PURE ACID MIXTAPES - Tapes For Your Trip Since 1994

THE HISTORY OF PURE ACID...

1994...

 The humble beginnings of Pure Acid, 1994 @ Insomniac (12th & Hope location)

The humble beginnings of Pure Acid, 1994 @ Insomniac (12th & Hope location)

PURE ACID MIXTAPES began in January 1994 in the Los Angeles underground rave scene.
Then simply “Pure Acid Concessions”, one of the first booths was set up at Insomniac, then a weekly party thrown by Pasquale Rotella (EDC).  At first, I was selling hand painted t-shirts and trinkets I found at the dollar store and spray painted day-glo colors.  It wasn’t a success.
 

 DJ Trance's "I'm On Planet E" - the first mixtape sold by Pure Acid.

DJ Trance's "I'm On Planet E" - the first mixtape sold by Pure Acid.

Pasquale encouraged me to come back, however.  I really loved the vibe and music of Insomniac, so I returned the following Friday.  That night I met Jason Blakemore (then DJ Trance) who asked if I wanted to sell is mixtapes for him.  I almost said no.  It was 1994, why were these cassettes?  Why weren’t they CDs?  Won’t Soundcloud be invented eventually?  I did take him up on it, selling “Live At Insomniac”, “Funky Ass Hardcore 2”, and “I’m On Planet E”.  I sold them all in one night.

I kept a copy of “I’m On Planet E” for the drive home.  It was an amazing experience, hearing such a beautiful chilled out trance mix after raving all night to old school techno.  There was something to these DJ mixtapes, evoking the psychedelic experience of a techno mix outside of the rave. 

From then on I was determined to talk to every DJ at every party, offering to sell their mixtapes at the Pure Acid booth.  I met all the Los Angeles underground heavy hitters, Ron D Core, R.A.W., Thee-O, Simply Jeff, DJ Dan, Jon Bishop, Vitamin D, Christopher Lawrence, Eli Star.  Eventually I would read flyers from raves in other U.S. cities and approach their DJs as well.  Pure Acid Mixtapes grew from a couple dozen tapes to a couple hundred in a year’s time.

 Shopping at the Pure Acid booth, 1996

Shopping at the Pure Acid booth, 1996

By late 1994 it was clear that a catalog would need to exist just for practical purposes of keeping track of all the mixtapes, and for the convenience of being able to order by mail.  It was widely supported from the very beginning, since the music was coming fast and furious, and not everyone could get to a rave in Los Angeles every weekend.  Every week a new updated catalog was made, often including reviews and anecdotes from raves we were set up at the previous weekends.

 

1995

 One of the first Pure Acid Mixtapes catalogs

One of the first Pure Acid Mixtapes catalogs

As time went on the rave scene really took off in Los Angeles, with parties going from a few hundred in attendance to thousands.  It was an exciting time to be part of a growing scene that basically started as something of an island for misfit toys.  The Pure Acid Mixtapes booth would be out every Friday and Saturday at different events and also became a permanent fixture at the infamous Magic Wednesdays.
 

My then partner at the time Larry O’Hair began joining me in setting up bigger and better mixtape booths.  He was in charge of the candyraver stuff, I was in charge of the music.  We made a pretty good team, but it was a lot of work spending hours setting everything up (and sometimes having to tear it all down when a party would get busted before it began).

 

 

 

 

1996-2000

 Pure Acid Mixtape booth getting bigger and bigger...

Pure Acid Mixtape booth getting bigger and bigger...

In 1996 the first Pure Acid Mixtapes website was created.  Primitive as all things internet were at the time, it eventually gave ravers across the globe a chance to browse our catalog and listen to sound samples of mixtapes.
 

 

 "So I think the rave scene is like really important and stuff because reasons..." Being interviewed at Planet 10 at the Shrine, 1996

"So I think the rave scene is like really important and stuff because reasons..."
Being interviewed at Planet 10 at the Shrine, 1996

At this time Pure Acid Mixtapes became an actual electronic mixtape label, first putting out cassettes by Jason Blakemore, DJ Tron, Dan Efex, Thee-o, R.A.W., DJ Curious and more.  We were always into making them look beautiful, as part of the fun of getting a mixtape was that it was a sonic psychedelic trading card of the scene.

 One too many all night raves selling mixtapes... I wish I still had those R.A.W. tapes though.

One too many all night raves selling mixtapes... I wish I still had those R.A.W. tapes though.

Weekend after weekend went by, driving out to San Bernardino, or deep in the desert, or in a Los Angeles abandoned warehouse, watching the rave scene explode.  And everyone who was there for the music wanted mixtapes, and they wanted their favorite DJs.  The Pure Acid booth could always be found at EDC, Nocturnal Wonderland, Narnia, Nation, Jujubeats, Technostate, and the first Coachella in 1999.

 

 

2000  - 2010

It was the end of an era as the website made it unnecessary to keep printing paper catalogs, so it was discontinued in 2000.  Pure Acid remained successful for several years until the popularity of the cassette waned.  As CDs became more popular, so did the mp3, and it was no longer as difficult to find electronic music with its growing popularity.  Eventually, the Pure Acid site was taken offline as other projects became more demanding with my time.

 

 Ken @ Pasquale @ Nocturnal Wonderland 2015

Ken @ Pasquale @ Nocturnal Wonderland 2015

2018

Mixtapes are back and so is PureAcid.com !  We have resurrected our old t-shirts from 1995 and will be re-releasing many of the old Pure Acid mixtape titles soon.  We have also made many of our old recordings available as high-quality digital downloads.


We are eternally grateful for the support everyone has given and continues to give us today, IT’S NOT OVER!
PS – Stop by our facebook page for fun photos, blasts from the past and news about the future of PURE ACID! 

-Ken

Ken/Pure Acid should be hailed as a cornerstone of the rave scene. He purchased mixtapes from DJ’s around the world and shared the love to us. To many of us, those tapes we purchased are now worth more than diamonds (atleast the ones that survived!)

To some, it was questionable if it was a label. And it is, partially. Ken often worked with the DJ’s and got the master from them and produced copies with the Pure Acid logo, and generally pushed for a playlist too. This took the hassle out of calling up the DJ and shipping out more tapes.

While there are many imitators, Pure Acid is the one that started it all, and helped boost many a DJ into stardom through his sells & promotions.

Even as the cassette industry has died down, Pure Acid was the peak of the cassette days and Ken & his propeller hat will not soon be forgotten.

Thanks for ALL the good memories!
— - Larry LaForce (KY Lube N Stuph)
 1996 - Always show up for work in a proper uniform.  

1996 - Always show up for work in a proper uniform.  

 Having a pretty good time in an unknown warehouse, 1994

Having a pretty good time in an unknown warehouse, 1994