San Franciscans exchange beats through an old favorite

 

Lisa Miller delights in her new mix CD, exchanged at the San Francisco Mixtape Society's one year anniversary on Sunday, Feb. 20th at the Make-Out Room. Gregory Moreno / staff photographer

Some would say the window to the soul is through one’s iTunes playlist, and the San Francisco Mixtape Society intends to tell all.

The San Francisco Mixtape Society, which encourages people to trade mixtapes or CDs, held their fifth event Sunday at the Make-Out Room in the Mission.  As a free event, the Mixtape Society posts a common theme or idea, and entrants create a mixtape or CD that will eventually be raffled to another person in exchange for a different mix.

“The randomness and the art of the mixing is something that died out,” said Sara Neale, an entrant in the competition. “It offers people a chance to meet other people and interact with an old way of living.”

Bret Salazar, another participant, said that he enjoyed all the free events that San Francisco has to offer and that this one in particular keeps him coming back for the surprise of the mixes.

“The exciting thing about it for me is that it’s like Christmas,” Salazar said. “You never know what it’s going to sound like or what’s going to be on it.”

Going along with the theme “Guilty Pleasures,” tunes such as “Hard to Explain” by the Strokes and “Later Operator” by the All Girl Summer Fun Band filled the room. Silver streamers rained from above and a disco ball hung from the ceiling, illuminating the floor with sporadic specks of light.

The event was not only the fifth event by the Mixtape Society, but it also served as an approximate one-year anniversary of its first event in San Francisco, themed “Towns vs. Cities,” in Jan. 2010.  John Verrochi, one of the founders of the group, said he hosts the events because producing mixtapes is a creative process he has always known.

“It’s nostalgia because I’ve always been into music and making mixtapes,” Verrochi said. “It’s really cool when you create something around a theme for somebody and you’ve really put some time and effort into everything from the order to the overall meaning.”

Verrochi moved to San Francisco in 2009, following in the steps of co-founder Annie Lin. They had held events like this in the past, but Verrochi said there was nothing like it in San Francisco so they started the Mixtape Society.

Verrochi said he remembers when he was 10 years old and would create actual mix tapes by holding a recorder up to the radio. With a chatting crowd and lively music, his passion seems to have found an outlet. Although the mixes came in every form from CD to flash drive, the Mixtape Society paid homage to the origin of the mix by offering a free drink to anyone who brought a creation on a cassette tape.

All the track lists of the mixes were posted on the wall where everyone attending the event could look them over and vote for audience favorite. About 68 track lists lined the wall, creating a sea of song titles and the artists who sung them.

The winner of audience’s choice was James Brown, a San Francisco local who apparently shared not only his name, but also musical taste with the famous singer.

“Just meeting all the people was so cool and learning what music everyone is listening to,” Brown said. “It’s like a mini-version of my record collection.”

Verrochi said that the mixes showed such depth in taste, and that they were a tribute to music that wasn’t necessarily new.

“There are so many different tastes of music,” Verrochi said. “You have to dig deep to win this thing and make a mix that’s going to delight and surprise someone, because it’s not just the coolest songs of the moment, it’s songs that you’ve never heard before and you really enjoy.”

Contestants had the choice of entering their mixes and track list early for participation in the judge’s choice award. The winner of the judge’s choice was San Francisco resident Scott Witthoft, who said that he loved the energy the enveloped this event.

“I love the enthusiasm in the room about music,” Witthoft said. “I love everyone’s ability to curate their own experience and share it with someone else.”

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