Trove of Discarded Cassette Tapes Brings Back a Lost Shanghai

As a musician growing up in Taiwan, my music experience had mainly revolved around CDs and downloading tracks onto an iPod Mini — cassettes seemed quaint and outmoded in comparison. I loved the idea of making “throwback” mixtapes using my existing digital music library. When I told a fellow musician about this project last year, he pointed me to the pages of several Beijing-based analog publishers on the social app WeChat.

I began buying up dozens of secondhand tapes, planning to record my own music onto them. But when the cassettes arrived, I found that they were already filled with music — mostly tracks from the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. I was captivated. The tapes offered an audio snapshot of another era.