The Unique Anatomy of the Perfect Mix Tape

What’s in a mix tape? In between homework and sewing skateboard clothes, my high school pal Alex (Hi Alex!) would dub his eccentric music onto Memorex cassette tapes. The likes of Pixies, Fugazi, NOFX, Hüsker Dü, Violent Femmes, and The Vandals all opened my mind to a whole other world of sonic satiation. (And made for rad skateboarding sessions at the local TG&Y) This generosity carried over through the years as cassette tapes were carefully crafted and compiled to send to other friends. A social network of underground music. 

The dual cassette player was the ultimate game changer for sharing music long before Spotify and Pandora. These mix tapes were like secret messages to your pals and loved ones. Each was made specifically for that person with careful thought and time. Oh the time it took. REAL time (until Hi-Speed dubbing).

Then came the artistry of the J fold insert. The album artwork, that is. Hand drawn illustrations, glitter, rubber cement, and Xeroxed collages all played a beautiful part of the mix tape process. Handwriting track listings for sides A and B was a patient exercise. 

These truly one-of a kind custom compilations got us through so many rough times. Music and art have been so very dear to me through the years and from a young age. I think this is why I keep coming back to the cassette tape, vinyl record, and other musical motifs in my paintings from time to time. It’s a wonderful reminder of these emotional escapes and overall a positive influence. Above all, its simply fun.

Mix Tape Proof In The Pudding

Here’s one made for me by an art school friend way back in 1993. It opens with Björk’s “Aeroplane” and features some 40’s French Jazz as well as one of the compositions of Peter Gabriel’s phenomenal soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ.

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