The city is home to one of the last American record-pressing plants and a label that releases new music on cassette tape. We’re not stuck in the past. It’s just that the past sounded so good. Jeff Niesel
Located in a former elevator factory, Cleveland’s Gotta Groove Records — one of just a handful of places in the country still pressing vinyl — has been churning out records since 2009. For the first three months it was open, the 6,000-square-foot plant mostly made albums for local bands, but its client list now includes record labels in China, Canada and Australia. “I started collecting vinyl when it was going out of style just because it was really cheap,” says Clint Holley, who handles most of Gotta Groove Records’ mastering. “What people like about the sound of vinyl is that it has unique characteristics. People really want the artwork and some sense of gratification. ... If you buy MP3s and download them, it’s just not that much fun.”
R.A. Washington started Cleveland Tapes in 2001 and, at first, only released DJ mixes and original beats on cassette tape. Washington’s label has since evolved into a website offering downloads, but every new release still gets a limited-run pressing of 25 to 50 cassettes, many of which come with original artwork. “It’s tape, so the medium is sonically superior to CDs and to digital,” Washington says. “The bass and the drums sound better. I even like the tape hiss.” Next up for Cleveland Tapes: TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone is expected to deliver an album of rap beats that Washington plans to release on cassette. The artist roster is international, too. Cleveland Tapes just released a collection of sampled sounds and hip-hop beats from Maw, an artist based in Jyväskylä, Finland.