The new six-track mixtape cassette captures a journey of raw emotion through the changing seasons and pairs beautifully with the immersive art experience.
Oklahoma is home to some of the most talented artists in the world, and when Okie artists come together, magic happens. Factory Obscura’s Mix-Tape Vol. 2 is just one example of this collaborative magic.
Factory Obscura is a multi-disciplinary artistic collective in Oklahoma City that creates hand-crafted, immersive art experiences that transcend reality. Its latest installation is a physical interactive art exhibit in Automobile Alley called Mix-Tape.
The team at Factory Obscura has launched a collaboration with local musicians and artists to create a series of take-home musical cassette tape experiences to pair with the past-decades-themed Mix-Tape art exhibit. The mixtapes evoke a childlike curiosity and sense of nostalgia. This perfectly complements the Factory Obscura physical art experience featuring whimsy, thought, and detailed care.
The mixtapes are an impactful journey through six deep emotions in particular — Joy, Love, Angst, Melancholy, Hope, and Wonder. The physical Factory Obscura experience features these same emotions. In the art exhibit they are visualized in their respective rooms, and as anthropomorphic images, these emotions form a mascot band called “The Feels.”
Mix-Tape Vol. 2 features six new tracks from six local artists — Tony Foster Jr., Stephen Salewon, Endocrine Twins, Maddie Razook, Changing FrEQuencies, and Kashlee Banx — each bringing their individual ideas about what these “Feels” mean to them. Produced, mixed, and mastered by the amazing Tyler Garcia at 33rd Street Studio, the mixtape is a reflective and powerful journey featuring talented artists.
On Valentine’s Day of 2020, the Factory Obscura team released the Valentine’s-themed Mix-Tape Vol.1. Similarly, Mix-Tape Vol. 2 follows and narrates the themes of Spring–hope, newness, and anxiety–and its release was celebrated with Future of Sound Fest on the Spring Equinox, March 26, 2021, featuring performances from all 6 artists as well as visual and movement artists.
The two art experiences — the physical art of Factory Obscura’s Mix-Tape exhibit and the musical journey of Mix-Tape Vol. 2 — are colorful, powerful, delicate, and thoughtful while also holding immense playfulness and lightness.
When a person listens to this mixtape, even if they didn’t grow up during the era of personalized cassette tapes, they feel like a kid again, exploring and wondering about the world, just like stepping foot into the magic of Factory Obscura’s exhibit. This mixtape has the ability to make the listener feel reengaged with the world.
What follows is a brief rundown of the six unique tracks on Mix-Tape Vol. 2, but to get the real experience, the mixtape is available online here. It’s also available at the brick-and-mortar Factory Obscura gift store, which sells hand-decorated cassette players, too, for those in need of one. This is such a great opportunity to support local artists and musicians, so for anyone who has been looking for a way to get involved with the OKC art community, this is a perfect start.
Tony Foster Jr.’s “Here We Are”
R&B/Hip-Hop artist Tony Foster Jr.’s track, “Here We Are”, is featured as the Joy track and is a welcome introduction to the mixtape. The track is airy, playful, and enthusiastic, but it’s also stacked with creative lyricism and smooth vocals. The layers of the track fall in steadily, starting more simple and rhythmic, then expanding to layers of melodies, inviting the listener into the mixtape experience. The track feels just like the entrance into the immersive art experience, balancing maturity and playfulness.
“Here We Are” is a track that makes the listener stop, smile, and listen, and it perfectly encapsulates feelings of Joy. It is simple and steady while also full, complex, and beautiful.
Stephen Salewon’s “Love Someone Else”
The next track on Mix-Tape Vol. 2 is the Love track — Stephen Salewon’s “Love Someone Else”. Fueled with elements of jazz and bedroom pop, “Love Someone Else” is a beautiful blend of the eighties-esque vibe of the musical mixtape and physical art experience, but the song continues to feel unique to Salewon’s smooth sound.
Salewon’s lyricism serves as a perfect transition from Joy to Angst, touching on both the joyful and the angst-ridden aspects of Love, as evidenced by the bittersweet song title. Salewon’s music is always so thoughtful, careful, and comforting. This track is no exception.
