Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Making of a Mix

I wanted to have a new mix ready for “the holiday season.” I made my first CD mix in three years this past summer. It was very well received. In the three years between proper CD releases, I’ve handed out four hour archive mp3 CDs. While those CDs had limited distribution, the people who received them were always more than happy to sift though them and cut them down to a size and a composition more to their liking. I’ve also made some mixes that are available either as huge hour long .wma files, or even better, as web-only mixes. You can check many of those out at mennu.com/extras.

People like CD mixes and they make great gifts. There’s a lot that goes into a CD mix and I’m a perfectionist when it comes to these things. I don’t want to release it until I’m completely satisfied with it: which is almost never. But this time, I’m determined. I’m going to have the mix ready to roll in a week. I have some ideas for the cover art: it’s going to take a camera, someone to use it, some digital photo effects, CD envelopes (preferably blue), labels of various shapes and sizes and lots of printer ink.

In order to get the process started, I threw a bunch of the songs that I’ve been listening to into a playlist in some kind of order. Version 0.5 is the first version: I won’t go into the song selection in too much detail, but here’s a general idea:

Version 0.5

  • 1-Pet Grief-The Radio Dept. (I discovered The Radio Dept. on the Marie Antoinette soundtrack which my nephew Yonadav sent me. I got hooked instantly and downloaded their album so I tried two tracks out on this proto-mix. I didn’t want to use anything from the soundtrack, since I was already going to use the Bow Wow Wow track.)
  • 2-Missing-Beck (In 2005 Beck released two albums, Guero and it’s mutated brother Guerolito, the remix of the former. The remix version of this track was called Heaven Hammer and was done by Air, one of my all time favorites. I was infatuated by it, particularly in the summer of 05. This year, Beck released a new album called The Information, which my father (!) bought. I did a little revisit of the recent beck corpus and decided that I like this version of this song better than the remake.)
  • 3-Hamoa Beach-Gomez
  • 4-Oh Shoplifter-The Stills (A risk. I’m not really sure if this fits, but I like it.)
  • 5-The Worst Taste In Music (Extended)-The Radio Dept.
  • 6-Blah Blah Blah-Say Hi To Your Mom (When I tell a friend of mine that I’m putting Say Hi To Your Mom on my mix, he’s instantly disappointed that I’m not using Let’s Talk About Space Ships. I remind him that I’m ostensibly saving that for my Space Mix. This offers my friend no comfort since I’ve been working on the Space Mix for three years now. I just feel that for a topic that awesome, I need to make sure all the tracks are perfect. I also think this track goes well with the next one.)
  • 7-In This Home On Ice-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  • 8-The Other Side-Scissor Sisters (Been listening to a lot of Scissor Sisters: particularly their remake of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. This track has a smooth feel that, like a seedless grape, is hard to refuse.)
  • 9-What Are you Afraid Of (Dert Remix)-West Indian Girl (The regular mix of this is pretty good too, but I like the upbeat feel of this one.)
  • 10-Friendship Update-The Go! Team (Yes, I know I put this on the online playlist, but it’s so good!)
  • 11-Chapter 8 - Seashore an-Cornelius (An acoustic sounding pop track by a Japanese DJ.)
  • 12-Moonlight Feels Right-Starbuck (Dreaded Midnight Oldie. I remember hearing this song on the AM radio when I was a kid. What does that make me, 100? I’ve also been watching the new Battlestar Galactica on Netflix, and there’s a Starbuck, but she’s a woman.)
  • 13-Joy-Apollo 100 (Heard this one in an underground grotto called Double Happiness in Chinatown. It made me crazy that I couldn’t quite spot the song even though it sounded so familiar. I sought out the DJ and when he told me who it was I wrote it down on a cocktail napkin. Turns out I had it on the Boogie Nights soundtrack. I’ve been told it was also used on the 40 Year Old Virgin soundtrack.)
  • 14-The Wait-Built to Spill (Slow but good like carmel.)
  • 15-The Sound of Failure-The Flaming Lips (I used The Flaming Lips on my Wednesday mix.)
  • 16-Hello Hammerheads-Caribou (See #10)
  • 17-Fools Rush In (Kevin Shields Remix)-Bow Wow Wow
  • 18-War & Peace (Cornelius Remix)-Ryuichi Sakamoto (Listen to this with headphones.)
  • 19-This Is Not A Love Song (Thievery Corporation Mix)-Nouvelle Vague (Nouvelle Vague and Thievery? Like a peanut butter cup: two great tastes in one candy track.)

Before the above version could make it to CD it needed some changes. One of the Radio Dept. tracks had to go. I also added in some sound clips, which were, as in Belmar, taken from Patricia T. O’Connor’s monthly visit to The Leonard Lopate Show.

