From Sam

My Patreon backers give a small monthly donation, to help fund the creation of my art. They get additional private blog posts. You can join for as little as $3 a month. It’s a really nice way to keep the art flowing.

Ashes in the brittle air 2CD & LP — get it by release date. Name-your-price download.

  • March 1, 2020

Hi. After a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised almost $10,000 for the deluxe remastered edition of Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s 1989 third album Ashes in the brittle air we’re quickly approaching the March 13 street date. Order your copy now and we’ll ship it ASAP to arrive by release date. This edition is remastered from the original 1/4-inch tapes; there are 21 bonus tracks on the 2nd CD (demos, acapella versions, and 6 unheard completely finished songs from back in the day), and “Across a thousand blades” has a new 2020 mix on disc 2, using only original sources.) The CD+LP version is the original album mix, of course. There’s also an extremely limited edition “Aska i den skor luften” journal.

LP — Limited edition of 300. 140-gram smoky translucent vinyl. With b&w lyric card.

CD — 2CD in 6-panel digipak with 16-page lyric/photo booklet. 21 tracks on 2nd disc. Limited edition of 500.

Get the entire 22 tracks as a name-your-price download at BlackTape’s bandcamp page.

The LP, 2CD & journal are available at BlackTape’s bandcamp page. For export orders, I’m able to offer lower-priced-than-in-the-past shipping thanks to Projekt’s freight consolidator out of Philadelphia. In Europe you can get even lower shipping rates by ordering from Projekt’s European webstore in Germany (though they don’t have the journal).

Some recent thoughts about the album:

I closed out the 80s with BlackTape’s third album, Ashes in the brittle air. As I recall, it was the release that finally got the band noticed. No doubt it helped to have a somewhat more traditional goth rock song (“Across a thousand blades”) with guitars and drums. It could get played on the radio — and it did, thanks to inclusion on a CMJ CD sampler sent to radio across the country. Oscar had a chance to sizzle with dramatic and passionate vocals. The other aspect of the album is a softer, sensitive approach in Sue-Kenny Smith’s voice. We recorded her vocals in a studio in London; most of her vocals were done in one or at most two takes. She brought a spontaneous, organic English-folk quality to the album; mixing that with my electronics and ambience — and Oscar’s vocals — created a diverse collection of songs that arrived at just the right moment. There wasn’t really anyone else in America doing this ethereal style.

Ashes was the first BlackTape released on CD; the improved sonic quality of the medium over the previous two LPs really benefited the music. With this expanded rerelease, my mastering guy went back and worked from the original quarter-inch mixdown tapes. In 1989, I thought the original sounded great, but this new mastering sounds amazing! There is so much subtle detail now, everything warmer and more present. I really love it! I added six bonus tracks (on the second disc) from that era — something special for the album’s fans. There’s no way I can go back in time and write more pieces in this exact style; these tracks are completed songs I never released for artist-angst reasons; they make a wonderful addition to the album. Also included are a bunch of demos, and early mixes to round out the 21 bonus tracks.

I crowdfunded this release; 267 backers pledged nearly $10,000 to create this expanded deluxe edition. It is amazing knowing people care about this work enough to help me make an even-more-special version for them. I really appreciate this positive loop that crowdfunding creates.

the journals are really nice:

Orders at our Bandcamp page include (while they last) a 20-page memorabilia booklet I created for backers of the campaign; it has interviews from the late 80s & recent conversations with many of the participants. I’ll also include an album cover sticker as a bonus!

Two new patrons + some new music

  • February 6, 2020

I just got two new $10-a-month patrons in the Blacktape Patron Area at Bandcamp. I added a new 6-track download / stream with pieces I’ve been working on recently, and also Patrons have an advance copy of Highlights 2016-2020 which includes the 2020 exclusive-to-this-collection version of 1987’s “Scream, my shallow;” vocalist Danielle Herrera recreates this harrowing story of obsession and denial.

I appreciate your patronage which goes toward the ongoing costs of being an artist in this new era of the music industry.

“In my memories” — first new video in 6 years! 🎥

  • November 27, 2019

As Shea jokingly pointed out to me when proofing this text, it takes longer to read the description than it does to watch the video! So please by all means watch the video first! At YouTube or in the embed below. Then read the additional text if you have time…

It's my first new music video in six years! Watch “In my memories” off To touch the milky way. I conceived, shot & edited this rumination on the passing of time, nostalgia, regret and loss with the help of my three great actors. Shot over the course of two year, it stars Dan Von Hoyel (vocalist/songwriter from the bands Harmjoy and Titans) and fellow adult industry performer Mercy West.

Sam explains, “The piece began when I shot a half-minute phone-video of Mercy splashing & diving underwater at a rubber fetish pool party. A few months later, a piano part I played in the studio felt to me like it was about ‘memories’ — those seconds of Mercy in the pool inspired the direction of the music and then the lyrics I wrote. It’s a character’s first person narrative thinking back to the summer when he was 23 and enjoying a nothing-special — and yet everything-so-special — afternoon with his lover. It moves me seeing the raw emotions Dan brought to his performance. How often do you see men cry in tv or film? In our culture, men are considered weak when they show feelings other than anger. It’s still not common for them to tear up and display their loss or sorrow. I like that we captured that; it gets to the core of the song.”

Watch the video at youTube:

Sam fills in the backstory:

The piece began with a half-minute phone-video of Mercy splashing & diving underwater at a rubber fetish pool party. A few months later, a piano part I played in the studio felt to me like it was about ‘memories’ — those seconds of Mercy in the pool inspired the direction of the music and then the lyrics I wrote. It’s a character’s first person narrative thinking back to the summer when he was 23 and enjoying a nothing-special — and yet everything-so-special — afternoon with his lover. In the second half of the song, I brought in an idea my son and I discussed at the time: if there could be a way for people to re-experience an earlier time of their lives and relive those pleasurable moments, would they ever want to come out of it and get back to reality? Or would everyone be in their chair with a helmet on (and drugs in their veins), reliving their first love, that afternoon by the pool, and that weekend at the cabin?

The music/lyrics came together quickly in November 2017; I imagined Oscar would sing the song (he sang on the previous Black Tape For A Blue Girl album, These fleeting moments). One of my son’s friends, Ari, looked a lot like how I remembered Oscar from back in the 80s. Ari was in town for the holidays; I shot footage of him in the backyard to use as flashback scenes interspersed with Mercy in the pool — all in preparation to shoot the rest of the video when Oscar came to Portland to record the album. As time passed, Michael Plaster became the vocalist on To touch the milky way. Now I had a dilemma: I had scenes with Ari as the young version of the character, but Michael didn’t look like Ari, and he didn’t want to be on camera, anyway. I wondered who I could work with to finish the clip.

Procrastination set in. The album was released in November of 2018. The piece remained unfinished.

Before any of that, I had met Dan Von Hoyel (vocalist/songwriter from the bands Harmjoy and Titans) at a event. Mercy already knew Dan as they’re both adult industry performers. Around the time the Milky Way album was released, it occurred to me that Dan would be a good choice to play the grown-up version of the character in the song. Christmas Eve 2018, Dan was in Portland; I shot his scenes with Mercy. Dan was going through some stuff at the moment which inspired his interpretation of his character’s sadness and pain. The song is about the loss and longing we feel for our past.

Dan brought that!

It moves me seeing the raw emotions Dan brought to his performance. How often do you see men cry in tv or film? In our culture, men are considered weak when they show feelings other than anger. It’s still not common for them to tear up and display their heartache or sorrow. I like that we captured that; it gets to the core of the song.

I edited the new scenes with Dan & Mercy, then procrastination set in again. I knew there were pick-up shots of Mercy I wanted to add, but my work at Projekt, adopting a new kitty, an instrumental collaboration, and a few Kickstarters took me away from the video. A couple of weeks ago I was scrolling down my Instagram and saw an image I shot of Mercy in the dress from the video. I realized it was creeping up on 2 years since I started — I had to get the piece done. Last week we shot the missing graveyard scenes. I finished the edit, and now — two years later — the video is out!

You’ll notice one result of my procrastination: Mercy has three different hairstyles / hair colors. I think that actually helps the idea of time passing and memory. I like the moods, the nostalgia, the moments of feeling on the character’s faces. I like what this story is telling me.

you’re twenty-three again, in my backyard
laughing by the pool, diving underwater
you come up and smile at me, in my memories
what if we could go back there, and i could hold you?
what if it was that summer again, and it felt like it was real?
so damn real! i taste your kisses
the water on your lips, you’re drippin’ all over my feet again
maybe we’d stay there, and maybe we’d never come back
maybe we’d always be there
maybe i’m there, and i want to be trapped in my memories
maybe i’m lost, beneath the planks
or that time in the cabin, or slithering naked across a thousand blades
or slithering naked across a thousand blades
or slithering naked across a thousand blades
or slithering naked across a thousand blades…

What else is going on?

