The most recent issue is titled “The Eighties”—a theme I chose because I dig all the nostalgia-heavy entertainment coming out: Stranger Things, IT, etc.
For design inspiration, I went to a thrift store and bought a couple of old VHS tapes and some audio cassette tapes. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with them, or how they were going to fit into the book’s overall aesthetic, but I’ve always loved how demolished analog stuff looks.
We ultimately didn’t use any pics of the destroyed tapes, but it sure was fun to destroy them:
Among the stack of tapes I got from the thrift store, there was one with a handwritten label that read “80s Dance Party.” Innocuous enough, but at the same time, it was perfect! Just my luck to find (what I assumed was) a genuine, ‘80s mixtape for my literary project. I was stoked.
I flipped the tape around and in the same handwriting, it said “80s Giggle Party.” Maybe some obscure band? A home recording?
So, I didn’t destroy “80s Dance Party,” and I pulled out my RadioShack cassette player and gave it a listen.
What I heard:
The tape is full little imperfections in the audio make for an unnerving listen. It immediately reminded me of the old mixes I used to make when I was about 11 or 12, recording songs off the radio. Those tapes got so bogged down with recordings over recordings over recordings, that after awhile, it all sounded like an analog nightmare. But in those cases, it was unintentional—everything on 80s Dance Party feels intentional and malicious.
The quality dips in some spots, like listening to music underwater. It changes pitches and speeds throughout. Sometimes, the music cuts out completely, but the lyrics keep going. I’m sure some of it’s standard analog tape deterioration, but other times… I just don’t know. It gets under your skin.
Here’s the tracklist:
- Til Tuesday “Voices Carry”
- INXS “The Devil Inside”
- Missing Persons “Windows”
- Echo and the Bunnymen “Under the Killing Moon”
- Gloria Estefan “Rhythm is Gonna Get You”
- Rockwell “Somebody’s Watching Me”
- Hall & Oates “Maneater”
There’s also audio of some sort of reporter. It weirded me out so I googled some of the words and they’re straight from a Dateline special on Richard Ramirez. Also what sounds like Macho Man Randy Savage (I think?), as well at least three points that features a man screaming in what sounds like a big, empty space.
I decided to upload the audio to my soundcloud, and you can listen to it if you want.
WARNING: LISTEN AT YOUR OWN RISK
When I turned the tape over to listen to “80s Giggle Party,” it turned out to be a 30-minute loop of a man giggling. His heavy breathing and relentless laughter… It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so unnerved. I stopped the tape and pulled it out of the machine.
I’m not going to post any audio of “80s Giggle Party.”
The creepy stuff that’s been happening:
When I got home the next evening, I found tape player with the “80s Dance Party” inside it. I thought I had taken it out, but maybe, I don’t know… I haven’t been sleeping well. I could’ve replaced it without remembering it. I’ve been spacing a lot lately. Been having strange nightmares, too.
I hit play, and it started playing The INXS song “The Devil Inside.”
But only one part. “The devil inside, the devil inside, every single one of us, the devil inside”
Over and over, that same lyric. A loop.
The devil inside, the devil inside, every single one of us, the devil inside
I hit stop and took the tape out. It was the correct tape—same handwriting. I put it back in. Jumped around with the rewind and fast-forward. The same lyric played at every point checked.
The devil inside
The devil inside
every single one of us
I’m not naive. I read enough scary stories to know that this is the turning point where idiots try to look for rational explanations. I’m not like that. My first reaction whenever anything seems spooky is: must be ghosts. I could hear a glass of water get knocked off the kitchen, and my cat could be standing there with water on his paws, and I’d be like, “Welp, the house is haunted.”
Okay, so keeping the tape might have been a mistake:
I didn’t get rid of the tape. Thought it could make for a cool story. Plus, who doesn’t want a haunted artifact? Right?
The next morning, I woke up to a missed call on my phone. An unknown number. When I played the voicemail, it sounded like this:
Is that someone screaming in the background?
The next day, I got another voicemail from an unknown number:
Here’s a rough transcription of the message:
…renew one or more products in your account, but we ran into some problems during the renewal process. To complete the renewal and avoid any interruption of your current service, call us at 480463884234628840008842. That is: 480463884234628840008842. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Daddy appreciates you. Daddy appreciates you. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. [???]
Oh, and also a friend pointed out something weird going on in the INXS vid. (Scroll up if you need to watch it again).
Now, look closely at the window behind me between 0:30 and 0:31.
Something is definitely at the window. The camera moves so fast that I can’t tell what it is, but it kind of looks like a hand.
And then between 0:43 and 0:44, it’s gone.
I don’t know what to do. Pretty freaked out. Suppose I could break it, but a little scared what that might do.