There is nothing more '90s than a personalized mixtape.
One woman was recently reunited with the one she lost on vacation after it washed up on a beach nearly 25 years later – and it still plays the tracks she recorded on it.
Stella Wedell was 12 when she spent hours picking the perfect songs for her Majorca vacation in 1993.
The cassette, featuring hits by artists such as Pet Shop Boys, Bob Marley, and Shaggy, went missing and she feared it had been lost forever.
She was stunned to spot the mixtape, along with a list of the 20 songs she had recorded on it, on display at a photography exhibition she visited during a vacation to Stockholm in 2019.
Stella Wedell on vacation in Scandinavia in 2019 (Stella Wedell/PA)
It had washed up on a beach in Fuerteventura, more than 1,200 miles from where Wedell had last seen it, in 2017 and was recovered by UK artist Mandy Barker.
Barker sent the tape to a professional audio restorer, who managed to listen to all the tracks, and it was included in her touring exhibition Sea of Artifacts.
"When I was reading the track list, it seemed very familiar to me," Wedell said.
"So I took a picture of it and compared it with the original CD from 1993, which I still have – and it was exactly the same track list, but starting with track three. I remember that I didn't like the first two songs on the CD because I felt they were too old so I wouldn't have included them when I recorded the mixtape aged 12."
"I also have an association with the 'Jungle Book' song and this was always the third track."
The mixtape (University of Plymouth/PA)
What are the odds?
"I always made tapes from my CDs at this time to listen to them with my Walkman, especially for holidays, and to think that a tape I could have lost more than 20 years ago had been found was incredible," she said.
Twitter was shocked.
Wedell had been on vacation in the Costa Brava resort of Empuriabrava and on the island of Majorca when she lost the tape.
It washed up on the beach at Playa de Barlovento de Jandia in Fuerteventura in 2017 and was collected by Barker, who has been examining the issue of plastic pollution in the oceans for around a decade.
She initially doubted it would play, but was able to listen to all the tracks after sending it to the audio restorer, and decided to include it in her exhibition.
The show, featuring 47 of her works, depicted the cassette tape in a vitrine alongside a full track listing to show its age.
It went on display at the Fotografiska in Stockholm between June and August 2019.
Mandy Barker, who found a mixtape that was lost in the early 1990s on a beach in Fuerteventura almost 25 years later (PA Media - Mandy Barker)
"To be honest, I couldn't quite believe it for a while," Barker said.
"Even after getting the tape to play, it was then an astounding chance for Stella to walk into my exhibition and recognize her tape."
"I thought the cassette could perhaps be missing the first couple of songs because the tape had been pulled out. But the restorer I worked with assures me that what he has recovered was the beginning of the tape and there was nothing missing before that."
Through her photography, Barker has worked extensively with Professor Richard Thompson, who is head of the international marine litter research unit at the University of Plymouth.
She contacted him to relay the remarkable story of Wedell discovering her lost tape more than 25 years later.
"This is an amazing story and another example of the problem of plastic pollution," Thompson said.
Professor Richard Thompson (University of Plymouth/PA)
"It is very difficult to say exactly how long the tape has been in the sea, but the fact it has survived intact shows the durability of plastic and the threat it can pose to the marine environment."
The tape will continue touring as part of Barker's exhibition, but will be returned to Wedell afterwards.