NME x Squarespace presents ReBuild Music – Taped Crusader Silas Gregory of Chalkpit Cassette Club shows us how to become a mogul in your own apartment with Squarespace

Chalkpit Records’ debut release was a sell-out success, with a little help from his Squarespace online store

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As the music industry surveilled the changes brought on by the pandemic in 2021, NME and Squarespace set out to find the people chasing novel ideas to make music better, freer, more inclusive and more accessible than ever.

Among the 10 winners is Chalkpit Records, a label operated by Silas Gregory, 26, and its plan to launch a cassette label – Chalkpit Cassette Club. That’s right – he’s bringing cassettes back.

For Silas, the attraction of those plastic-encased spools of joy is multiple: he believes the sound is warmer, the listening experience is deeper and he loves the physical objects, with their hinged jewel cases, inlay slip and often colourful cassette.

Chalkpit founder Silas checks in on his Squarespace website

It might be no surprise to learn that Silas loves vinyl, too, but while the record industry as a whole – and indie labels in particular – struggles to press vinyl, with some factories backed up until 2023 due to shortages of facilities, materials and, possibly, the burden of producing Adele’s album (check out News Editor Andrew Trendell’s in-depth investigation on the matter), no such problems exist in producing cassettes.

In fact, Isle Of Wight-based Silas gets his cassettes made just across the water on the South Coast of England, a friend on the island designs the sleeves and merch and orders are dispatched from Silas’s kitchen table. So: no overseas manufacture, no delays, no problem.

The first Chalkpit releases, in all their jewel-cased glory

Except, perhaps, for the fact that the volume of potential customers is restricted to those who own cassette players. Silas has a solution for that – or should that be two solutions. One is that each release comes with a download code so you can cheat and access the music digitally. The other is the stockpile of assorted tape players, Walkmans and portable cassette players he’s amassing, which are available to buy alongside the label’s releases on the Chalkpit Cassette Club site. But you might have to get in quick – the label’s first release, ‘The Unheard Studio Collection’ by Leeds band The Howl & The Hum, sold out almost instantaneously on its release on glorious canary yellow cassette.

The immediate success of Chalkpit Cassette Club bodes well for Silas, who also works in app development and plays in bands himself. But then, he has ambitions to match: Silas models his enterprise on NME favourite label Speedy Wunderground, whose manifesto and production method is the stuff of legend. For Chalkpit, the USP is to release music that can’t be found elsewhere, serving fans with alternate mixes, acoustic versions, rare tracks, demos and more. And speed is of the essence for them, too – Chalkpit’s third release, ‘Nature Doesn’t Rush’ by London psych band Volleyball, just dropped as a very snazzy purple cassette.

Silas packs an online order

We went to visit the Taped Crusader himself at Chalkpit’s island headquarters (actually his family’s very cool apartment in an old barracks-style building that was home to illegal raves back in the 1990s). We found Silas, on a typical day, managing his e-commerce orders on his Squarespace site, editing some gig footage he’d shot on – yep – a video cassette handycam – and, excitingly, packing a shipment for The Howlers’ ‘The Sum Of Our Fears’ cassette EP that pinged in in real time.

Hear more in our video above from Silas about his label, why Wet Leg are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Isle Of Wight’s booming music scene, and how he uses Squarespace to monetise his ideas bringing Chalkpit’s vision to life.

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