Endocrine Twins’ “Rage Quit”
Endocrine Twins’ “Rage Quit” fits perfectly as the Angst track. The song hops between musical styles with experimental instruments and merged tempos. The transition between Salewon’s soothing track and Endocrine Twins’ intensity is definitely the starkest transition on the tape. But it works. It especially works because the transition of emotion between these songs shares the same intensity. While other emotions are gradual, this move from Love to Angst is stark and jarring in the best way possible to emulate the shock of moving from Love to Angst within one’s own body.
For folks who have enjoyed the physical Factory Obscura Mix-Tape exhibit, this part of the track is the teenage bedroom of the mixtape, bridging the gap between quirky and intentional.
Maddie Razook’s “If I Could Fly”
Maddie Razook’s “If I Could Fly” serves as the encapsulation of Melancholy, falling between Angst and Hope. The lyricism follows this transition as well, sitting within wonder, energy, and reflection. This track feels especially like a callback to the other musical elements on the mixtape and draws in creative instrumentals similar to Endocrine Twins’ “Rage Quit” and a similar rhythm to Salewon’s “Love Someone Else”. Razook’s lyricism shines on this track, playing with metaphors and the melancholy of “if.” One line in particular that stands out is, “I dance to keep the spirits away / I think I’m having one of those nights / Dance to keep the people at bay.”
For folks familiar with Razook’s work, “If I Could Fly” has that classic reflective melody, but it picks up toward the end of the track, wonderfully setting up the listener for the next track of Hope.
Changing FrEQencies’ “Hope”
Changing FrEQencies’ “Hope” follows Razook’s track beautifully and immediately welcomes you with a repeated mantra — “hold on to habits of positive energy.” This hip-hop/R&B track showcases the best parts of hope, not preaching blind optimism but acknowledging just how hard it is to be hopeful – “Instead you choose to press toward the light / That’s a divine flex.”
“Hope” is chilling and smooth, drawing in some of the best elements of Mix-Tape Vol. 2, featuring beautiful piano melodies and an irresistible beat. The lyrics of this track are validating and empowering, closing with “We need love. It’s on us. Let’s rise up.”
Kashlee Banx’s “Done Wondering”
Kashlee Banx is an immensely talented spoken word artist. Her track, “Done Wondering”, serves as the Wonder track. “Done Wondering” is read like a letter, addressing a former love, compartmentalizing and releasing old feelings and new feelings. Her words are the perfect closing to this mixtape.
“Done Wondering” wraps up the emotional journey wonderfully, drawing on themes of Joy in finding new strength, Love of self and others, Angst at lost time, Melancholy in reflection, Hope in the future, and Wonder in the sense of self-exploration.
Mix-Tape Vol. 2 is not yet available on any streaming services, and it is exclusive to the physical cassette tape format.
Folks can order Mix-Tape Vol. 2 online through this link and will receive a physical cassette tape in the mail as well as a digital download to access the mixtape on Bandcamp. For Okies living out of state, a physical work of music can be a comforting reminder of home, while the digital download makes listening accessible.
Local Okies can pick up Mix-Tape Vol. 2 at the Factory Obscura gift store. For anyone looking for a funky date night or a fun way to connect with local artists, Factory Obscura is the perfect spot to enjoy incredible interactive art. To get the full Factory Obscura experience, the Factory Obscura website and social media are updated with events featuring live music, spoken word, movement performances, and creative activities.
The Mix-Tape Vol. 2 physical cassette features art from OKC’s Bradley Morris, and the cassettes are made possible by Gregory & Ashley Terry at 46RPM. All profits from the sale of the cassette benefit the artists involved. There’s a limited amount left, as only 300 copies were made.
The team at Factory Obscura is building up local music, art, businesses, and communities with their collaborative projects. Mix-Tape Vol. 2 is a perfect marriage of local talent, featuring six incredible tracks chronicling a beautiful journey of the hope and melancholy of Spring.
To echo Factory Obscura’s foremost sentiment, “the future is collaborative.”