I miss making mixtapes
Today is a special day. It is a day that hasn't happened for me in the past 17 years. I am releasing a new mixtape. Yeah an actual cassette tape. So how did this happen and why did this happen?
Nostalgia is a strange thing. It is very powerful. A couple of years ago a friend named Jason who DJ's by the name Simfonik met up with me to collect some of my mixtapes for a online archive he was doing. I gave him some of the copies of mixtapes I still had including the "Planetary Rave Series" and the "California Project" (both are pretty rare). I really hadn't thought about mixtapes in a while. I have converted some to mp3 and put them on my Soundcloud but that was about it. I thought (along with most of civilization) that the cassette tape was a dead media, especially in the days of mp3's, iTunes and streaming. But that meeting did remind me why I loved mixtapes.
I know I come out with a ton of mixes still. I constantly record myself when at gigs and I do random studio mixes too. But there is something about creating a mixtape that is so different. When I first produced professional looking mixtapes was in 1992. Before that my self and my friend Pete Lopez (aka Dr. Jeckyll) who I DJed in High School with would just make copies on store bought cassettes. After Ron D. Core and DJ Dan came out with "Dx2", it lit a fire under me. It was the first professional looking mix tape that I remember seeing. There were Milky Way tapes but those just had printed stickers on the tapes. "Dx2" had printing on the actual tape. I looked legitimate. Around this time my buddy Pete started working for a company called V-Corp in Covina. They were a tape and CD Duplicator and they mainly did Mexican and Filipino music. I reached out to them to produce my tape with The Kandyman called "Don't Feed The DJ's" that we put out in May of 1992. It was a clear tape with printing and a J-Card made from Astrobright card stock from Kinkos. After that, I kept looking for new ways to make unique mix tapes. Different color cassettes. Unique packaging. Double Packs. Box sets. I just wanted each one to be a statement of work and not just a promotional item for me as a DJ.
The first time I really felt I had something special was "Cybersex" which I released on October of 1993. It had a full color J-Card (color copier) and a smoked tinted cassette. That year was very much a transitional year of techno music. You had things going into different directions. Trance was starting to form and the breakbeat techno I was spinning was starting to mutate into drum n’ bass. At the time I was really getting to the new sounds that Warp Records was doing with their series which includes artists as Black Dog Productions, Aphex Twin, B-12 and Autechre to name a few. At the same time R&S was doing a side label called Apollo that was also moving more into what today would be called IDM. I started getting into these sounds and decide to create a tape with these sounds. What was unique about this was this wasn't really the sound I was DJing out. It was something I really enjoyed but I wouldn't really play this style at a rave. So this opened the door to me about allowing the mixtape to actually be something more creative. To play with genres and styles. I didn't have to worry about a dance floor so I felt I had more creative freedom with the mixtape. I could create mixes that didn't have to be just about the dancefloor. So I did downtempo mixes, ambient mixes, super hard acid mixes, IDM mixes, I would mix gothic, 80's, spoken word, whatever I wanted. I loved just trying new things. In 1993 I also started Biohazard Productions which on top of other things was a Mix Tape label. We released mixes from Tony Gamboa, Dieselboy, Ganesh, DJ Flite, Terminus, Paulina Taylor, just to name a few.
Around 1994 I met Ken who was selling mixtapes at his booth at raves across LA. I gave him a few to sell and we sparked a friendship and working relationship that would last to this day. At first he was just selling tapes that I produced. In 1997 he decided to create his own label and start producing and releasing mixtapes under Pure Acid. The first tape I released with him was called "Digital". Together we put out many mixtapes including some faves of mine like "Cosmic Journey", "Morning Majik", "The Force" and "Alien Voyage". We continued putting out mixtapes together until about 2001, when it seemed that the format was dying due to putting mixes online and mp3s. I put out mixes in this way to but it wasn't as fun for me. I tried different things like trying software like Abelton and Sony Acid. I did some creative things with it but it wasn't like producing a mix tape.
3 years ago at Nocturnal 2015, Insomniac posted a old school stage and since it was the 20th anniversary it sparked up a lot of nostalgia. Insomniac, at that time, interviewed Ken about the mixtape culture and he shared some of his favorite mixtapes over the years. Something about that article and the nostalgia got things sparked up for Ken and I. Whenever I saw him I told him he should get something going again. It was a fun idea but did it make sense. Everything was about downloads and streaming now. Then in the end of 2015 and early 2016 I heavily got back into collecting vinyl records again (as a lot of people did). It seemed that this dead format was now alive and doing quite well. Around 2017 I noticed that labels were actually coming out with cassettes again. My friend Zack Hill created a new mix tape around 2016 and that totally intrigued me. So early in 2018, I decided why the fuck not. I had so many ideas floating in my head. So I reached out to Ken and asked if he would like to partner on this venture with me.
I didn't just want to put out a mixtape of what I was DJing out these days. There are plenty of live mixes that I post that have the sound of what I play out live. I wanted to do something unexpected. I did two Psy Trance cassettes in 97-98 that were supposed to be a part of a trilogy. Those two tapes were "Alien Voyage" and "Alien Abduction". I never had the opportunity to finish it up so I threw the idea to Ken about doing the last tape of that trilogy. I decided on "Alien Arrival" and picked up new Psy trance music to make this mix with. On top of just mixing I added samples and some synth lines from the Pioneer DJ AS-1 into the mix as well. I ended up recording 3 45 minute sets. 2 of them we included on the actual physical cassette and made the 3rd side available as a download with the purchase of the cassette. Ken even made a deluxe version with alien shaped USB stick and poster. So today is the day it is finally out. We started this in March and had a few hiccups throw at us but here we are. I really wanted this to be the first of a few mix tapes. I have ideas about "Cybersex 25" (25 years from the original mix) as well as doing "The Force 2" to coincide with the end of the new Star Wars Trilogy. These physical releases will be very limited in quantity so please, pick one up. Support this venture. Ken and I had a great time getting this project off the ground and we would both love to keep doing this but it will be up to you and your support if we continue.
Pick up the new "Alien Arrival" mixtape by clicking here.