I USED TO MAKE…MIXTAPES

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Back around 1994, I got a Tascam 4-track recorder and started to make mixtapes. At a later point, I upgraded to a digital multitrack (Roland SP-808) but the sensibility was the same on all the tapes I made from 1994 through 2001: pick a selection of indie and major label singles and try to creatively mix them together.

It finally took until today but I now have all of them online via my Mixcloud account. Here’s a mini-history:

These were all the first ones, when I was both learning how to master the Tascam plus playing with format ideas. Without trying to pat myself on my back…I actually was surprised how well some of these held up. They’re not best-of-class or anything but I still enjoy listening to them and while I might quibble with some song selections now, I liked the ideas I was working with back then, especially in finding subtle ways to make use of the multitrack dimension. Of the batch, Vol. 1 and 2 are my sentimental favorites, just because I was so new to the whole thing.

These marked a transition towards more professionally manufactured mixtapes rather than dubbing them at home, by hand (which is how I used to do them). My design skills were…not memorable. Musically too, I feel like I hit a real stride from Vol. 6 and onward in terms of still liking the vast majority of what I put on there. 9/10 would do again. Also, I’m eternally proud that Head Warmers made the LP art for DJ Shadow’s Private Press.

I’m not 100% certain but I think these two marked the point at which I had upgraded from the analog Tascam to the digital Roland SP-808. There isn’t a huge difference that most would notice (though I knew because punching in was less obvious with the Roland). Double Flip was particularly ambitious: a two-cassette mix featuring about two hours of music in total. I think my favorite part of that was figuring out the intros to each of the four sides. Auditory Assault marked my transition away from cassettes towards CDs.

There was supposed to be a Vol. 10, an anniversary-style mixtape that would have spanned the ’90s but alas, I was never able to get to that (maybe one daaaaaay).1

  1. Note: what I have above are only those that were part of the O’s Dubs series. I had other mixtapes – Incognitos for example – that I didn’t include in this post.

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