I’m almost done designing the 2CD Ashes in the brittle air (expanded edition). Still a few things to finalize and I have to proof the disc 2 DDP master; then it’s off to the pressing plant. I proofed the LP test pressings and turned in the cover pdfs last week; I’m excited how quick the progress has been.

Next week I’m ordering a reprint of The Rope T-shirt. If you’d like one, preOrder at the BlackTape bandcamp page.

November 19 was #ThankYouPatronsDay. My faith in making art was rekindled when I started connecting to my patrons in 2011. My Kickstarter and Bandcamp patrons allow me to release the music of Black Tape For A Blue Girl and my solo projects. Thanks so much for your support.

I've added some more live photos to the Gigography page. I also added a missing performance (Friday May 24 2002 | Virgin Megastore instore ~ New York City) which brings the show count to 150! Do you have photos of us live? If so, please get in touch.

Have a great holiday. I hope you're day won't be too stressful.

The Rope T-shirt reprint

  • November 16, 2019

preOrder Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s THE ROPE T-shirt at our Bandcamp page.

I hear from people that their original 90s shirt has worn out or gone missing. No worries! These recreate the original 90s design (black T, white ink on front, nothing on the back); however rather than boxy 90s-styled shirts that were once the style, these are printed on American Apparel #2001 — nicely-fitted modern-styled Ts. Printed in Northern-Kentucky by our friends at Forest Passage Printing.

This is a preOrder. We will be taking orders through the end of November, then placing the PO with Forest Passage, to ship from Oregon around Xmas.

In the photo above: BlackTape guest guitarist Chase Dobson. Check out Chase’s music at bandcamp.

Slow Blur Video

  • November 12, 2019

I’ve posted another one of my early videos on youTube. A thank you to my patrons for covering the cost of the digital transfer. I created “Slow blur” before The Rope album existed, probably even before I came up with the name “black tape for a blue girl.” I was living in Florida at the time and went with Robin to a building in downtown Fort Lauderdale to shoot some footage (Robin tells me it was the library, I thought it was a parking garage.) Most of the video happens inside an elevator, some of the quick-cuts are outside with lights inset in the sidewalk illuminating her face (that's the way The Rope cover image is lit, it's from the same footage as this video.) Back in the day, I created slow-motion by “rescanning” the monitor in the editing room at Broward Community College (thanks Steve!) — IE: I aimed a camera at the monitor and videotaped it. The slow motion caused those white static lines moving through the frame. These days, I’m sure that looks like a technical error? Back then, it was a way to use a mistake as part of the art. Did the music come before the video, or the other way around? So many things lost to time… I’m guessing Lara’s violin was repurposed from the previous album (did Lara play on my solo Secret Flight cassette? I think so?). And the content of the video? A lot of The Rope was inspired by Robin. I was pretty obsessed with her at the time. I was going to write “in love with her,” but from the vantage of time it seems a lot more like obsession rather than love. I met Robin when I worked at the Peaches Record store by the Broward Mall. Robin came in looking for an LP from the Import section; I was the import buyer. I was enraptured. Her parents were from Iran & Scotland. Robin was so intriguing in boring BORING! South Florida. We were friends, I can see her talking to me in some of the bits of the video. It’s all sort of a distant fog, now. We’re still friends. Slow Blur.

We made it!

  • October 29, 2019

Hi, This is Sam from Black Tape For A Blue Girl. This is my final post about the crowdfunding campaign for the 2CD / LP expanded edition of Ashes in the brittle air.

Why is this the last one?

Because yesterday — with 36 hours to go — we did it! We made the $9000 goal! Kickstarter is all or nothing, and your pledges pushed another one of my campaigns over the top. Thanks! No matter how much you gave, your pledge helps create the expanded edition of Ashes in the brittle air.

I appreciate that!

The campaign has 12 hours to go. There’s still time to pledge if you’d like a copy. Currently, 249 backers are giving $9530 in support. Now that we’ve passed the goal, your pledges give me a bit of profit — it’s always nice to earn something for the time I’ve spent preparing this rerelease. : )

Backers receive extra premiums that won’t be available to retail buyers. There’ll be a memorabilia fanzine with interviews and photos, higher tier levels include an actual unseen physical-photo from the cover shoot, and last night I added another bonus: every pledge for a 2CD or LP receives a sticker of the album cover.

