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The art of a mixtape.

My first car was a dark blue 1973 Volkswagen Bug.  It did not have a radio, but it did have a boombox which was attached unsteadily to the glovebox with a bungee cord.  Below that glovebox, stashed on the floorboard sliding with every turn was a shoebox full of cassettes.  The box was filled with something for every mood and was really quite the collection for a girl all of 19.   It was filled with everything from a bit of rockabilly and 90’s rock to the ultimate girl sing alongs, like Cyndi Lauper.  It held standard gas station finds that were picked up on road trips and late night drives.  There was the more searched out tapes like REDD KROSS or local bands seen at house parties and coffee shops.  You would even find a stolen Misfits tape that Matt may still be looking for.  There they were, all swimming around together.  No matter how many tapes I bought or stole, my favorites were always the homemade mixes.  My car was full of them.  Some were from old boyfriends, and some I made myself but they were all fabulous.

I always loved receiving them and still do, even if they come in CD form these days.  It is a great way to find some new music and maybe learn a little about the person who has given it to you.  Handcrafted, and full of personality, the mix-tape is an art.

The perfect mix needs to start with a great opener that will set the tone for the rest of the tape.  While the first song should be good, you don’t want it to be your best.  The middle is the perfect blend of songs that run smoothly from start to finish. They should all feel like they are in the same family.  This of course does not mean that you can not put Phanogram and Snoop Dog on the same tape, it only means that you need to find songs in between those two that will lead one to the other.  Then there is the title.  My tapes usually consisted of some masking tape and a title that was too long, written in sharpie.  It was something along the lines of,  For Rainy Days and Art Making, or Cheesy But True, These Make Me Think of You.  Slap a little artwork on the case and BLAMMO!  You are set.

The mixtape shaped my teenage years and continues to do so today.  I am constantly on the search for something new and happily swap and share with friends on a regular basis.  Finding a new song is similar to building a new memory.  It is impossible to hear a song and not think of the person who introduced it to you.  And if you like that song, it becomes a lifetime of thinking of one person.  Music really is magical.

Feeling nostalgic?  If all this talk of boomboxes and sharpie titles is making you feel a little fuzzy inside you are in luck.  Phono Select Records is holding The Happy Hour Mixtape Swap this Saturday.  Bring a tape and you’ll get to take a tape home with you.  Music of all genres is welcome.  There will be some snacks, DJ’s and used music will be 15% off.  If you are thinking this sounds like a good idea that is because it is. 

Phono Select is located at 2312 K street.  Swap starts at 6:00.  See you there, with my tape (or CD) in hand!

Words by Melissa Uroff

Poster Stolen from Phono Select Records

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