I still make mix CD’s. I get that Spotify lists are kind of the thing now, but there’s something satisfying about actually burning the media onto a physical object and then having that in your hand. Also, I think it’s an unsung artform.

Well, not totally unsung. DJ’s, as a profession, started out basically doing this. It’s about not only playing good music together, but doing it in such a way as to not get monotonous. You can’t just blast an hour of loud Wagnerian noise and expect it to sound good from start to finish. There have to be highs and lows, quiet moments with the over the top aural assaults.

DJ’s eventually came to mix and remix the songs together enough and combined with their own additional beats and touches that DJ’ing became it’s own thing, but it’s roots are in just picking a good mix of music.

There are two people I credit with my love of this. One is a guy named Tucker. He used to give mix tapes (yep, actual cassettes) out as Christmas gifts. Given that this was at a time when making a mix didn’t just involve click, drag, press burn, this was a pretty thoughtful and spiffy thing to do.

So of course, I ripped the idea off whole cloth.

Second is a guy named Tim. For the brief time I was in college, one of my favorite and most memorable classes was Drawing 101. Tim was the TA and one day had us sit down and draw to music. We each had time to play one song for the others to draw to. I brought a stack of tapes and was dithering over what to play.

The guy before me played Rage Against the Machine. I countered with Sarah McLaughlin. I could have, however, countered with the Animaniacs soundtrack. I regret not doing so to this day.

My mix CD making has become less of a Christmas thing and more something that occurs when a critical mass of interesting music finds me and I can put 17 songs together (plus, maybe 4 or 5 audio clips from movies or something to add color). I give them names like “Does this Make Sense to You?”, “Confession” and “Suprisingly Upbeat”. They have themes and I make an effort to make them flow. I also try to keep them a mix of musical oddities, current hits and classic rarities so that I expose or remind people of music they might or may have liked.

Got any favorite mixes?

Peace,
MJStef