I’ve been a fan of the cassette for as long as I can remember. My mum gave me my first tapes when I was little; a copy of ABBA’s ‘Greatest Hits’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ which didn’t leave my ears for the entire summer. Since then, even as my Walkman changed to a Discman, changed to an iPod, cassette tapes have stayed a large part of my music collection. In 2011 I started Kissability, the label on which I’ve released tapes for the likes of DZ Deathrays, Splashh, and Thumpers.
The inaugural Cassette Store Day will take place on September 7. It began with an email from Steve Rose who runs the Sexbeat label (Fear of Men, Eagulls). “I had an idea this weekend… Why not International Cassette Store Day?”
Steve emailed Matt Flag from Suplex Cassettes (Spectrals, Fair Ohs), and the three of us set about contacting a few of our friends who run tape labels in the UK and US. And then it snowballed. Releases now include At The Drive In’s ‘Relationship of Command’, Haim’s ‘Forever’ EP, and Deerhunter’s ‘Monomania’.
In London, we will run an afternoon at Rough Trade East with a couple of instore performances, and there will also be events at Burger Records in LA, Big Love in Tokyo, and Mirror Universe, Godmode, and Gimme Tinnitus blog are doing a cassette fair and show at Silent Barn in Brooklyn.
Unlike Record Store Day, this is less about supporting shops and more about celebrating the cassette format that has been making a comeback for a while. I can imagine that outside my indie circle this announcement is being greeted with rolls of eyes and a sigh of, “Fucking hipsters.” But it’s not all nostalgic cool. Tapes make sense in not only our current economic climate, but in our musical one too.
Music today moves faster than ever before. We are swamped hourly with new acts, new tracks, and endless free downloads. It becomes addictive, with more and more bands wanting to release their music, and most importantly, more fans than ever wanting to become a part of this world and start a label. However, you can’t sell mp3s from the merch table (and it isn’t the most romantic way of introducing someone to a great band). Plus cassettes are cheap to make and you don’t have to commit to large quantities, unlike vinyl.
I’ll leave Matt from Suplex to have the final say:
Tapes have been the most constant musical format in my life. As a kid it enabled me to cheaply buy new releases but more importantly, it allowed my friendship group to grow our music tastes by swapping blank tapes filled with gems and even our own home-recorded forays into music. Today it is the most affordable showcase for a band that is not ready to spend £1000 to drop 500 7″s into the world, so I can run a label that takes chances and puts out as many releases as I want to due to the cheapness and convenience of the format. Plus they look rad!