A World Divided Tapes is exactly what DIY punk is all about. The label focuses on underground bands from the Mediterranean punk scenes and is 100% non-profit.
To keep costs at a minimal, tapes are the primary format. Owner Ghassenne is dedicated to the scene and giving it a bigger platform for the rest of the world to hear.
If you aren’t familiar with punk from this side of the world, there is no better place to start than with A World Divided Tapes.
You describe A World Divided Tapes as “A collaborative, non-profit label that promotes Mediterranean and international punk.” Why did you decide to start a label focusing on the Mediterranean area? What is your background in the punk scenes?
The Mediterranean region is important in terms of mix of cultures and of peoples—it has been that way for thousands of years and it continues to be so.
I’m from Tunisia and wanted to create a label that focuses on bringing all of these cultures together through punk, especially in the Southern Mediterranean where there is a huge potential. Although I listen to a very wide spectrum of genres, punk has always been the constant throughout my life and has always been a driving force and an ideology, a way of life.
When did you start the label and what was the first release? What is it about cassettes that made you choose them as your primary form of media?
I started the label in December 2019—and at that time I was in contact with Demokhratia, hardcore punk band from Algeria—we agreed to reissue their first EP Bled El Petrol Takoul Lekhra, which became the first release on A World Divided.
I chose cassettes as the primary distribution choice for many reasons—the first being the production and distribution costs are low, which makes it easier to make and to obtain. I also see cassettes as a great promotional tool, they fit in your pocket and you can bring them to shows, pass them along.
Tapes can never replace vinyl or digital but are super important, as they have brought back that physical dimension to music in a way, something which got quickly washed away by streaming and online music platforms. Also, being a child of the 80s the nostalgia was too difficult to ignore!
Many of the bands have a similar theme to their lyrics, which is political corruption. This makes sense considering some of the political strife these countries have faced for a long time. What role do you feel DIY punk has in the world of politics? Do you gravitate toward bands that are more socio-political than mainstream bands?
DIY punk empowers people and allows them to create, to think freely and to exchange ideas without the socio-economic or political restrictions a society can impose.
This is especially important south of the Mediterranean, where the reality of police states is still very present—in countries like Algeria or Egypt, being in a political punk band is extremely risky, compared to more liberal societies such as Tunisia or Lebanon.
Why is it important for you to have the label be a “non-profit”?
My goal with AWD was always to promote the bands and their music and to create a platform in which people can discover—personally, its a labor of love and exceeds by far the pursuit of financial gain, which is not only contrary to the punk philosophy, but also can de detrimental to the musicians and their support network as money corrupts and distorts!
Talk about some of your favorite releases you have released. Explain to our punk readers who might not know who these bands are, why you think they should know who they are.
Bands like Demokhratia, Mara’a Borkan, Detox, Caged Bastard, ZWM, Riot Stones—these bands are from areas where punk is not understood—they have struggled to have a following and sometimes lack the courage and means to expose to share their messages and their music abroad—I have to say that I am proud of helping all these bands!
How do you become aware of these bands and albums? Are these all bands you have been around and seen live? Are they bands friends have introduced you to?
TONS OF RESEARCH—but its varies greatly, a lot of them are friends, a lot of them I’ve just discovered through live events or through people.
Yes—some of these releases have been referred to the label—that’s the beauty of punk its a strong community and we all love to help each other!
What do you feel is the state of the independent music business right now? How do you think it will keep surviving after quarantine?
The quarantine has definitely had a serious toll on independent music. The bands who rely on tours and gigs to stay afloat and to keep their music alive, and their fans who are dying to see their next live shows aren’t having a great time. But I doubt that this will have a detrimental impact. We all know it’s temporary—plus its amazing to see all of the creative ways bands are expressing themselves right now despite the restrictions.
You release some new releases but you also re-issue some classics like Nuclear Mutants from Cyprus and Lebanon’s Detox. Is the process of re-issuing a DIY band difficult? Walk us through the process.
It can be challenging, yes—usually (99% of the time) but also bands are motivated to collaborate on a release and they love to see thei rmusic get distributed around the world. Communication is definitely key and its especially fun to goober the artwork and material before releasing it.
What is on the future horizon for A World Divided?
Releasing more amazing punk!
Is there anything you would like people to know about the label that we didn’t cover?
Go listen to some amazing punk!