Reel World focuses on tape culture in an attempt to better understand the growing comeback of analog hiss.
Christian Filardo is a busy man. Multimedia artist, museum curator, musician, and successful cassette label owner, Filardo’s creative impulses know no boundaries. Today we talk with him about Holy Page, a burgeoning music label with a beautiful set of ideals regarding the union of artwork and music.
It must take an entire army to put out as many releases as Holy Page does, but it seems that Holy Page is a one-man show, how is this so?
Holy Page is just me pretty much, with occasional help scouting bands. We just got an intern from Arizona State University, but essentially it is just me!
Not only do you run a fine operation as Holy Page, but you stay super busy as a talented artist—so who is Christian Filardo really?
Well I grew up all over the world. I am an Asian American, who grew up in China and the Philippines. I work on art everyday, but it is at the point where it is just a part of me. So it is just me really. I am in my final semester of undergraduate studies at Arizona State. I am 21 years old and I work as a library aide at my Universities Architecture Library. I am the youngest of two brothers, one full, one half. I am really into movies, music, food, design, all that sort of stuff. I suppose I just really like learning! Learning is great, I am stubborn as hell though!
Excellent! So, sort of a philosophical question: Do you think art requires intent, as in the intent to create art?
Some art is process driven. So for some yes! I believe art can be anything though, a rock in the street can be art, a pimple on my face, a pop tab on a soda!
Holy Page started in 2011, what inspired you to start it?
At the time I really just wanted to make visual art for some of my friend’s music. So I thought of putting it all on one page where people could download the music for free with my art, hence ‘Holy Page.’ It was sort of a cross pollination of my art interests and music interests, that really made me want it. So it just sort of happened!
Were you into a certain art medium or style that seemed to click well with music?
At the time I had just had my first solo art show which was at The Trunk Space in downtown Phoenix and it consisted mostly of collage and pen drawings. The label’s visual appearance was spawned from those two mediums being approached through a digital format. So I guess the digitalization of my drawings and collages: Photoshopping, scanning old slides, etc.
Do you make all the artwork for the Holy Page releases?
I used to exclusively create all the art, now I have given artists more breathing room and just ensure myself complete layout control. However, I have done 95% of all the album art for Holy Page.
So for the album art that you do make… does the music inspire the art?
Totally! All the art is made while listening to the release. I don’t really have a back stock of work waiting for it really.
How do you decide what artists to work with?
Well, it all depends on my budget really! I only put out stuff I like, but I will take more risks when I have more capital sitting around! I try to put out things by people who I am directly connected with. Also, it helps if we have a somewhat intimate relationship, more than just music friends. Also, I really prefer to put out music for people who play live or tour. So essentially everything I put out I am really into myself!
Holy Page has put out some really cool compilations. What inspires you to tackle those projects?—say the Halloween Compilation with glow-in-the-dark labels, which I loved!
I am a freak about curatorial work! Building a cool compilation is like building a binder of trading cards or something. It’s really addicting seeing everyone submit something!
Halloween is really a solid holiday for that kind of stuff! I thought about doing a Valentines Compilation, but it’s a little too late now. Compilations are fun and they are a good way to break into the label. They also help me find bands I might want to work with in the future!
Do you just send out an email to friends requesting tracks?
I usually will post the call on the site, then make a Facebook event, then post it in groups and what not. Which is sort of my traditional go to stuff, I need to change it up a bit really! A few people I approach personally to try and work with. I try to get at least one or two bigger acts to participate so others on the comp can be stoked they are on a comp with so and so.
Each release on the Holy Page merch page is absolutely beautiful! Do you consider a visual theme for the artwork and the shell design?
Oh yeah, some releases I try to make into full blown art projects and others I try to hold back on so I don’t overwhelm the music. I sort of try to make them all uniform in an abstract way really, so you can sort of know it’s something I’ve worked on!
It looks like you do all the work on the releases: artwork, shell design, dubbing—is this true?
Yeah we are all in house out here in sunny Arizona! I own a set of Sony stereo duplicators and I own a set of Telex dupers as well. I master all my tapes on a Nakamichi RX-202. That is the key really, that and the Sony!
I love the FRUIT ONE artwork—how did you make the shell look like cookies and cream?
It was a combination of a couple different Montana Spray Paint colors with different caps. The tapes already had these sort of faded white labels on them at the time of purchase so that helped!
Well, I chose the tape format for a couple of reasons. One, tapes can be really long, you can fit a 90 minute release on tape without compromising sound quality or having to press a second LP. Two, they offer the intimacy of vinyl at a much more affordable cost, and you can easily make them into art objects. You can get different colored tapes, shells, labels. They are super customizable.
What do tapes mean to you?
Tapes to me mean a lot! Tapes mean: hard copies of data. Tapes mean: physicality and intimacy in collecting. Tapes mean: everyone can be apart of music culture. Tapes mean: recycling. Tapes mean: cross cultural exchanges. To me tapes are extremely accessible and reach across genre lines. Punks are into pop tapes, singer songwriters are into noise, and I think that tapes help expand horizons!
What does the future hold for Holy Page?
Well, Holy Page is going to keep pressing tapes, probably forever, but in 2013 we are also making the leap to vinyl! I am releasing my brother’s new album Falling Up and Stephen Steinbrink’s I Drew A Picture. I am also very excited to work with one of my favorite pop projects Ever Ending Kicks on a tape of rarities called (Weird Priorities). I also started an art space in my backyard called the Tempe Museum of Contemporary Art that may house some Holy Page Records events, but who knows. I might also try to relocate to the east coast some time soon. It’s all up in the air with school, but the label will be around until the end probably!
Fantastic! Thanks so much for your time and passionate words, Christian! Anything else that you’d like to add?
Yeah, this label wouldn’t be anywhere without the help of such a global music community! I would like to thank Lava Church, Swan City Sounds, Gilgongo Records, Ascetic House, Tagobella, Crash Symbols, Bridgetown, Chill Mega Chill, Portals, and many more for helping to create such a vibrant community. Thanks for doing this it was really fun!