For our new cassette reissue, we are very happy to present a pure D.I.Y gem, "The Old Guard" by Californian hometaper Nicole Campau.
'The Old Guard' was recorded in 1987 in San Jose by Nicole herself, at the early age of 11. She was helped by her father Don Campau, a musician and radio-host active since the 1960's, whom lend her his TEAC A3440 4 track open reel recorder. Nicole wrote the lyrics, sang, played acoustic guitar and Moog synth, while her father played other keyboards, percussions and turntables. He later released the tape on his own label, Lonely Whistle. The result is a unique blend of minimal synth mixed with cheerful poetry and rap tunes, crossed by a lo-fi folk song and Nicole's personal notes to herself with random asides, as only kids know how to do it.
When we first heard her classic minimal synth track 'New Fashion', we were instantly hooked by its playfulness and we wanted to learn more about Nicole, knowing nothing about her at this point, even her age.. 'New Fashion' being only the tip of the iceberg, we started to investigate with the track on repeat, wondering if there were many others, dying to hear more and to learn her story. It turned out that Nicole's father, Don Campau, was back then a major figure of the hometaper scene, as a musician, radio host and label head. He's still very active nowadays through his radio show "No Pigeonhole" and his archival project, 'The Living Archive Of Underground Music', dedicated to the cassette culture. As for Nicole, after having recorded 'The Old Guard' at 11, she later made another and last tape at 19 named 'Akrisa', a darker and introspective output. She did also produce a poetry CD when she was going to San Jose State University but never pursued music after that. She's now raising her own children in the SF area and works as an english teacher.
In many ways, this tape is much more than an average kid's recreation. Nicole had fun creating stuff out of nowhere but also turned it into something tangible and intellectually constructed.
We warmly thank Nicole for letting us unearthing her work and Don Campau for his kind help and contextualisation.