A Night of Cassettes and Community: ‘Midnight Gallery’ Release Party at the Laundromat
Cassettes may seem like a thing of the past, but for five Skidmore students, they’re anything but outdated. On October 11th, Finley Tevlin ’19, Wiley Hopkins ’19, Adam Simon ’19 and Max Hammel ’19 organized an album release party to debut fellow Skidmore senior Joey Freeman’s original music, entitled “Songs for Friends.” Freeman’s songs were put together on a cassette tape and sold for $5 at the Laundromat, the basement cellar of a house on nearby Clinton Street, creating a vibe unlike any other.
The group of five met their freshman year of college, bonding over many common interests, most notably their love of music. From then on, the group knew they wanted to do something exciting for the Skidmore community in their senior year. They all had a collective vision of creating a cassette label, wanting to leave college “with a metaphorical bang,” as Hopkins described it. With the help of Katie Salk ‘19, who did the album artwork, Emma Fritschel ‘19, who made limited edition sleeves to hold the tapes, Evelyn Wang ‘19, who did the graphics, and other close friends who were eager to help, they all made a four-year dream become a reality. Thus, the cassette label “Midnight Gallery” was created.
The cassette features “Songs for Friends,” made by Freeman, who compared producing these songs to “writing in my journal and then getting to show it to people.” He explained that his decision to include his original music, instead of songs from other artists, was largely based on wanting to tell people what he really thought and to not associate himself with songs that he didn’t agree with.
The group has attended shows at the Laundromat since their freshman year, which, according to Simon, “was really inspiring, because they were really good at always opening and having people.” This close-knit vibe prompted the group to want to do something similar—an event that could bring people together at the underground cellar and prove memorable for years to come.
While other means, such as a Spotify playlist or even a CD, could have easily debuted their music, the group chose to go with cassettes because of their physical presentation. Hammel explained: “The cassette is analog, so it’s a bit rawer, and the packaging makes it seem more personal.” The cassette also comes with a code to download the music, for the more Internet-inclined folks, but the group’s main goal was to ultimately focus on the physical production.
Tevlin described the cassette as “a physical memory that lingers” and one that can also be “retained as a piece of artwork.” The group believes this aspect makes the experience that much better, as those in attendance could leave with a physical souvenir of the night. Simon also notes that there is a campus community that makes and broadcasts music all the time, “but to have something physical, lives on like a memory, and you can go and be like ‘Wow, people put work into this.’”
The cassette then reinforced all the hard work they put into the album release and the work of “creating a community and creating a space, which is essentially the idea of ‘Midnight Gallery.’”
Echoing the collaborative process, the group was able to put on the event with a little help from Friends Records, who provided the group with all the hardware they needed—free of cost. Hopkins worked for the Baltimore company, who allowed them to get the cassettes they needed and, ultimately, served as their motivator for the entire album release process. Leading up to the release, there were little landmarks, as described by Hopkins, such as “the graphics [being] finished or [when] they had finished the formatting for the insert,” which served as reminders that the group could actually execute their dream, and that it was finally coming true.
“It’s a vibe; it’s a movement,” as Hopkins said, marking the perfect descriptor for this night of good music and good people.
Midnight Gallery can be downloaded at midnightgallerymusic.bandcamp.com, and be sure to follow the group on Instagram @ midnight___gallery and look out for posters around campus detailing their next upcoming show!