Image Credit: Alien Cake Music
Independent record label Alien Cake Music, masters of the slow reverb music subgenre, chat to RouteNote about playlist curation and the benefits of lo-fi music.
Independent record label Alien Cake Music are on a major mission to make you chill out. With over 39,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, their lo-fi tracks released RouteNote have found cross-platform success, put out by an enthusiastic team.
When we linked up with Alien Cake Music for an interview, we chatted to a team clearly thrilled to be doing what all great indie record labels should do – releasing music they genuinely love.
A specialty of Alien Cake is slow reverb music, the chilled, slowed-down cover versions of familiar songs, and it seems listeners can’t get enough. Their playlist Alien Cake Lofi, described as “music to get you through the night,” has 76,000 likes on Spotify.
Tracks like Nirvana cover “Come as You Are” have done big things for the label, gaining tens of thousands of streams, and securing fans who regularly revisit their artists and playlists.
Read on to find out how they did it – and also discover the successes Alien Cake is most proud of beyond the numbers.
Tell us about Alien Cake Music!
Alien Cake Music: Alien Cake started as a purely creative instrumental project, used to escape the artist-driven production that our main producer was so immersed in. As a pair of music lovers that grew up in the 90’s, it felt natural to focus on music that inspired us in the first place and to express our influences in a new and creative way.
Alien Cake became a sort of escape from everything current and a visitation to the nostalgia of the golden era of grunge and Alt-rock. It just felt right, so we ran with it and have released nearly 200 tracks since!
90s vibes are big at the moment, from Lorde channelling Primal Scream to the re-emergence of pop punk, and a lot of your music from Alien Cake reflects that. Do you encourage your artists to chase trends?
Trends are seemingly such a prominent factor now, maybe more than ever, with the fast-paced content and our shortened attention spans as consumers. We certainly look at the trends as a point of inspiration.
However, being so focused on 90’s nostalgia, we tend to sort of look back at trends from that era more so than we do trends of this era, if that makes sense?
For example, we analyse biographical and chart-driven data from the 90’s to pull inspiration about what songs to turn into current lo-fi versions, and still pay homage to the original artists and scene. Naturally, that is what seems to work best for us.
With so much new music out there, labels have to work hard to break through the noise. Have you got any social media tricks you’d recommend for music promotion?
For us it is all about consistency. When you take a look at how fast trends come and go, it seems to be a bit counterproductive to always change your strategy to fit the current trends. It all stems from loving the shit out of what you do, doing it often – and keeping consistent.
We also love to take requests, and get some really cool suggestions. We try to do at least one song request a week and then shout out that person in a post.
Show your audience you’re there for them and continue to deliver consistently. We show up for them, and they’ll show up for us.
When you think back on what you’ve achieved as a label, what springs to mind first? For example, that might be an artist you were most proud to sign for personal reasons – not necessarily commercial success.
Our first notable achievement stemmed from us just shooting the shit and talking about how amazing Kurt Cobain was as a songwriter, and realising that his songs can literally be adapted to fit any genre. Fast-forward two days later and we had a super vibey lo-fi version of “Come As You Are” that proved the point.
When we released that and saw the attention it received, in conjunction with our pure joy of re-adapting a Kurt song and, in our opinion, retaining the artistic integrity, it was a good moment for us.
Releases by your artists include cover songs which are slowed with reverb, which have been racking up the streams. Why do think listeners enjoy them so much? Is it down to nostalgia for the original song?
I do think nostalgia has a big part in our music’s success. For us, personally, that is why we started creating this music. Listeners certainly sit back and relax, while reflecting on whatever emotions are stirred up when these 90’s anthems penetrate their ears in a way that is new.
As for slowed and reverb, this is a trend we’re really into at the moment ourselves as listeners as well.
There’s something about just letting the day’s stresses vanish, while appreciating whatever activity we might be doing at that moment.
I think our listeners use our music in the same way we enjoy it.
You put out tracks five days a week, which is a commendable work ethic! How does online distribution make releasing music easier?
Our main producer is a bit mad like that haha. Some weeks he has completed 15-plus tracks between multiple projects.
Online distribution is so amazing, especially with RouteNote. The fact that we can schedule a release and have it live in stores two to three days later really helped us build our library quickly. This is paramount when building playlists and testing the waters, to see if listeners are going to eat it up… or not.
In addition, as a label, it allows us to track our releases with the detailed monthly stats we receive, and we can assess monthly goals and get the creative ideas fuelled by that data as well. (Shh, don’t tell our producer that we use data to drive creative decisions!)
How important do you think putting music on streaming services is for labels signing artists in 2022?
Having music on streaming services is a necessity in our opinion. With streaming services becoming more and more like social media platforms themselves, and vice versa, regularly posting content – in this case releases – is mandatory for acquiring listeners and getting them to come back.
And what do you look for when signing new artists?
Honestly, we are a small operation and really appreciate having very few moving parts. With that being said, dedication, consistency, and a true love for what we create is mandatory for an artist.
Being able to rely on an artist meeting deadlines, and creating super tasty tracks that have an edge to them, is key.
How do you hope Alien Cake Music will evolve?
Alien Cake plans to extend our library to cover other genres, to continue building our original music alongside our extensive library of covers, and we also plan to create merchandise to carry our branding into a physical medium.
What’s the best thing about running Alien Cake Music – and is there anything you wish you’d known before starting out?
We didn’t know anything starting this out, and that was probably the best situation to be in, otherwise we’d have been overthinking too much. So I can’t really say there is something we wish we knew prior to digging into this project.
The best thing about running Alien Cake Music is interacting with our audience and learning that we are doing something useful for them. The fact they listen to our music daily and interact with us is probably the coolest part.
Other than that, as 90’s kids making dope versions of 90’s songs we grew up with is a dream honestly.