosmic Dead are this really heavy psych band out of Scotland. They’ve released a couple records now, and they just disappear. The Exalted King was the first time we did a pre-order, and essentially sold it out before it was actually released. That was a big, almost 90 minute tape. That was really cool.”
MOON – Moon (036)
“Moon are out of Halifax. We did a 20 minute tape with them, which was astounding. I heard one track of theirs, and I said, “I like the one track I’ve heard. I like your one song, let’s do something [laughs]!” They sent it, and it was great. It sold out really fast.”
Crabskull – Keep the Evil Away and Phlegm Bomb Trick$ (041/042)
Another series of releases dropped at once, Winnipeg’s Crabskull and Snail Poison (ex-Scab Smoker, and a longstanding member of the city’s experimental music community, below) put together three wildly different 90-minute tapes.
“Just before the accident, we got around to doing the Crabskull tapes. Keep the Evil Away had him taking dub records and really, really slowing them down. Like, really slowing them down. Then Phlegm Bomb Trick$ was like trap beats and stuff like that.”
Snailpoison – Live at Hnatnhiman Caves (043)
“Snail Poison was more in the vein of straight techno, sort of. That whole series was really wild.”
Various Artists – I’ll Hang with God, But Not Today (050)
For Dub Ditch Picnic’s 50th release in four years, Chris decided to do something different: a massive digital download of an album, available from Bandcamp. The release will also serve as a fundraiser for DDP to recoup funds lost while Jacques was in recovery after his accident.
“For our 50th release we’re doing this thing on Bandcamp,” Jacques said, with obvious excitement. “It’ll be 50 bands, almost all the bands we’ve worked with have added something in. Some bands have contributed two-minute tracks, some like 50-minute tracks. So it’s going to be hours worth of music. I’ve taken one side of the No UFOs tape and thrown that in as a bonus, along with some other stuff as well.”