Twelve years ago, the first Record Store Day was held, bringing together music fans, collectors, labels, bands, and audiophiles all over the United States, and has since expanded with limited international participation.
Seven years ago, a group of labels from the UK brought us International Cassette Store Day, focusing more on the format than the shops themselves. Independent labels latched onto the idea; the vaporwave scene an obvious participant as the culture grew.
This year, the UK label My Pet Flamingo (an early adopter of regularly releasing minidiscs) has brought together an impressive roster of artists and labels for the first-ever International Minidisc Day. March 7th, 2020, will mark the first celebration of the beloved format, which is fast becoming a favorite among collectors and labels alike.
Enzo Van Baelen, co-founder of My Pet Flamingo and TimeSlave Recordings, and the impetus behind MiniDisc Day, said, “Physical releases beat digital—that’s not even up for debate—and I’ve always had a strong connection with minidiscs, dating back to recording my DJ sets when I was into drum & bass and hardcore music in the ‘90s. Sadly, they were killed off before they deserved to be by mp3s and the iPod. It feels like a throwback, a quaint memory perhaps. But my involvement in the vaporwave scene brought back memories. They were so futuristic at the time. I think it was Techmoan’s video that gave me the idea… why not have a special day like tapes and records do? I don’t think there’s a more appropriate format for vaporwave, but with so many genres looking back to the past it seems like there’s a lot of love for minidiscs again across the board.”
As the vaporwave scene grew, its thirst for nostalgic/forgotten formats naturally gravitated toward Sony’s doomed physical medium, with albums such as Subaeris’ Dreams Love Chaos City, Miraicult’s ００ 色と概念, and US Golf 95’s self-titled release among the first albums to reach vaporfans on minidisc. Jump ahead to today, and a Discogs search will net you over eighty vaporwave minidisc releases!
Fish Prints’ head Petridisch has also long been a fan of the format. “I was taken by how they were “little CDs” in these very curious boxes that seemed indestructible compared to the standard CDs and Walkmen that ruled the school around that time. I later found out that you could ~excuse me~ R E C O R D on them (!!!) but they remained rather pricey. Once the CD-R came about in 1996 or so, minidiscs seemed to fizzle out quickly with the masses, but stuck around at radio stations and as a recording format for many musicians. I used the format in my college DJ years and had a few decks here and there, but not much was happening with the format otherwise.”
Purchasing their friend キラヨシ’s album Reincarnated Resurrection (back in 2018 on Section 9 Tapes - Ed.) solidified their commitment to MDs. “I loved the sound and yes the FEEL of playing キラヨシ's MD, and remembered that weirdly wonderfully different sound that MD has, presumably due to the proprietary ATRAC compression. I saw that my player was ALSO a recorder, so I learned through a lot of trial and error how to burn MDs using my Windows 10 laptop. Of course, then I thought, "if my friend can do it..." so I started releasing hand-stickered, hand-dubbed MiniDiscs on my label, Fish Prints. It quickly became the focus format.”
“It’s turned out to be bigger than I’d have expected, so many labels are involved,” Enzo told us. And he’s right! There are over fifty releases (across over thirty labels) already scheduled for International Minidisc Day, with something for everyone. Aside from My Pet Flamingo and Timeslave Recordings, labels such as Asura Revolver, Coraspect, Fish Prints, Gulf Audio Company, Hiraeth Records, Houdini Mansions, Needlejuice and Palm ‘84 all have multiple releases planned, with others such as Adeptus Minor, Aloe City, Pacific Plaza and Underwater Computing releasing as well. My Pet Flamingo will have the Saint Pepsi classic Hit Vibes for sale (!!) and we even hear that R∞ might have a minidisc-only release out there... This isn’t a complete list, however–we encourage you to check out the full official list here, as you might have to make some tough choices before your favorites sell out!
Artists and labels alike are equally excited to participate.
Alyx of Pacific Plaza shared, “Strawberry Station approached us at the perfect time—I had been doing research into different places to get them made, what print options were available, etc. After getting minidiscs from MPF for Flamingo Funk 2, I was determined to make it happen ‘cos they are SO DANG CUTE! And we love cute formats at PPR! It was a great opportunity to dip our toes into a new format (the older stepbrother to our 3” mini CDs) with an amazing producer for this special day.”
Four classic 猫 シ Corp. releases will be available on Minidisc Day. “At first I was a bit hesitant towards the format—but then I saw what a fun little thing it was and tried it out. It reminds me of old sci-fi movies, where they load disks into a computer system. So I guess the format is pretty vapor haha!” Corp told us.
Petridisch explains the rationale behind Fish Prints’ releases. “I chose the specific releases based on the sort of 'newfound' fame MD has gained, things that I feel would benefit from an audience of MiniDisc aficionados! Quarks was always something I wanted to reissue. The conversations and timing were right, and since a MD can hold up to 80 minutes, I decided to expand the idea of a basic reissue, and ended up adding everything possibly related to the debut album that I could! Twin Towers is a friend of mine who I met on Twitter (@prisoncitynoise). They're always putting out music under a few aliases, and I saw them post Tennis Academy on a Hill in late December. Taken with the cover, I pressed play and was completely blown away by what I heard - sort of angular, yet completely riffy HEAVY ROCK. I offered them a release of it almost immediately, and again timing was everything. The Barbara Morgenstern remix album was an idea that had been waiting in the wings for nearly a year (!!!) and again TIMING! Her German label Staatsakt said they were ready for me around January! It was initially supposed to be just a Petridisch track-by-track remix album, but the 80 minute runtime of a MD allowed me to add friends’ interpretations as a sort of second work.
Don’t have a minidisc player yet? Your best bet on finding a minidisc player today is eBay. If you wanted to read up on the history of the minidisc itself, they’ve done a fine job of that at minidisc.org. There are also a couple of Reddit communities (r/minidisc and r/VaporwaveMiniDiscs) that you could join to watch for new releases and keep the discussion going until next year’s event! As for the future of the format itself, Enzo remains hopeful, “If there’s any justice Sony will start producing more blanks and next year will be even bigger!”