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. Those many failed attempts to salvage the mix you recorded off of WVUM or Power 96, or that one your first girlfriend made you. There was a Cure song on there for sure.
Radio-Active Records remembers too. This year, they're participating, sort of, in the worldwide Cassette Store Day, but adding their own twist. Mikey Ramirez says that at first when he heard of it, "I thought it was a joke." Once he realized it was the 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 with Black Friday right around the corner. "Then I thought, we haven't had a major event since RSD, we're about to relaunch Splatter-Rama! 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 on Cassette It Together day 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 DMC, Special Ed, etc. Plus, cassettes have been coming up lately, although in a niche manner versus a main tangible." 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.
If you can't wait that long for some Radio-Active action, Ramirez is helming up the Friday nights at Miami bar Gramps. This week, there'll be a DJ set by Salem's John the Baptiste -- his first time back since Art Basel -- and Millionyoung's side project Chevere. "So we'll have two seperate vibes going on: John and Chevere will take over the back room at Gramps, definitely a night of mid-tempo electronic music and witch house/trap." Ramirez explains, "Up in front, it's myself and Guest Kent Lawlor from the South Florida Soul Club. Nice mixture of disco, soul, funk, New Wave and hip-hop." We asked if there will be dancing, he said, "absolutely." And should people wear black? "People should always wear black."
When questioned on the appropriate attire for Cassette It Together, Smallish suggested something similar: "We should all just come dressed up as Mikey Ramirez." So, black basically, for both.
Cassette It Together with Miguel Morte Valentine, Shangri La, Lil Daggers, and the Goddamn' Hustle. 3 to 9 p.m., September 7, at Radio-Active Records, 845 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Jolt Radio will be streaming live, and there'll be raffles, giveaways, a $1 tape bin, and food by No Place Like Vegan and Frankie Dogs. Visit Facebook.
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