· By Dominic Fabrig
Interview with Tape Gawd Joshua Candelaria
I can’t help but be fascinated by serious collectors. There's something special about them, some magical motivation that pushes them. How else can you put the pieces of an ever-growing puzzle together? If anything, it takes an unrelenting focus. Thankfully Joshua Candelaria, who you may know as @Whitexican_1 on Instagram, has this quality in spades.
Candelaria is an ardent supporter of the beats scene, which is obvious if you've ever scrolled through his posts. Matter of fact, his Inner Ocean collection is probably more complete than anyone’s, even ours. With so many sought-after artifacts in one place, it was only a matter of time until we interviewed the Tape Gawd about his massive library.
If you had to guess, how many tapes do you have in your collection?
Wow, that's hard to say. My tapes are a mess right now, piled everywhere, haha. It’s difficult to get an accurate count, but if I had to guess, it must be approaching over 2,500 cassettes. I don't only collect tapes. I also have about 65–7i0 crates of vinyl records, almost another 3,500 CDs, 2,500 DVDs, around 250 original Nintendo and SNES games, and about a dozen short boxes of comics from the '80s, ‘90s, and older. I have a problem lol.
What's the first thing you started collecting?
I was raised by my grandparents and we would go out almost every weekend to antique shops, yard sales, and thrift stores as a kid. So I needed to look for something on these trips, stuff like books or toys. Eventually I started collecting comic books with money I earned doing chores. I collected comics for years up until middle school, then switched it up to collecting music in the form of CDs. I actually sold all my old tapes (which I still regret) around the end or right after high school, and I didn't really start collecting vinyl or tapes again until years later, when I started working full-time.
What are you most proud of in your collection?
Hmmm… In general I'm proud of the collection as a whole. It's like a time capsule of not only my life but of music, film, and other pop culture. I love music because it's like a time machine, transporting you back to the time and place you heard it first and all the memories that go with that. My collection sparks those emotions and memories for me on a daily basis, through music, film, and art. But if I had to pick some highlights I'd have to mention Teebs, I have some art pieces and prints of his, including his records and a few one-off hand painted/customized covers. I'm fond of my Ras G collection (RIP, ASP forever!) specifically the first 5 Chuckles cassette tape with Koreatown Oddity that came limited in a used Backwoods wrapper. Flying Lotus's limited Captain Murphy vinyl. A couple J DILLA and MF DOOM (RIP to both the LEGENDS) limited box sets. A handful of CEP art prints and FLYGOD and Don't Get Scared Now on cassette by Griselda. And some random souvenirs like the Madlib Medicine Show pill jar, Pete Rock Soul Survivor afro-pick and my Westside Connection large foam hand throwing up the W.
How do you organize everything?
When they're not in piles all over my floor, I have my music loosely organized by genre or style, record labels, crews, music organizations or groups, chronologically, not in alphabetical order. For my movies, it's similar, also not alphabetically but more by genre and director, chronologically by their debut.
So, why tapes?
I'll be 40 next year and grew up in the cassette era right before CDs became common, so part of it is definitely nostalgia. Let's face it, cassettes have never been known for the greatest audio. I love their unique lo-fi sound and hiss, but it's a niche market, not very desirable for most, especially in this era of digital music. In fact it was because of the end of the music game as we knew it in the early 00s and the explosion of the internet and new digital era of mp3s, that I got back into cassette tapes. I had stopped listening to radio and mainstream music for quite some time at this point and most everyone was releasing their music underground, independently only in the digital format which was frustrating for me coming from an era of physical music. I was collecting vinyl already but it was getting expensive, then around the late 2000s/early 2010s I discovered some of these artists were putting out their music, limited on tape, for cheaper, and was the only way to get their work in a physical form which I was excited for. It eventually took over my collection in recent years. It also became kind of trendy at a certain point, which led to opportunists taking advantage and overcharging for one of the cheapest formats and exploiting the cassette community unfortunately. I feel like the cassette resurgence has lost some popularity but luckily the underground is still keeping the cassette culture alive, and of course, great labels like Inner Ocean.
