What’s old is very new again. I remember when cassettes were king, and I sincerely lamented the death of the humble tape. I wrote songs for my first bands onto cassette, and we recorded live rehearsals on tape as well. I still have many of them. Like other people of the 70s and 80s, as time wore on, we adapted to compact disc, and then streaming music from the cloud, as we were weaned off of vinyl and tape.
In the last couple of years, I have noticed bands putting out cassettes instead of CDs. And at first I laughed, but then I remembered all the tapes I have sitting in a box, including old 80s post-punk and Hardcore mix-tapes, and I became interested.
Since then, I am buying newly produced tapes from bands like Goya, Druglord and Cherubs, as well as scouring thrift stores for old tapes at a quarter a pop. I was able to find some decent decks at thrift stores, like an old Technics deck from the 80s and a great 1990s Pioneer double cassette deck for dubbing tape to tape. Long story short- I am totally hooked on the outmoded analog technology.
On Facebook, I am a member of some record collector groups; we post photos of our records, mostly the ubiquitous “Now Spinning” posts. Don’t judge!!!! Recently, I have found a couple of cool Cassette tape collector pages on Facebook, we post images of our latest acquisitions, or post tapes for trade. I have traded for some excellent mixtapes, and I have even sold thrift store finds for good money- more importantly, I have met some good people, from all over the world, and our only thing in common in many cases is our love of analog music.
A few weeks ago, a member of one of those groups, Te Hao Boon from Singapore, posted about an idea that he had. Basically, he wanted to start with 3 blank cassettes, send them to someone abroad, have them record any combination of original songs, cover songs, or a spoken word piece, and then send them to the next person on a list. He called the project The Travelling Mix-Tapes. The hope was that the tapes would travel across the globe to musicians everywhere, and it would be an amazing collaboration between people who have never met. I just finished recording mine- I added to the original, and the covers tapes, with music from my band Isolated Cockpit.
I haven’t been this excited about a music project in a very long time. I got to use my vintage tapedecks to dub my first mixtape in over 25 years. The possibilities are endless too; these tapes, and there will be more sent out as they fill up, can wind up being an amazing sociological experiment, or a massive work of art! Of course, it can also turn out to be a a jumbled mess of garbage, but who cares? The art is in the sending of the tapes, from one tapehead to the next. A globally produced mix-tape. The only thing that may kill the idea before the first tapes are filled is the fact that hardly anybody knows about this.
There is a Facebook group page, but again, it really hasn’t taken off like it should have. And that is what this little article’s purpose is- to spread the word and send out a call for mix-tape aficionados and musicians alike to get involved. You Post- Punker in Brazil, and bar band guitarist in England, the classically trained violinist in Moscow, and the Trombone player busking on Jackson Square in New Orleans. You all need to add your music to these tapes.
Go to the Travelling Mixtapes Facebook page and tell them that The Thugbrarian sent you, and get on the mailing list. The aim is for this to be truly global. Te Hao Boon started this venture from Singapore, and so far it has traveled around the United States. I would like to see these tapes hit the four corners. It’s free to join in, although you will be responsible for mailing the package abroad, but the cost is negligible, and the outcome is most assuredly worth the few dollars in shipping.
I have added a Travelling Mix-Tapes category to this blog’s header, and I plan on reporting the project’s progress as it moves along. Go join the Facebook Group, and follow this blog for the latest news.
The Travelling Mixtapes Facebook page can be reached at: