Todd Hudson of VAMP holds this Herbie Hancock cassette tape out for prospective buyers.

Oakland indie labels revisit old tapes on Cassette Store Day

on September 13, 2013

If you’re looking for a reason to dust off your classic cassette tapes, there’s a new holiday just for you.

International Cassette Store Day on Sept. 7, created by British organizers to honor the music medium, drew tape fans from Europe and the Americas, including Oakland-based vintage music shop VAMP and tape label Nice Ass Tapes who partnered to join in the celebration.

“A lot of people have been asking for cassettes,” said VAMP’s co-owner Tracy Parker. “It’s a fun way for people to express themselves and something easy and cheap,” she said.

“At the same time,” Parker added.  “I’m understanding that old cassettes are gaining value, and so then people are starting to become collectors and cassettes are taking on this allure. If you have a cassette player, why not play cassettes?”

Electronics firm Philips Company of the Netherlands first introduced the cassette tape for audio storage a half century ago in 1963. Although the music-listening public has largely abandoned cassette tapes, bands like The Flaming Lips, Suicidal Tendencies, Guided By Voices, and Xiu Xiu released new music via cassette for the holiday.

Smaller indie labels also released limited edition tapes, and Oakland cassette labels like Ratskin Records, Nice Ass Tapes and Manzanita Sound had tapes available for sale or trade at VAMP.

Julia Mazawa, co-owner of Nice Ass Tapes, said she’s loved the medium since the early ‘80s. “I like tapes because they’re very straightforward,” she said. “There’s rewind, fast-forward, record. It’s good for kids because it’s fairly literal.”

“It’s nice to have this whole day,” said Manzanita Sound co-owner Andrew Schneiderman, said of the event.

“I think that cassettes are more niche than vinyl. It’s a cheap way of getting music out there,” Schneiderman said.  “People can buy them cheaply and people can make them cheaply. Everyone can get their hands on interesting music that way.”

MOCO, the Oakland music, craft and performance collective, held an International Cassette Store Day cassette swap meet, asking people to bring original, mix tapes and compilations for exchange or sale.

Victor Vankmen, who co-manages MOCO, launched DIY cassette tape label My Shit Eats Tapes over a year ago because, “I had a bunch of tapes and wanted to put out something small.  So eventually I started asking more people to do more releases,” he said.

“It’s kind of easy to put out something on cassette because the media [are] so accessible as far as like buying tapes and dubbing them,” Vankmen added.  “I have three cassette duplicators and I got them for $20 or less.”

For more information on International Cassette Store Day, see www.cassettestoreday.com

 

Photo by Basil D Soufi
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