Yes, I know I’ve gone on about making mixtapes how many times here? Bear with me, I’m about to go on just a bit more.
Every now and again I return to my catalog of mixtapes — that is, the mp3 recreations — and give them another listen. By now I can tell which ones worked for me and which could probably have used a bit more planning. Not that I’m going to change any of them, though…they’re a specific part of my past, and changing them now would only turn them into something different. [Case in point, when I remade a few of them in 1999 and 2000, I was missing a few songs on each and replaced them with different tracks from the same era. The mix worked just as well, but it didn’t feel like a true recreation…it felt like a ‘remastered reissue’ instead.]
As I’ve mentioned before, around 2014 I chose to reinstate the mixtape rules when making new mp3 mixes: double batches of roughly 45 minutes each, just as I would on one of those Memorix DBS I 90s you see above. This forces me to think further about the flow of the music and the balance of the mix. The upside to this is that the end result is a pretty solid and well-flowing mix.
The downside? Well, I seem to still be throwing songs that don’t quite fit into the context of the rest of the mix. They’re good songs, they just don’t quite work with the rest. I’m thinking the main reason for this is that I’m no longer building the mixtape the true old-fashioned way, dubbing from tape or cd or vinyl, listening all the way through the song before adding the next one. I’m just that little bit distanced from the mix, just enough where I don’t always catch when it doesn’t sound right.
I’m making up for it with these last few mixes by taking that extra time to select the music I think will work best, and listen to a rough set list so I can get the songs in the right order.
Why do this in this digital age, you ask? Who makes mixtapes anymore? Well, these are for my own enjoyment. I listen to them at the gym, on long plane rides, during my writing sessions, and during Day Job hours. I’ve only ever shared my mixtapes with a few others, and in truth I’ve only made maybe four or five tops specifically for other people. I’m merely continuing the art of mixtape making as I know it.