After reading Cassette from my Ex, I started thinking about the lost art of creating mixtapes. When I was young the mixtape was a way to declare love without actually doing or saying so. It was a gesture of liking beyond liking. It allowed you to translate love (or desire) into song titles, lyrics or the melodic beauty of songs. The mixtape started disappearing in the age of the CD, in particular the recordable CD, and completely vanished in the age of mp3 files, playlists and streaming audio. It’s a relic, complete with ancient notions like limited storage capacity and a clear A and B side. Not for today’s kids, only for old romantic fools like me 🙂

Still, what is (or was) the magic formula for creating a great mixtape:

  1. The easiest one; who is it for? who are you in love with, who do you desire, or who simply is in need of new music?
  2. What music does he or she like (usually she, because music is still a bit of a nerdy male domain, and only men need a mixtape to declare love)
  3. Find a set of songs that are in line with that person’s taste but still surprising or new enough. Remember, you are supposed to impress the other!
  4. Find a theme for your tape. Love is good, but cliche. Desire or adoration are usually better themes. Sex is risky, especially when choosing very explicit songs. After all, you don’t want to scare your object of desire, and sex songs can easily be perceived as creepy. Avoid themes or songs that are political, psychedelic, science fiction or drugs related. Also avoid songs that are plain weird or make absolutely no sense at all.
  5. Start your mixtape with key songs. Your core message should be at the beginning of the tape
  6. Find a balance between up tempo and slow songs. You don’t want your listener to jump up and down when listening to your tape (or start reaching out for the tranquilizers), you also don’t want to induce sleep asleep.

(To be Continued…)