Version 0.8

  • 1-Missing-Beck
  • 2-Hamoa Beach-Gomez
  • 3-The Other Side-Scissor Sisters
  • 4-What Are you Afraid Of (Dert Remix)-West Indian Girl
  • 5-to vastate-The Leonard Lopate Show
  • 6-Blah Blah Blah-Say Hi To Your Mom
  • 7-In This Home On Ice-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  • 8-Oh Shoplifter-The Stills
  • 9-The Worst Taste In Music (Extended)-The Radio Dept.
  • 10-Friendship Update-The Go! Team
  • 11-Chapter 8 - Seashore an-Cornelius
  • 12-Joy-Apollo 100
  • 13-Moonlight Feels Right-Starbuck
  • 14-Hello Hammerheads-Caribou
  • 15-Fools Rush In (Kevin Shields Remix)-Bow Wow Wow
  • 16-The Wait-Built to Spill
  • 17-The Sound of Failure-The Flaming Lips
  • 18-War & Peace (Cornelius Remix)-Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • 19-You gonna vastate me with those yankee tickets?-The Leonard Lopate Show
  • 20-This Is Not A Love Song (Thievery Corporation Mix)-Nouvelle Vague

I handed out a number of copies, and have asked for feedback by tomorrow. I only got a little quality feedback. I also made a few decisions about the order, flow and song selection. It’s always a shame when you have to remove a song because of some kind of skip in the track. It’s like putting your beloved pet down because you can’t afford the cure. That was the fate of The Go! Team. See more notes near the track listings.

Version 0.82

  • 1-Missing-Beck
  • 2-Hamoa Beach-Gomez
  • 3-The Other Side-Scissor Sisters
  • 4-What Are you Afraid Of (Dert Remix)-West Indian Girl
  • 5-to vastate-The Leonard Lopate Show
  • 6-Manitoba-Tapes 'N Tapes (I wanted to put another track, called Insistor on this mix, but it’s got too much oomph for this setlist. Manitoba starts gently and then works its way up.)
  • 7-Sukie In The Graveyard-Belle & Sebastian (I can’t believe that this wasn’t on the previous versions. I sent myself an email from work to remind me to put this track on.)
  • 8-the sound of frink flinging-professor frink (I needed something to ease the transitions between these two songs. This one second clip does that nicely.)
  • 9-In This Home On Ice-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  • 10-Oh Shoplifter-The Stills
  • 11-The Wait-Built to Spill (Moved up.)
  • 12-Blah Blah Blah-Say Hi To Your Mom (Now separated from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I may drop it entirely.)
  • 13-Fools Rush In (Kevin Shields Remix)-Bow Wow Wow
  • 14-The Worst Taste In Music (Extended)-The Radio Dept.
  • 15-Chapter 8 - Seashore an-Cornelius
  • 16-Joy-Apollo 100
  • 17-Hello Hammerheads-Caribou
  • 18-The Beginning Stages, Part 9 (Reach for the Sun)-The Polyphonic Spree (Glad I could squeeze this one in. I was going to use The Beginning Stages, Part 7 (Hangin’ Around), but I decided on this one.
  • 19-Ventura Highway [Deepsky's Blizzard in L.A. Remix]-America/Deepsky (Replaces Starbuck as the Dreaded Midnight Oldie, except this has more modern production in this remix version.)
  • 20-The Sound of Failure-The Flaming Lips
  • 21-War & Peace (Cornelius Remix)-Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • 22-You gonna vastate me with those yankee tickets?-The Leonard Lopate Show
  • 23-This Is Not A Love Song (Thievery Corporation Mix)-Nouvelle Vague

And I’ve been thinking about adding a track by The Decemberists. Cool bands have names that start with “The.” An 80’s band capitalized on this by naming themselves “The The.” Anyhow, I’ve been listening to the new Decemberists album called “The Crane Wife” and I can’t decide which track stands out on its own. It’s a concept album that I think sounds good as a straight listen-through. On the other hand, there’s a track called “On The Bus Mall” from their 2005 album, Picaresque. I think I can squeeze it onto this mix. But I also want to put on “Casimir Pulaski Day” by Sufjan Stevens. If I add those two tracks it would create a whole new mix. Maybe that one can have The Acid House Kings on it. I don’t know if I can make a whole acoustic sounding mix. I would definitely put on “Real Love” by Mike Doughty and “Getaway” by Danny Golub if I were to make an acoustic mix. But I fear that I would be picking up stuff that I should have put on a mix two years ago. Ah the deliberation! But this is why some mixes never get made and I end up with a huge 4 hour archive.

I’ll deal with these thoughts on another occasion. This mix has a definite deadline: it needs to be done in a week so I’ll have enough post-production time before Chanukah. So I’ll leave it for now.

The acoustic mix should also have Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins on it. But should it have Happy or Rabbit Fur Coat? (Oh, here I go again!)

Now I’m really leaving it.

(How about something from Thom Yorke’s album?)