This November marks 15 years since publication of the first issue of the Masstransfer zine. It’s been a long journey from analog to digital that is drawing to a close. So much has changed over those years in the music industry, just about everything I used to publish and distribute the zine is dead or dying: indie record stores, book stores, Adobe PageMaker, compact discs, the post office. It’s an entirely different world now.
The concept for the zine emerged in late 1996. I was meeting lots of bands, usually through playing shows or even receiving demo tapes sent to the Mind Expansion record label, and noticing there weren’t many press avenues for these bands to get exposure. Around this time, the major print zines were Magnet, Alternative Press and CMJ, and there needed to be an outlet for the more space-rock and hybrid electronic music we were finding. By January 1997, work had begun and the format was finalized: a comic-book sized zine with a CD comp of music included.
Issue #1 was finally published in November 1997, and featured many bands related to the Mind Expansion label and the Astro Lanes record mail order I had been running. The zine included features on Seely, Home Studio Setups (the Asteriod #4), Lenola; while the CD compilation contained tracks by: Outrageous Cherry, Getaway Cruiser, Landis, the Asteroid #4, Lenola, Fuxa, Juicy Eureka, and Severance. For the most part, the bands on the comp CD reflected the articles in the zine, mostly because they we friends of ours. An interesting feature I had re-discovered recently was the article on Demo Reviews – it includes reviews of, you guessed it, demo tapes we had received, including Her Space Holiday (I still have the cassette tape he sent me), and Therisphere – a project from Quentin Stoltzfus who would go on to found Mazarin a few years later.
Work had already started on the next issue, and correspondences were rolling in from people interested in being part of the zine. I had been going to Toronto on a regular basis by that point, and had met a few people there who wanted to contribute, both with writing and music – most notably the addition of Derek Supryka as associate editor (and contributing a track as “Figital”). The second issue was expanded by 16 pages to include all of this new material, and although the first one was assembled by a graphic designer I had paid, by this time I had purchased a decent computer and was able to layout the issue myself. We had also obtained a CD burner (a big deal at the time) which made producing the comp CD so much easier. This issue featured: American Analog Set, Electrosonics, Cerberus Shoal, Tomorrowland, and Neotropic, along with recurring articles Stereo Repair Tips, Home Studio Setups and Computer Coroner. It was also signaled the premier of a multi-issue story Remote Sensing. The companion CD included tracks from some of my friends (Unexplained Transmissions, Figital, Urbandesign, Gravity Wax, Gateway), as well as rising stars like: Bright, Her Space Holiday, Accelera Deck, Transona 5 , Seely, Livestock, All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors and Bent Leg Fatima. The issue was published in November 1998, along with the first iteration of the website Masstransfer.net.
Thanks to the growing success of the zine, we received an even larger influx of material and contributors for the third issue. Stuff seemed to come from all over the place, especially a CD I got in the mail from the Estonian band Dallas, still a favorite of mine. Issue #3 continued the 48-page comic book format, and contained articles by Rachel Staggs (Goldstar), Phil Salathe, Terri Morton Anderson and Erik Kassab, in addition to myself and Derek. Bands featured in this issue included: Landing (after their first EP came out), Dallas, Tristeza, Clan Analogue, Stereolab, Perplexa, Signaldrift, Aleutian, and Icebreaker/NATO Arts. Many of those bands were also on the companion CD, along with: Cerberus Shoal, Transport To Summer, Micromars, Intro To India, Mirabilia, Minmae, Delta Waves, Electrosonics, Telemetry Orchestra, and atom[a]sonic. Published in late 1999, this issue marked the point at which a majority of the content was sent to us for consideration, as opposed to having to seek out material – a sign that we were doing something valuable for the scene.
(Part 2 is on the way)