002. SPORTSMAN // SIXTOO

During the process of collecting personal stories on the subject of Sony Sports Walkmans I was able to press pause on my busy pace and put in some extended time with prolific producer Vaughn Robert Squire AKA Sixtoo for a little rewind down Memorex lane.

SPORTSMAN: Did you have a Sony Sports Walkman ? Do you remember why, where and when you got it ? From memory can you describe it and the features it might have had ?

SIXTOO: My first Sony walkman was a WM-F35 model that I got in 1986. It replaced my micro Aiwa that I had a friend purchase for me on a trip to Japan – that got stolen from my locker at Langstaff High – a couple weeks before Christmas – the year before I moved to Nova Scotia from Toronto.

I turned into such an asshole without a walkman; my single mom really couldn’t afford it, but the price of her sanity far exceeded the price tag of the yellow box. I guess in retrospect it would have been equivalent to the J’s that everyone wanted – but even today I would take some Super Pro Keds AND a Walkman over J’s and no music. This was 86… I never fucked with the 2’s anyway.

I loved the Aiwa walkman… it was sleek and small and just super cool, this pinnacle of technology at the time. Everyone bugged out on when they saw it !

I was not excited to get this big yellow clunker with the water-flap that everyone else also had. Even as a kid I cared about individuality, and didn’t want to rock no clone-shit. That said, time obviously changed my feelings about the walkman, and I suppose in some way, it kind of solidifies the idea that some things become ubiquitous because they are just good ! The Sony Sports Walkman was one of those things.

In retrospect I can say that the Sony was absolutely a bulletproof and considered design. I remember it had the auto-reverse feature, which I loved. It was more or less a water resistant walkman, which sometimes would fog up – or temporarily die – when walking in from out of the cold.[…but it always came back to life !]

I was not excited to get this big yellow clunker with the water-flap that everyone else also had. Even as a kid I cared about individuality, and didn’t want to rock no clone-shit.

SPORTSMAN: Any particular memories of making mixtapes and getting into cassette culture ?

SIXTOO: My best friend at the time (DJ Moves) had a turntable setup, a subscription to a New York record pool, and a high speed dubbing deck – so every couple weeks we would make a new mixtape at his folks place. We would dub a bunch of tapes, draw up and print our own photocopy covers, then sell ‘em at the high school before the weekends so we would have some party money or whatever. The tapes we made always got the head-nod test on the walkman before they got sold at our high school. I started fucking around making my own records and mixes around this same time, so the walkman naturally became the thing I would test my mixes on – and was kind of this weird lifeline to my old life in Toronto – listening to old Ron Nelson and Mastermind radio shows – the CKLN vs CHRY radio station era – trading dubs of NY rap radio shows – and making little pause-tapes and mix comps with my friends. I would listen to all this stuff on the Sony. It somehow gave me this weird confidence when I started making my own music stuff… putting things on tapes made it feel every bit as ‘real’ as this stuff I was buying and listening to from radio… even when my music and djing was trash.

… putting things on tapes made it feel every bit as ‘real’ as this stuff I was buying and listening to from radio… even when my music and djing was trash.

SPORTSMAN: Where and when did you listen to your walkman the most ?

SIXTOO: During my last year in high school I was working night shift at a bakery and saving up money for my first real DJ + production equipment. I would bake a couple thousand loaves of bread per night ! I would go in at midnight, listen to cassette tapes all night, go home, shower, go to school, and then come home and sleep after school. Wake up, smoke a blunt, go to the bakery, put my headphones in, and make bread all night. I got really good at stealing boxes of batteries because of those shifts. I also lost a finger in one of the bread machines because I didn’t hear it turn on. I guess that’s why they didn’t want me listening to my walkman at work.

SPORTSMAN: Do you remember the first cassette tape you bought or listened to ? Were there any particular cassettes you owned that you played until the track listings rubbed off ?

SIXTOO: There are a couple tapes that I bought years after I got the walkman that I literally burnt out in it. Big Daddy Kane – Long Live the Kane, Beatnuts – Intoxicated Demons, P.E. – Nation of Millions were a couple that all got played right down to the hiss, and while the Aiwa was hungry…. The Sony never ate a single tape.

SPORTSMAN: Any last thoughts or random memories about your Sony Sports Walkman ?

SIXTOO: The Sony Sports Walkman was just like, this really personal way of collecting things that resonated with me musically, from my own stuff, to the type of stuff I listened to at the time, but was also this personal bodyguard in that you just be sort of invisible and invincible in your own world. Catch a fade, walk around the town with your hood up and zone out, and go steal some batteries. It’s the simple stuff, you know?

@sixtoobeats

Vaughn Robert Squire

D.I.Y practice & output = truck blap + hardware

house music, graphic design, type + motion experiments.