Thanks so much for your help.


Did you know there’s an Ashes in the brittle air video (from 1989)?

  • October 24, 2019

Hi, This is Sam from Black Tape For A Blue Girl — With 5 days to go on the Ashes in the brittle air crowdfunding campaign, we're 68% funded. 145 people have joined together to pledge $6172 towards the $9000 goal of creating an expanded 2CD & clear-vinyl LP edition! The remastered 11-track album sounds fabulous. Pledge at Kickstarter.

In 1989 I made a video for "is it love that dare not be? / ashes in the brittle air." It never was shown anywhere, and nobody has seen it in the last 28 years. I digitized it and posted on youTube.

Is it love that dare not be? / ashes video history

Another piece of history from the archives! I had such a warm sweet feeling watching this video the other day, the first time in 28+ years. My college friends Kathryn (dancing) and Dimitri (her mostly immobile partner) swept across my monitor recreating the rolls they’ve played in my mind for the last three decades — for all of eternity. And me the viewer, knowing every frame by heart yet watching like it was the first time, excited for what would come next.

My patrons provided the funds to cover the cost to transfer some of my old 3/4-inch (U-matic) videos. This was the first clip the guy at the lab sent me; perfect timing.

From what I recall, I shot & edited this two-song video after the release of Ashes in the brittle air. The video had technical issues I wanted to fix back in the day, but couldn't because I didn't have good enough equipment. I never was sure about showing this piece. I've fixed those problems, at last!

Back in those days it would have been difficult for most fans to see this video, anyway, as we didn’t have the internet. Fortunately we do now! Everyone can enjoy the “is it love that dare not be? / ashes in the brittle air” video at youTube

Support the expanded edition of Ashes in the brittle air at Kickstarter . A download is a $5 donation, clear vinyl LP is $30, CD is $20. Everyone gets the 21 bonus tracks.

A few pictures from 1989, meeting Sue-Kenny, free download of remastered Ashes in the brittle air, and Kickstarter update.

  • October 11, 2019

Hi, it’s Sam from Black Tape For A Blue Girl — With 18 days to go on the campaign, we’re 43% funded. 94 people have joined together to pledge $3,931 towards Ashes in the brittle air. Thanks so much! Things are moving along nicely. The campaign is all or nothing, every pledge is important to make the 2CD / clear-vinyl LP exist! Head over to Bandcamp for the free download of the remastered 11-track album. It sounds fabulous. If you like what you hear and can chip in a little bit, pledge at Kickstarter.

I’ve had a few questions about this — I’d like to remind overseas backers that shipping will be charged after the campaign is over; ie: shipping is not included in your pledge. I’ve done this on my last 4 campaigns, it’s worked out nicely. Jan at DeeJayDead in Germany will fulfill European orders, to help reduce the cost of postage. Read more in this update.

1989! We were all so young! Maybe some of you weren’t even born yet? Oscar was 27. I was 23. I’m guessing Sue is around my age. I’m going through old photos, rekindling my memory on what things were like and what was going through my thoughts at the time.

Here are some photos from when we were working on Ashes.

Oscar in Miami

Sue, somewhere in London, saying goodbye after we recorded her tracks.

Meeting Sue-Kenny Smith, vocalist on Ashes in the brittle air.

In 1987 was a TV/film student at Chapman College in Orange California. The students made a talk show for the local cable company and somebody suggested they interview me about my music; I’d already released The Rope LP and I was working on Mesmerized by the Sirens. Sue-Kenny (also a comm student) was the host (though it’s possible the host alternated each week, so everyone got to practice); I think it was the first time we met. During the interview I mentioned that Black Tape For A Blue Girl had a lot of different members; Sue asked, “So how do you find people to be in your band?” And I said something like, “I ask random people I meet. Do you sing or play?” Something offhand like that. She said she did and I asked her right there on the show if she’d like to come round to the studio to see what we could create together. I recorded her tracks for Mesmerized in the vocal booth at college. For Ashes, I went to England and we recorded for a few hours in a studio in Brixton. They were dynamiting somewhere near by; when I isolate the vocal tracks I hear the booms in the background of her takes. We lost touch (pre-internet), were briefly in contact about 6 years ago on Facebook, but I haven’t been able to reach her since. I’ve love Sue-Kenny’s style. It’s really nice to hear her vocals on six of the unreleased and demo tracks on the 2nd disc / download of the expanded edition.

