• Thursday Tip-Off: Making a Mixtape


    Our Thursday Tip-Off series is a weekly set of tips, suggestions, and tricks for making you a better-informed person. You're welcome.

    If you're under the age of 20, the era of cassette tapes may have passed you by completely. If you're sad you missed out, dry those tears, because cassettes are back and better than ever. (Or they're at least exactly the same as they used to be... but you get the point.) If you've never spent 3-5 hours sitting by the radio, waiting for that one Hanson song to come on so you could add it to your mixtape, get pumped: you can now relive that experience, in the year 2015. (Even Hanson is a little bit relevant again, proving time is a flat circle.) If the nostalgia of mixtapes is tugging at your heartstrings but you've never made one before, here's how to make your very own, so you, too, can record an angsty love song about cheerleading and have your crush play it in their boombox.



    1. So you want to make a mixtape. Great! First, get yourself a blank tape. Then, get yourself either a boombox cassette player (one that has radio/cassette/CD), or just a simple tape recorder. If you go with a standard tape recorder, you'll need a radio or CD player to hook it up to so you have something to record from. (You have to work for your mixtape.)

    2. Once you've got your gear, it's easy to record. If you're going to record off CDs, it's simply a matter of queuing up the songs you're interested in and recording to the cassette. Make sure to time it properly, though, because iTunes won't be there to tell you if you've gone over your recording limit. To get a clean recording, hit the record button before hitting the play button on your CD to ensure that you get the full song in there. The nice part about mixtapes? If you screw up or change your mind, you can rewind and try again.



    3. If you're recording off the radio, make sure to hit that record button as soon as the song you're into comes on (and make sure not to get the radio DJ in there, too). While mixtapes are definitely going to be more work than a standard CD mix, think of your 1992 ancestors - this is what they did when they wanted to make a mix, and they're better for it.

    4. When it comes to picking what songs you'd like to include, the fun thing about the mixtape that sets it apart from CDs is that it's harder to skip from song to song, so most of the time you end up listening to the mix in full. This makes it more of a complete story than a CD. If you've ever read High Fidelity or Love Is A Mixtape, then you know that the mixtape narrative is an important one, and can be more exciting to build out than a CD mix.



    Above: Action Bronson's Mr. Wonderful cassette and Halsey's Badlands cassette

    5. Once you've crafted the perfect mix, pop on one of those little label stickers, doodle a few hearts on there, and present to your crush. (Or you know... whoever. Just hope they have a tape player lying around.)

    If you're interested in more cassette tunes that aren't on a mixtape, Burger Records has been at the forefront of cassette production, and feature a ton of cool bands on cassette if you're looking to expand your collection. There's also this great countdown of 2014 cassettes from FACT Mag, proving that there's a whole underground cassette world out there. Cassette Store Day is also this Saturday (!), which means it's a great time to get out there and learn more about the format. Let those '90s vibes wash over you, man.




    Pick up your free copy of UO's Volume 11 Mixtape in all US store on Cassette Store Day, October 17
    Shop Cassettes