I have been making a bunch of mixed cd’s lately, which reminds me how much I love the process of mixing songs and being a DJ. As a natural (over) analyzer, I put a ton of thought into my mixes. Too, overthinking is destructive, because the audience must feel the mix, above all else. Finding the balance between the two, a dance where both intellect and emotion lead at different points, is key. Just as John Cusack’s character in High Fidelity (a great soundtrack, BTW), ruminates on the art of the mix, I see myself with my good friends, passionately debating the ingredients of an outstanding compilation.
Personally, I think it is fairly simple:
- Start off strong, literally. Almost always, the first track should be upbeat (in tempo) and incredibly strong in its demand of the listeners attention.
- Tell a story. Picking a theme helps stay true to the plot. (Note: Genre and mood can equal theme).
- Ensure cohesive mood changes and song order. The order of the songs seems to be almost as important as the songs themselves.
- Finish emotionally. This leaves the listener wanting more.
Back in the day, I used to make a mixed tape for a specific person, and would never give that same mix to a different person. Now, I have been using themes, rather than making a mix for a specific person, breaking my own rules of yesteryear of never duplicating a mix. New times require new rules.
The hours it took, though, in making a mixed tape, remember? To cue up the chosen song (rewind, stop, fast forward, stop, fast forward more, stop, rewind, almost there…), see if it flowed well into the next, repeat the process until the exact song was found for the exact slot, and on and on, was painstakingly laborious. It was all we knew, though, and making a mixed tape was an act of love. And getting one…well, that created a special bond. It allowed us to speak through music without passing a note in study hall. Now, someone makes a mixed CD and it’s a nice gesture, but doesn’t seem to hold the same weight as the mixed tape. Ahhh, the good ole days.
Which brings me to the point of this thought process; How cool would it be to get paid to make mixes? People do, ya know. This is now officially my dream job. I daydream of working with directors like Sophia Coppola and Wes Anderson in the pursuit of the stellar soundtrack. I always like to shoot for the top, ya know?