Thursday, 5 June 2014

Mix Tapes 101

Hanging out with Derek all the time was definitely very inspiring and influential to me, which led to me dressing differently, listening to new types of music, and re connecting with my artistic side. D also wrote his own form of "poetry" we will call it, which also rubbed off on me. I started writing random rants of thoughts down as well as lyrics. Another creative and inspiring aspect of my friend was mixtapes, which were chock full of various genres of music and samples and sound clips from obscure records. He would also make up odd names for each side of the tape, as well as his own custom covers. I had always made mix tapes in the past, but not with so much enthusiasm and creativity, so I decided to give it a shot.

I borrowed a few records from Derek and dug into my collection as well as my parents vinyl collection. Once again my father's trusted JVC tape deck was a magical instrument with it's precision pausing abilities, allowing me to slickly edit the entire production. I mainly used a Cheech & Chong record that contained audio clips of scenes from their first movie "Up In Smoke" and spliced some of the better ones in between each of the songs I'd selected. The whole process was quite fun, and it was very rewarding to listen to the finished product. 

I decided to make my own custom cover as well, so I rounded up a few random magazines from around the house and started flipping through them. Anytime something interesting caught my eye, I would rip or cut the page out and put it aside. From there I neatly trimmed out whatever images and words I wanted to use from the torn out pages, and delicately arranged them all together in collage type formation. I did all of this right over top of the blank covers that would come with cassette tapes when you bought them. The glue stick had become my new best friend by this point. On the inside of the cover I would usually add even more custom imagery, or I would list all the tracks on the mixtape.

When I first started making these mixed tapes, I was still doing my co-op at the animation studio, which meant I had unlimited access to the xerox machine. I found some nice thicker stock white paper, so I began photocopying my covers onto the paper, rendering them to black and white images. This also covered any trace of image overlaps and whatnot, and generally made the cover look more professional and authentic, as if you had bought it from a store that way. After graduation I did not have access to the copy machine anymore, so the covers were now the actual created piece of art and not a xerox copy.

I had always bugged my folks to let me bring the stereo up to my room but they constantly refused my requests. As I got more deeply involved in my mixtapes it became like a hobby to me, as this was all I was doing with the free time I spent at home. Eventually I had multiple mix tapes on the go, which led to an ever growing pile around the stereo. I'd have numerous piles of records and CDs for each project on the go just laying on the floor awaiting cue, there were stacks of magazines I was using to steal images from, piles of random pages I had ripped out for future usage, and of course pens, markers, scissors and glue sticks. There was also an ever growing pile of scrap paper left over from the images I had previously cut out and used. Day by day these piles kept growing, until there was a sea of stuff encircling the stereo, leaving me barely any room to sit on the floor anymore.

Eventually my mother could not handle the mess in her 2nd living room (you know those rooms no one ever actually sits in or lives in) so she cracked down and demanded that I move the stereo up to my rec room. Finally! I had been waiting for this day to come for a very long time. The family stereo was now under my possession, and it would remain that way until the day I moved out...

A few examples of my mixtapes. The two tapes with black & white covers are xeroxed versions, "working the cops" is a straight up cut & paste job, and "Do You Hate Everything?" is a combination of xeroxing and layering images with glue. 

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