Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Mix Tape

Stanley and I are exchanging mix tapes via the internet right now. I've always been a huge fan of making mix tapes, which is part of the reason I got into dj-ing. It's fun to find songs that segue into one another, and it's even better when those songs serve a larger theme. The one I'm working on right now is a "Robots vs. Humans" theme, inspired by a couple of Daft Punk songs, and the Flight of the Conchords. I have 14 songs picked out, alternating between robot songs and human songs. For the first exchange, I picked out a good road trip mix, starting fast and ending slow. Stanley sent me a country-tinged mix.

When making your own, I firmly believe in what John Cusack's character in "High Fidelity" has to say about mix tapes.

You start out hot, then crank it up a little. You don't want to blow your load, so you take it back a notch. From there, you must vary the intensity. If you go with too much hard rockin', the listener will glaze over. If you whimper your way through, the listener will stop paying attention. Of course, there's always room for the hard rocker and the quiet song, but you must set them up with mid-tempo stuff. Don't be afraid to toss in the quirky song that you love, even if it's a bit inaccessible on the first couple of listens. But remember, if the tape's not just for you, you must remember your audience. Put something that will appeal to the person who's listening. It doesn't have to be a song they know, just one they'll likely enjoy. In fact, it's best if they don't know it. Who doesn't take joy in discovering a great new song or band?

Lastly, try to think about the long-term listenability of the mix tape. It may seem fun to toss that Weird Al song in there, but if by the third time you've gone through the CD you're already skipping past the song, it means you made a mistake, and your listener will be less likely to give your disc multiple listens.

I give the art of mix taping eleven pairs of headphones!

1 comment:

Stanley said...

I'm troubled by your characterization of my mix as country-tinged. Not that I'm a country hater, I just don't like the connotations.