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The Unlikely Return of the Cassette Tape

The Unlikely Return of the Cassette Tape

As an art student in the late 90’s I experimented with different formats on which to document and create my ‘art’. 

I loved the nostalgia of using polaroid camera,s and had looked back fondly to my childhood days in the 80’s using them.

The instantaneous fun of taking a picture, the obligatory shake of course (turns out entirely useless) and a few moments later the image appearing right in front of your eyes. 

But the cassette tape? Is there really a need for a return of this obsolete format? There’s no real value to its quality.  Yes sure, it is nostalgia, and we love that all day, but the audio quality isn’t like that of say vinyl – where the sound is superior to digital and creates textures and layers and warmth. And I personally will always promote this vinyl resurgence, as a DJ and lover of great sound, but Cassettes on the rise again? This is more about culture and psychology, than sound.

Yes, there is warmth

My best memories of cassettes are recording the charts every Sunday.  This is what you HAD to do if you wanted to hear the latest tracks on demand. I would have to hover and press stop as the tune finished then wait patiently throughout the ‘talky’ bit and get ready to hit record again as the next song played. Inevitably missing my cue, when I got distracted by the long wait. The result was a stop/start clanky mix of half songs.  An absolute ball ache. But looking back, would I change that? Nope, Why? Cos Nostalgia.

It’s what you had to do if you loved music. 

Portability is the issue and we got over the need for that with the MP3

Yet the cassette is coming back. In the U.K., sales were up 112% year on year in the first half of 2019. In fact, in reality, this only means 36,000 cassettes were actually sold. But sales in the U.S. are rising too.

As we grew older, the cassette was the messenger of love, also know as the ‘mix tape’.  This is what you received from the guy at college who wanted you to be their girlfriend, or what you would record to give to the ones you yourself were crushing on.

All I can say is, no, we really don’t need the cassette to come back, there is no need for it per se, but hey, it is countercultural thing to do. And I will always fully back the counter culture thing to do. Counter culture is what young people are best at. So go live your best life, rock that tape, grab your Walkman, do you boo. 

Lua Jones
Writer | Empowerer| Editor | Speaker | Founder @ Dear Teenage Me
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