Beats for your Mind, Body and Soul: Catching up with Acorn Tapes.

As selfish as we are sometimes, we couldn't really keep this one to ourselves.




Leeds/London based record label Acorn Tapes, run by Tom Dyer and Dan Crow specialise in digital and cassette releases bringing a varied style of jazz, hip hop, lo-fi, soul and funk into a compilation of different tracks and tapes. Having put out over 20 different tapes from some of their favourite beat-makers around the world each tape has a distinct theme throughout which fits into the overall identity that Acorn has curated. This makes it hard to pin Acorn down to a specific genre, but rather a collection of tapes, loosely based around Hip Hop beats with variations of Funk, Soul and Gospel samples to match.

While the music speaks for itself, the artwork and design aesthetic behind the tapes themselves makes them a must have for anyone with an interest in decent music and graphic design. Drawn up and realised by New York/Leeds based graphic studio Catalogue, these guys nail the subtle, yet beautifully drawn and colour matched aspects of the graphics seen throughout Acorn, giving a further dimension to their individuality. 

We caught up with friend, owner and longtime beat-maker, Tomcat to ask him a couple of questions about Acorn, his home city of Leeds and some other silly stuff. Enjoy...

If you had to how would you explain Acorn Tapes to your 2 yr old son, Fox?

Fox you know those little plastic things that you think are toy cars that you like to break into tiny pieces and pull the film out of? Well they’re actually Daddy’s tapes from his music label called Acorn Tapes. We listen to a lot of it when we’re in the car or in the garden at home and you bop your little head to it. It’s a lot of Daddy’s friends music or people whose music I really like from all over the world and we put it on tapes for people to listen to.

How do you choose who to put out on Acorn, do you approach people or let producers come to you?

 I don’t think we’ve ever released anything from anyone who’s approached us. Not to say that I wouldn’t if something blew my head off but generally I approach people, I dig. Often it comes from a long standing appreciation of someones music / an existing relationship. It’s all happened pretty ‘organically’.


What’s the hardest part of running your own label? What would be the one thing you say to people thinking of doing something similar?

 On the scale that Acorn is on it’s not too difficult. I suppose it can be difficult to maintain a regular flow of releases but I don’t have an issue having small gaps between releases. I’d rather bring out less and keep the quality of output high. You’ve got to love the music you’re releasing. You have to take pride in it and not take short cuts. Stick what you know and like. Don’t try to copy anyone else.


What can we expect in the future? Have you got any releases / nights / mixes or anything we should watch out for?

Loads of ongoing projects with artists we’ve been into for a while. Sometimes it can take months or years for a project to come to fruition so I’ll keep it quiet for now. We’re looking to start up Acorn Radio and more regular NTS shows in the near future. A full collection of new merch coming real soon too.


Where are some of your favourite places to hang out in Leeds?

Love a bit of Thai Aroy Dee on Vicar lane! The Angel inn, Bundobust, Reliance, Zucco, as well as some bars in the Meanwood area like Alfreds and The Mrytle Tavern. Can’t forget Outlaws Yacht Club , Yummy Sushi, Bare café either and Wayward Wines too.


Finally, I hear you’re quite the singer, what would your X factor song of choice be if you went on?

Peabo Bryson – Feel The Fire 1000000% I’ve actually dreamt of doing this.

Dan Phillips