news & stories

news & stories

Eighties mixtape


Not a post about photography or filmmaking this time, but one about a very early creative collaboration, one from 1989. Rob and I have been best friends since we were ten years old. We met in primary school in Rotterdam, Holland in 1980 and when we were fifteen we started producing mix tapes and DJing at school parties and self-initiated dance nights.

Back then Holland had three main radio stations, of which Radio 3 was the station for pop music and the most listened to. We’d been listening to the Soul Show with DJ Ferry Maat for years and when Martijn Krabbé took over, renaming the show to Dance Tracks in the process, one of the many things that stayed was the mix competition (Bond van Doorstarters). Everybody sat ready with their tape decks to record these 10-15 minute mega mixes; it was our dream to have our mix selected for that slot one day.

One summer holiday in 1989 we got to work. We had quite a few bits which we knew would work as a result of our mix tapes and live mixing sessions, but never before had we attempted to squeeze over a hundred tracks into 15 minutes, let alone for national radio. And this was the late eighties, so no computers with advanced software tools. There were only very basic samplers and drum machines, and saying that, we only managed to get our hands on a Casio S50 and a Roland R8 a year later!

What we worked with was a pair of Technics SL1200s, a tape deck, a four-channel mixer, a customised two-track Revox B77 reel-to-reel tape recorder and a plastic bottle. Loops were literally reams of tape that ran from the B77 and over the plastic bottle, sometimes 2 meters away from the reel. Cuts were made with a razor blade and sellotape!

With several weeks of preparation and two full weeks of blood, sweat and tears in production (sometimes literally), we had our mix. It was sent off to Radio 3 and the next day, we got the call. The coming Thursday we were in the studio with Martijn Krabbé and our tape got aired. We were two very chuffed 18-year olds!

Have a listen to it below. But a warning first though. Although it starts off quite well, it does descend into some pretty serious cheese later on. Aside from Public Enemy, Young MC and Erik B and Rakim, other popular acts at the time included Bobby Brown, Paula Abdul, Pebbles, Babyface and dare I say it, New Kids On The Block. Hey, you were warned and you can't knock the eighties!