Back in – I think – November, Andrew Dubber
decided to start a new project. He wanted to twin towns – and make a mixtape, one side for each town.
Recently moved south, I asked for Edinburgh – twinned with Dunedin (a city in New Zealand, settled, I believe, by immigrants from Edinburgh who named their new home after the Scots
for their old one).
Andrew’s tape arrived in February; but in between, I had moved flats; and I hadn’t set up my cassette player for my hifi (nor, I should point out, my CD player or record player – just my ipod and the radio, for now).
So I haven’t played Andrew’s tape, which I felt very bad about: he had gone to the trouble of making it, and I hadn’t listened to it.
Until today. I’m visiting friends in the country, and, knowing they had a hifi with cassette player, I brought the tape along.
It is a great piece of music programming. There is an art to making a mixtape – a dying art (viz my lack of cassette player). You can create playlists to share on Spotify or last.fm
, but somehow that doesn’t feel the same. I used to make a lot of mixtapes – mostly but not exclusively for myself. Before we had CDs – yes, there was a time (and there’ll be kids growing up who will know neither cassettes nor CDs…) – cassettes were the most transportable form of music. We’d all make cassettes of party music, and fight over whose tape would provide the dance music (we didn’t have DJs back then, either!).
When I first got a car, I had a portable cassette player which would sit on the front seat. Road music got added to the mix.
And making a mixtape was part of the wooing process – a mating ritual, sharing something with a prospective mate.
Online playlists don’t quite do it.
Andrew’s Edinburgh/Dunedin tape is great. A lot of thought has gone into the programming – the order of the tracks. A range of genres from Tom Waits to the Fall via a range of Scottish bands and Scottish jazz on the Edinburgh side. I don’t quite get all the connections, but most I can see the link to Edinburgh. (The Blue Nile might not agree…)
The Dunedin side is full of artists unknown to me. I presume they are largely from New Zealand, though they don’t include any of the New Zealand bands I know (and – I’m feeling smug here – he missed a trick: Edinburgh drummer John Rae
now lives in New Zealand, apparently).
It is great fun: not random, but not in my control or experience. There is a story within the music and the choices. And I get to hear new things!
And it makes me think I really must get by cassette player out of the loft and explore all those old cassettes I made twenty five years ago…ETA
: Andrew sent me an email saying "I think yours was one of the easiest tapes for me to compile though - because of this:
The track listing for the Dunedin side was...
- Pink Frost - The Chills
- Husband House (?) - Sneaky Feelings
- Little Things - Trinity Roots
- Block of Wood - The Bats
- Mary Tyler Moore - Able Tasmans
- Touch Me - Superette
- Nova Scotia - The Stereo Bus
- My Electric Husband - Bachelorette
- Raukatauri - SJD
- I Will Not Let You Down - Don McGlashan (?)