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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Mixtape Society throws back to the ’90s

Think back to the good ol’ days when your music player didn’t come in various candy-colored shades, but in black and gray. Or when your songs weren’t listed alphabetically by artists’ last names but serendipitously started playing, and when your music didn’t have elaborate cover artwork but had to be labeled on a thin, white strip of tape with a Sharpie. The UC Davis Mixtape Society (UCDMS) realized many of us might be nostalgic for this former, arguably less convenient, age when sheer music, not medium, was of peak importance.

UCDMS is a new student club that began in Fall Quarter for members to exchange mix CDs. Though the first few meetings may be bumpy, they promise that just like a fine wine, UCDMS will age well with time.

The group meets monthly in Wellman 202, a large, sterile, white lecture hall that looks more suitable for an MCAT review session than a small, motley crew of the mashup-obsessed and hip-hop crazed. Every get-together has a theme — Halloween’s “Give You Goose Bumps,” Valentine’s Day’s “Under the Covers,” April’s “Shaken not Stirred” — and if you bring a CD mix, you are guaranteed to leave with someone else’s.

While they don’t actually trade cassette tapes, as their club’s name suggests, members do continue the tradition of listing the CDs’ songs on makeshift cases. UCDMS officer Sowmya Murali, a junior economics major, has gone so far as to wrap her CD in class notes and Saran Wrap.

To obtain one of these artfully crafted mixes, you leave the decision to luck. Every member who brings a CD chooses a card from a deck, which contains pairs of matching suits. Those with matching suits swap CDs.

“[This method] introduces others to varied tastes. Your eyes can open, and by chance, you will not only connect with your exchange partner, but also to surprisingly different kinds of music,” said UCDMS founder Evonne Soon, a junior environmental sciences major.

The idea to start a Mixtape Society at UC Davis wasn’t entirely a unique one. Soon got the concept from attending a San Francisco Mixtape Society meeting. The turnout, although low, brought together a bunch of randoms, Bay Area kids who crawled to 22nd Street with open ears and bootlegs in tow.

Almost immediately, she knew her friends would die for something similar back on campus. After asking permission to use the name “Mixtape Society,” she rang up her four closest high school friends at UC Davis.

Officers Murali, junior neurobiology major Adrianna Sung, junior microbiology major Jennifer Dijaili and senior chemical engineering major Joel Luo worked to create the club’s vision: to share music and get to know other peers passionate about music, they said.

From sweatpants to chunky sweaters to framed glasses, the group’s participants are as distinct as their musical tastes. At once, techno/electro house music is bumping on a Mac in one corner of the room, while the surround-sound speakers spit Proof||Theory, the hip-hop duo of UCDMS member Gregory Tam (stage name Classified Flow) and his UC Berkeley friend Mustafa Eisa (stage name Eis).

“To have a proof, you need to have a theory and me and Eis are trying to prove ourselves to everyone else out there theorizing,” said Tam, a sophomore exercise biology major.

Some may be budding musicians, others dubstep aficionados. However musically attuned you are, UCDMS members said they welcome all musical tastes. Sung admitted that she didn’t listen to all the songs on the CD a fellow club member gave her last month.

“[But] I liked certain songs I never would have encountered otherwise,”  Sung said.

It’s this newfound, light-illuminating sense that the club hopes to impart on all those who attend now and in the future.

“A club,” Soon said while fiddling with her business card, “should always be looking outwardly, towards someone who can eventually carry the torch.”

UCDMS plans to start holding social events for the larger community, potentially extending its musical arms to Entertainment Council concerts or hosting artists of its own choosing. However they choose to grow, monthly meetings, listed on the UCD Mixtape Society Facebook group, will always be running amok at 6 p.m. in Wellman 202.

As everyone exits the room at the request of an MCAT tutor, the voice of Lily Allen slowly fades to the close of a screen where laptop stickers of a girl-boy bathroom sign, a yard sale and an old man remind us that the best concoctions are made from a mix of eccentrically linked, accidentally assembled ingredients.

CHELSEA MEHRA can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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