If money were no object, what else would you collect?
Besides more music and rare vinyl, I'd also love collecting various kinds of art, new and old, of all types of mediums, classic cars/lowriders, film and concert posters/memorabilia, comics, arcade games, books, toys/action figures and other antiques. But only if i had the money and space for it all.
Where do you see you and your collection in 10 years?
Hopefully still alive and collecting. I don't really think too much in the future, kind of just take life one day at a time for me. Everyone has their issues, my family is long gone and I've battled with depression for most of my life and although my collection has been very costly financially, it brings me happiness in this hectic world. I'm a hoarder, lol, I don't resell or trade, so I'm kind of scared to think how much bigger the collection could be in 10 years. I think at some point I would probably refine and downsize the collection to just the cream of the crop, if I needed to free up space and money, but not in the plans anytime soon.
Off the top of your head, what are some of your favorite album covers?
I'm going to hate myself for not remembering more but off the top I'd have to say:
I have to ask...top three Inner Ocean tapes?
This is a tough one, too much heat to choose from…
And the Futures compilations which I believe were some of my first introductions to Inner Ocean.
What do you do to relax?
Back in the day I would have said drinking, but I'm over 7 years sober now, so instead I'll still occasionally smoke herb and take dab to relax. Of course listening to music is always a go-to, also walking my dogs or just going out in nature or by the water/ocean.
What’s on your list to cop next?
I'm always buying music so who knows, lol, I'm adding stuff to my wishlist all the time. I do have a few major missing pieces from the collection I'd like to try to hunt down eventually. I'm looking for Ghost Of Living by Vic Spencer and Big Ghost LTD to complete my Daupe! cassette collection. I need 4 more early tapes for my Nekubi Tapes collection, and have been searching forever for the first Earwax Fizzica comp to complete my Fuzzoscope cassette collection.
All-time favorite movie?
Damn this is a difficult one for me, I'm never good at narrowing down my favorite of anything lol. I'm into the old school classics, crime, sci-fi, horror, and other "cult classics". Here's a random list of some top favs:
The Holy Mountain
Style Wars (Documentary)
Night of the Living Dead
Planet of the Apes
Wizard of Oz
Enter the Dragon
Blood In Blood Out
...and so many more, pretty much anything by Alejandro Jodorowsky, George A Romero, John Carpenter, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, Jim Jarmusch, Martin Scorsese, David Cronenberg, Quentin Tarantino, Guillermo del Toro to name a few...
Best burger joint?
If we're talking fast-food burgers, hands down, In-N-Out Burger out here on the West Coast. But my favorite, non fast-food burger joint is the awesome Grill 'em All Burgers, which started out as a food truck then eventually opened up a brick and mortar in Alhambra, CA. Everything is METAL and Pro Wrestling themed and their food is epic in size, toppings, and flavor! Highly recommend whatever their burger of the month is, never a let down. Also some other classics to try are the Cowboy from HELL burger, High on Fries, or their Behemoth burger with grilled cheese sandwiches as buns! 🤘🏼
Bonus question. What’s your first music purchase?
I made my first music purchase, on my own with my own money, when I was probably 11 in ’93. Two cassettes: The Beach Boys - Greatest Hits and Dr. Dre - The Chronic. Maybe a few months later, the next two tapes I got were NWA - Straight Outta Compton and the newly released, at the time, Doggystyle by Snoop Doggy Dogg. By middle school I finally got a CD player, but can't remember my first CD. Probably Nirvana - Nevermind or Metallica's black album. I got my first vinyl record in high school, a used copy of Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon, years before i even owned turntables.
Endless thanks to Joshua for sharing with us. Follow @whitexican_1 on Instagram or visit bandcamp.com/whitexican to check out more of his collection.