In this monthly column, we’ll highlight our favorite websites and blogs that cover the Bandcamp universe. First up is the Israel-based site Audio Camp, a visually-stunning blog dedicated to finding bright and buoyant pop music on Bandcamp from all corners of the globe. We spoke with Benjamin, Chen and Hilla in Israel about Audio Camp’s origins.
Please describe your site to someone who hasn’t visited before?
Benjamin: It’s our way to recommend specific releases from the overwhelming number published every day—ones that we think should get your attention, but may disappear into the vast realms of Bandcamp.
What inspired you to start the site?
Benjamin: As a musician, I really love Bandcamp as a tool for publishing my music—but I noticed that a lot of it tends to get lost due to the overwhelming amount of releases. I wanted to recommend new albums that are likely to be forgotten. I gathered friends and music bloggers to take part and we launched the site in 2013. I was also inspired by the blog Bandcamp Hunter, which focuses on the Australian indie music scene.
Chen: All of us are music enthusiasts as well as music bloggers and musicians. I’ve been listening to music and writing about it for a long time. I started writing about popular music in forums and chats around 1997. I had been recommending music on my personal Twitter account when Benjamin suggested that we turn it into a site, so we did!
How do you explore Bandcamp? Give a first-time Bandcamp user a quick tutorial.
Hilla: I usually browse the tags of my favorite genres or of specific places from around the world.
Chen: I sometime go to the discover page, look at the new arrivals and start listening to random albums, or ones with eye-catching cover art. Once in a while I’ll feel really adventurous and go to the location tags. I pick one at random with my eyes closed (honestly!) and play whatever I find on that tag. I found some great artists that are regulars on my playlist that way.
Benjamin: I usually start at the “new arrivals” section. Sometimes I check the formats—cassettes are my favorites—or I’ll check genres such as “alternative,” “experimental” or “ambient.” Album covers are also important indication as well.
I noticed there is a team of bloggers who contribute to the site. Do each of you have a specialty or a genre you focus on? What other jobs do you have?
Benjamin: All of us have different musical taste and favorite genres. That’s kind of the point, that each of us will recommend the kind of music he/she loves. I am a musician [Morphlexis is my stage name, I also take part in the bands We Are Ghosts & Scorpio 70], music producer, a video artist and a label manager [Schwarz Neon Licht Records].
Chen: We write about music that we love, so none of us are assigned any specific genre—we all tend to write about different ones. I usually write about psychedelic rock, alt-country, shoegaze, surf and garage.
Hilla: I don’t think I specialize in one genre over the other, but I tend to write mostly about indie pop (synthpop, dreampop, anything ’80s influenced), hip-hop, shoegaze, new wave and, most recently, I also got into metal.
What are some of your favorite Bandcamp tags to explore?
Hilla: All of the genres I specified above. I also find that the tags for New Zealand, the Scandinavian countries and Portland, Oregon never disappoint. A lot of good music seems to be hailing from there.
Chen: As I mentioned before, I’m in my psychedelic phase at the moment so this is surely the most popular one for me. I also like Halifax—they have a great music scene over there.
Benjamin: Lo-fi, indie pop, shoegaze, garage, indie jazz, ambient, old reissues.
What are your five favorite records you’ve written about in 2016?
It’s an album based in recordings from 1968-1974
I’m in love with this one! This is psychedelic folk from Turkey. My mom is a huge fan of Turkish music from the ’70s and ’80s and there are a few things in there that reminds me of what she used to play around the house when I was young.
You’re based in Israel, right? What’s the local scene like? Are there venues you frequent? Who are your favorite Israeli bands at the moment?
Chen: Israel has a great indie scene, although my schedule these days doesn’t allow me to go to many shows (being a student, working and planning a wedding at the same time!) but there are a few venues that have some great artists performing. In Tel Aviv, you can find the Barby, which is very well known. I personally been going there for at least 14 years for local and international acts as well. There is also the Ozen Bar, which is based just above (and is a part of) a local and very popular CD and vinyl shop called The Third Ear (Ozen=Ear in Hebrew). Smaller venues in Tel Aviv include Levontin 7, Bialik Café and The Tsuzamen.
One of the more interesting local ensembles is We Are Ghosts. These are a few local musicians (two of them write for Audio Camp!) that meet up at unique locations (such as a cave, the desert and an Old Lepers’ Hospital) to perform and record albums that were improvised with no rehearsals. Totemo is another interesting group that includes the talented Rotem Or.
Benjamin: The Israeli scene is small and steamy.
Some of my favorite venues: OzenBar [Tel Aviv], Syrup [Haifa—but this venue is now sadly closed] and Hamazkeka [Jerusalem].
Here’s some of my favorite Israeli bands and artists: Saccadic Eye Motion [Shoegaze & Dreampop], The Aprons [Dream Pop], SwuM [Beats], Markey Funk[Library Music, old soundtracks], The Turbans [Psy-garage].
Hilla: Most of the international indie acts that come to Israel perform at Barby in Tel Aviv, so you can usually find me there. I also like to watch local acts play live in Jerusalem, in places such as the Blue Hole, HaMizkaka and Uganda, which was recently closed, unfortunately. My favorite Israeli indie band right now is LessAcrobats. They have a very polished sound and are great live.