Ah, the blank cassette. Was there ever a gift that fed into our ego’s more than the creation of a romantic mixtape? These small ruptures of our youth were a capsule into a specific moment of our young life. Whether you were taking your friends on a road trip after passing your driving test or inviting a girl into your bedroom for the first time, there was a mixtape for every romanticised moment.
The cassette was like a gift from the Gods to young music fans. Much to the dismay of corporate music industries who declared home taping was killing music. But, for teenagers of the eighties and nineties, a music genre defined your personality, your Walkman was a fashion accessory, and a mixtape was your golden ticket to a relationship.
Romantic Mixtape Vs Spotify Playlist
There was an art to curating a mixtape. You only had 90-minutes to spell out your thoughts, feelings, and exquisite taste in post-grunge rock. Nowadays, Spotify playlists have nothing on producing a researched, home-recorded and lovingly decorated cassette tape. Mixtapes were tender and well-thought. Every song and design detail had a purpose.
Of course, these days we take for granted how easy it is to stream every song we love. Now, you can tweak a playlist at any moment, an old song replaced with the next week’s hottest record. Your crush can even get in on the action with the collab option on Spotify. Not at all like back in the nineties when analogue technology confined you to only using songs you owned (and if you didn’t own them, a sly bit of radio recording was required).
But hear me out, the amateur recording and sticking together of songs made the mixtape so heartachingly authentic. The creator placed each track in a specific order, and even recording the songs took a skilled hand to play, pause and switch cassettes. Altogether, the result was an orchestrated melody of love.
Melody of Love
To be gifted with said romantic mixtape was a privilege and a private affair. Naturally, the giftee was expected to listen with headphones, and once on, it was just you, them and the music.
The cassette begins with white noise, a clouded sound that fills the listener’s ears with a tickling tension as they await the first song. The recognisable track breaths through the foggy white clouds of tape, a likeable tune chosen to tease and entice the beholder. Its deliberate softness arouses their attention and attunes them to other sounds in the recording.
If your crush listened carefully, they could hear the warped cracks around particular lyrics where the cassette has been overplayed like a dog-eared love note. The absence of noise is even more intimate than imagined. As the giftee, I would lie on my bed listening to the creaks of their floorboard, squeaks of their chair and clicking of a new record playing. It was easy to imagine myself sitting in their room watching them create the mixtape.
After turning sides, the curator expects the listener to become passive and complacent to the sounds dancing around their ears. So, the cassette crackles and fizzes with a new tempo rising within the ambient sounds of the bedroom, rising to flutter the heart of the beholder. Finally, the climax of electronic synth and repetitive lyrics ends the cassette with a clear message of love.
Click—time to rewind.
The true success of a romantic mixtape
It sounds euphoric, right? That your crush is lying on their bed, listening to a selection of tracks chosen by you.
After finishing the romantic mixtape, you’d expect your crush to pick up their house phone (because it’s the nineties) and call you. You’d usher your mum away from the phone whilst they twiddle their phone’s cord and gush about everything they love about you. Oh, how you wait for them to ask where you found that song by The Cure.
Because here’s the problem with mixtapes – they were never really created for your crush. No, the mixtape is the pride and joy of your own loves. A flashy collection of songs that sing to your heart and speak to your soul.
Yet, if you did find a person who enjoyed listening to your pretentious list of songs on repeat. Then, that person is really special.
If you have a mixtape back from the nineties, why not bring it back to life this Valentine’s Day with Digital Converters’ cassette to digital service?