International Cassette Store Day at Radio-Active Records
You know intimately what a cassette is. You remember the delicate surgery of unraveling the magnetic tape from your brown, boxy, Fisher Price player. You can taste those tears you shed when the procedure didn't go so well. There were many failed attempts to salvage the mix you recorded off of WVUM or Power 96 or that mixtape your first girlfriend made you. There was a Cure song on there for sure.
Radio-Active Records remembers too. It's participating, sort of, in the inaugural International Cassette Store Day on Saturday, which is being held in honor of this antiquated audio format, but adding its own twist. Mikey Ramirez says that at first when he heard of it, "I thought it was a joke." Once he realized it was a real thing, he still held back. "I had reservations in being involved, mainly because I felt that it diminished the integrity of what Record Store Day has to offer." He didn't want to flood the market with this September event when Black Friday is right around the corner. "Then I thought, we haven't had a major event since RSD [April 20, 2012], we're about to relaunch Splatter-Rama [the gory-film series he hosts] and get involved with the iii Points Music Fest [in Wynwood], and I decided to give it a go but under a different moniker."
In Fort Lauderdale, the day is cleverly called Cassette It Together.
Centered around "cassette culture," the event is being organized by Radio-Active's lovely Nat Smallish. "I think one of the special parts of participating in this event," she says, "is that it's the very first one; therefore, no one has certain 'expectations' or 'requirements.' It's open-ended for creativeness and participation." They'll be having an all-day party with local musical acts and their own compilation mixtape featuring Florida bands. "That's the main focus on what we are doing differently than most record stores, at least from what I've heard," she explains. And they've had tons of bands submit their music for the mixtape.
"It's been an honor that everyone has been so positive and excited to make it happen," Smallish says. "We just want everyone to come and celebrate a day of music. Cassettes have been around forever, and they definitely should be celebrated, but what we are all gathering to celebrate really is music. We are a music incubator and will continue to participate in international, national, and local events to keep us going strong and keep our customers happy." Bands performing at Cassette It Together include Miguel Morte Valentine from New Jersey with some live VHS action, Miami's Shangri La and Lil Daggers, and Fort Lauderdale's the Goddamn' Hustle.
The nostalgia element is huge with cassettes, though, and Smallish admits she owns quite a few. A stack she grabbed when we were chatting included the Pixies, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Kinks, Nirvana's Nevermind, Tune Yards, King Tuff, Kanine Records mixtape, and the Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed.
Ramirez also appreciates the cassette. "I used to make mixtapes as a kid all the time. I remember going to the Swap Shop and buying bootleg Profile Records cassettes: the latest Run D.M.C., Special Ed, etc. Plus, cassettes have been coming up lately, although in a niche manner." People like to hold on to something, and though you can clutch your computer filled with all the music in the world, sometimes it's just nice to press play on a clunky old tape deck.
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