New Miami Label Ear Problems Is All About the Cassette

For local artist Daniel Mendez, making music under the alias Triangles was simply not enough. In the DIY spirit of today’s culture, Mendez decided to take on the additional responsibility of forming his very own cassette-tape label called Ear Problems

The label hopes to support local artists by giving them an alternative platform to digital release. Ear Problems' launch is also coinciding with a 14-track project from Mendez himself called Swimming in Solids. It will be the first album under the label, with a limited edition 50-cassette release. 

Mendez recently spoke with New Times about the inspiration for this new leg of his career and what he has in store for the future. 

New Times: Why did you decide to start your own music label? 
Daniel “Triangles” Mendez: Well, I started Ear Problems because I’ve been making music for a while now and I wanted another output besides digital distribution service companies such as Soundcloud and Spotify. These companies are great, don’t get me wrong, but you barely make that much money out of your plays. Did you know that getting 1 million hits on one song would only pay you around $5,000? Nowadays, if you want to make money as an artist, you either have to tour a lot or sell a lot of physical copies.  

What is the overall plan for the label?
The Miami music scene has a bunch of great artists coming up right now and I want to help shape it into a much bigger and better scene with Ear Problems. We plan on throwing events in the future so artists who want to showcase their skills can do it without having to struggle to look for a venue.
Cassette tape is the format of choice for the label. Why tape and why do you think there’s been a resurgence as of late? 
Just as vinyl had its resurgence four years ago, cassette had its two years ago. There’s a bunch of small indie labels across the world that are doing this and they’re killing it. People think it’s because of a trend that I’m doing this when it’s really not. If you are an audio junkie as much as me, you know that vinyl and cassette have their own specific sound. People have been coming back to these formats because nowadays everything’s so clean and digital that hardly any of it feels real anymore. With vinyl and cassette, you can actually hold the album and make a physical and emotional connection to it. I’m going to do vinyl releases in the future but not right now because those require much bigger quantities to make a minimum order for a test pressing, while cassettes are way more easy to produce and duplicate.

The first release on the label is actually a project under your alias, Triangles. Was it always intentional to release this project alongside the launch of the label? 
Yeah, I’ve definitely been planning on releasing the label alongside the project. I did a bunch of jazz beat tapes before and I grew tired of it. Back when I started making music a couple of years ago, I used to do a lot of electronic music, so I decided to get back into it. Swimming in Solids is a mixture of jungle, jazz, and beat music that I made over this past year. I’m really proud of this project because I went from sampling everything to almost playing every melody and baseline on every track.

Is the release a hint toward the general sound of the label or will you venture into other genres? 
Swimming in Solids doesn’t mean that every other Ear Problems release after has to sound like it. Quite the opposite; I plan on Ear Problems being an open-genre label. If it sounds great and innovative, count me in.

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Junette Reyes is a Miami native multimedia journalist with previous writing credits at FIU Student Media, South Florida Music Obsessed, and WLRN. She generally prefers chilling with cats over humans and avoids direct sunlight to maintain her ghastly appearance.