my mixtapes at cassette store day

I was very excited when I heard about the Cassette Store Day event early last September. Cassette tapes had been an important part of my life, in particular my teenage years when I immensely listened to them through my walkman.

During the OK Video exhibition opening I stumbled on Dimas, one of the organisers, and I expressed my enthusiasm about the Cassette Store Day. He asked whether I had some mixtapes to exhibit at the event, so I started to dive into my cassette tapes collection and suddenly found myself wandering around in memory lane. (ps: For the last few weeks I had been reorganising my room, including my cassette tape collection, so it had already been a nostalgic week for me).

I started to buy cassette tapes with my own pocket money since 1994. In the beginning I only bought one tape in three months, then one a month, and soon three in one month. My favourite cassette stores were (and still are, although now I usually buy CDs) Duta Suara in Jalan Sabang and Musik+ in Sarinah.

I used to keep tracks of all my cassette tapes. Every one of them was numbered, and carefully stored in a special compartment. I kept a (handwritten) database of those tapes, including where and when I bought it and the rating/score I gave them. I later put the tapes in order of the ratings I gave them. Thus most Pet Shop Boys tapes were always side by side with Erasure, because I always gave them five stars.

In 1997 my dad bought a double deck stereo and I started to make mixtapes. I bought an enormous amount of blank tapes (I used to use TDK and maxell, but my most favourite brand was Sony) and spent hours and hours in front of the double deck tape with a stopwatch in my hand.

My first mixtape was called “Migraine”, because I used to have migraines and often feel deeply frustrated. So I compiled songs with depressing lyrics and put it in one tape. The cover sleeve had a several layers.

The outer layer was some drawings and the mixtape title on a tracing paper. The inner layer was from my “heads” sketches, which I originally did ca 1996-1997, while the lyrics layer was a photocopy sheet of all the lyrics, handwritten with a pencil. I still remember that I copied that sheet at a small photocopy kiosk at Jalan Pasar Minggu, and unfortunately the kiosk does not exist anymore. The kiosk and the rest of small kiosks in the area had already been replaced by a complex of restaurants (including Sate Senayan). Oh well, nothing lasts forever..

And so were cassette tapes. They became obsolete when CD went into market in mid-1990s. I still bought tapes until mid noughties, and I felt very sad when, due to their impracticality, I also had to ‘convert’ to CD’s.

Most of my mixtapes were made for particular functions or to suit with current moods. “Migraine” was one to listen to when I felt frustrated or depressed – usually resulted in me drawing devilish images on my bedroom wall with a red crayon (some of them looked so frightening I had to repaint the wall at some point). “Lullaby” tapes, as the title implied, were made to help me to sleep, as I often had trouble sleeping.

“Dance Traxx” and “Alternative” tapes were genre-specific tapes, but they had quite special covers, especially Dance Traxx 2. The cover was made using aluminium foil, and the title and songlist were handwritten with a permanent marker and a drawing pen. It was all very shiny and glittering, hahaha.

Britmix was another special mixtape because I had to make sure that the genre on a part A-side was the same on the same part of the B-side. So when you’ve finished listening to Sex Pistols on one side and flip the tape, you will listen to The Clash, instead of other Brit artist from a different genre (like Suggs or Pet Shop Boys, for example).

This type of mixtape was usually made for travel companion, so I didn’t need to bring many tapes. I could just listen to any genre I wanted, packed in the 90-minute tape.

So here are my mixtapes displayed at the exhibition: two from the Migraine series, two Lullaby tapes, one called “Happy Happy Joy Joy” (filled with happy songs to start a nice morning), one dance compilation tape simply called “Dance Traxx”, and a multi-genre compilation of British music in “BritMix”.

My mixtapes were displayed alongside those of Iman Fattah (guitarist of Lain and Zeke and the Popo), Karina Soegarda (TV and radio presenter), and Marcel Thee (Sajama Cut).

Big thanks to Pasangan Baru!
More photos from the Cassette Store Day event can be found here.

ps: Inspired from this event, I recorded my digital mixtape “Winter in June” into a cassette tape. I listened to the tape one evening and it was very eerie..

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