May 1989. Sam with Miira, who is on the cover of 87’s Mesmerized by the sirens.

”Ashes in the Brittle Air is Black Tape for a Blue Girl’s third full-length record, and \ finds the band expanding on their ambient & neoclassical influences to incorporate more dark swagger.” – Post-Punk

A $50 pledge at Kickstarter includes your choice of the 2CD or LP, memorabilia booklet, downloads,
an unseen photo, and a journal with a few lines of handwritten lyrics inside.

Thanks so much,

Ashes in the brittle air (30th anniversary expanded edition) – Kickstarter

  • September 27, 2019

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 30 years since I released the Ashes in the brittle air album; I was 23 at the time. My Kickstarter to create the 2CD/LP expanded edition is now live, and receiving donations from fans like you! Every pledge helps us get closer to creating the deluxe edition. Ashes is the album that brought my band to a lot more listeners, especially via radio play on the goth rock (with ambient thrown in) track “Across a thousand blades.”

The 30th Aanniversary remastering of Ashes in the brittle air sounds amazing! The vocals are so much more present, the instruments are clear, yet the album retains that dreamy, romantic quality you remember from the 80s. Hey, don’t just read me talking about it… go get yourself a copy! It’s a free download at Bandcamp during the crowdfunding campaign! If you like what you hear, please go to the Kickstarter page and make a pledge. The download includes the pristine and powerful 2019 mix of “Across a thousand blades,” plus an 8-song Highlights of recent BlackTape releases. Every backer who pledges at Kickstarter gets a 21-track bonus download (as soon as my mastering guy finishes it). It includes five finally-mixed-to-perfection tracks that were cut from the 1989 release, as well as a number of demos and early mixes, including the evolution of “Across a thousand blades.”

🔪 ★ 🔪 ★ 🔪 ★ 🔪 ★ 🔪 ★ 🔪 ★ 🔪 ★ 🔪 ★ 🔪 ★ 🔪

Ashes in the brittle air – patron-exclusive digital editions of 2 cassettes from late 80s

  • August 4, 2019

2019 is the 30th anniversary of Black Tape For A Blue Girl’s 3rd album, Ashes in the brittle air. I’m gathering together material for a deluxe edition. Howard will remaster the album from the original source; I had my guy in Canada transfer the 1/4-inch 2-track mix to high-resolution digital. I also had him transfer 6 unreleased tracks from the 1/2-inch 8-track tape; I’m almost done mixing them for the bonus disc (they sound amazing!). I’m going through my cassette archive to find interesting demos and early mixes for you. I’m already at 45 minutes of bonus material for disc 2, and there’s still more to gather.

With CD sales the way they are these days, how can I afford to do this?

The simple answer is you allow me to do this. Some of the band’s hardcore supporters pledge at my bandcamp patron area which provides the funding to pay for this pre-production work, and also a bit to me for my time. It’s great knowing people are moved by the art I create and want to help me make more of it!

You can help for as little as $5 a month.

In the past two weeks, I digitized the cassettes shown above, making them available for my patrons. Cassette vol. 4 + 5 pre-Ashes 1987 contains 15 tracks & Cassette vol. 6 pre 15 April 1988 contains 18 tracks. A good chunk of these pieces have never been heard before (some for good reason!). They’re a real slice of the 80s, for those of you interested in the genesis of this classic album. Most of those tracks will not be on the bonus disc. Click the links for track listing and read my recollection. They are available streaming or download; I will transfer a couple more cassettes before the month is over.

Patrons get a lot of exclusive material!<

I’m unearthing all of this in advance of the upcoming Ashes in the brittle air Kickstarter for a 1-LP clear vinyl edition and a 2-CD deluxe edition. I expect the CD will ship before the holidays and the LP in early 2020. There’ll also be cool memorabilia and exclusive items for those who want to help out with a larger pledge. Plus a very reasonably priced download of the 2-CD edition.

I’m finding all sorts of cool images, old press, etc. in my files — this will be really great. Thanks to everyone who has given me encouragement. It’s so nice to read that Ashes is some people’s favorite album, along with little recollections of where you were when this album touched your lives. That makes it so worthwhile!

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