In addition to applying to graduate school and making music under three different monikers, senior Nate Wagner has started a cassette tape label, Spare No Expanse.
"The ultimate reason I wanted to create a record label was to showcase art that wasn't getting heard or seen by anyone,” Wagner said. “Right now, the label’s in its baby stages, but tapes are selling and some publications have started to write about the music."
The label focuses on ambient and experimental recordings featuring lesser known artists like The Celestial Body and Curacy.
“Nate’s filling an interesting gap in the tape label scene, whereby he's completely by-passed the early steps of establishing himself, as most labels have to,” Callum Browne, who runs global online record label Little L Records, said. “Instead he's debuted his label with a group of established artists and a bunch of releases to kick-start his catalogue, which is a great way to launch in a way that is fully-formed.”
In his next set of releases, Wagner plans to release music from North Carolina artists.
“In the future, Spare No Expanse will hopefully be able to help experimental artists find an even larger audience," he said. "The end goal remains, however, to preserve and share unique and challenging art in physical format.”
In Spare No Expanse’s first week, Wagner donated all his profits from his cassettes and digital downloads to World Relief Durham, raising $65.
"Tapes add an analog warmth to even digital files,” Wagner said. “It's a different listening experience. Music on physical formats is not conducive to a passive listening experience. You’re there, taking the tape out of the case, rewinding it, flipping it after Side A ends. It helps you to practice intentionality and to actively investigate what this curious piece of music is really about.”
One of the releases Spare No Expanse put out was “We Will Forget Our Sadder Days In Summers That Never End” by Leaaves, one of Wagner’s ambient projects that he began his first year at UNC.
“Leaaves' music is crystallized nostalgia,” Atte Tuomaala, the artist behind Curacy, said. “The sounds are so beautiful, full of submerged details. His songs often seem rooted in places he's visited during his endless transatlantic journeys, and I like to think of them as souvenirs for anyone who ends up listening to them.”
Leaaves’ first album was a combination of field recordings recorded on Wagner’s iPhone during his first spring semester at UNC and his summer spent in Oulu, Finland and Whitesburg, Kentucky mixed with instrumentals of old demos he made high school.
Though Wagner has spent lots of time on music, he is majoring in German Literature and plans to pursue a career in academia.
"I'd much rather have the ability to focus on music as a passion, even if that means being designated a hobbyist as opposed to a professional,” Wagner said.
“I think academia does a much better job of helping us to value art by setting it in dialogue with societal and political realities," he said. "Which is why, as an artist, I’m also eager to go continue my education and work with texts.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.