A mixtape, mix-tape or mix tape is the generic name given to any compilation of songs recorded onto any audio format. A mixtape, which usually reflects the musical tastes of its compiler, can range from a casually selected list of favorite songs, to a conceptual mix of songs linked by a theme or mood, to a highly personal statement tailored to the tape's intended recipient. Essayist Geoffrey O'Brien called the personal mix tape "the most widely practiced American art form", and many mix tape enthusiasts believe that by carefully selecting and ordering the tracks in a mix, an artistic statement can be created that is greater than the sum of its individual songs.
When I was a teenager this kind of curation was common place. Whether it was to give your crush a mix of love songs, your best friend a celebratory present, or creating a mix to listen to on a road trip the mixtape was hip, cool, and omnipresent. I've always been a music fan but the migration to digital forms as seen a decline in the mixtape. Perhaps because it is too easy now or perhaps because new sounds are constantly at our finger tips.
Inspired by a recent crush I began trying my hand at something I hadn't done in a long time. I compiled a list of songs that I liked in a particular order, created an index and some cover art, put them in a zip file and uploaded them. I also burned a few limited copies and gave them out or mailed them. Check your mailbox sometime soon as you may be receiving a physical copy just like in the old days.
A priori (03/2015)
I created this mix for a guy I had a crush on. Side A is a pretty standard crush mix. Side B (called Paranormal Narratives) referenced conversations we'd had about Americans and their love of the paranormal. The mix is both sweet and spooky. Beautiful cover art A Priori by Fepe Carmago 2014.
I made this for an other friend in LA who made me laugh with a reference to the lyrics to Celebrity Skin. Oddly enough I had no trouble finding songs about either profession.
The Power of Rock (05/2015)
I was driving home from work a few weeks ago when Jukebox Hero came on the radio. It occurred to me that rock and roll wasn't just music. It had...powers! At least it did in the 1970s and 80s. I created a mix about rock's various interventions and wizardries. As the friend who I made if for said its both hard and hairy.
Color Of The Season (07/2015)
A summer mix with a hint of fall for a musician friend of mine. Cover art is a photo of Human Connections (1987) by Austine Wood Comarow. Photo by Ren Morrill 2013.
I recently made this for talented young poet who just moved to New York City. This mix is infused with the energy of the Big Apple but features songs about people and places. Cover at is a still from Fassbinder's Querelle.
I recently made a friend from Syria who introduced me to some amazing Arabic music. Side A is a mix of classic and contemporary Arabic pop music but all of them are legends. Side B is western music infused with Arabic influences. The cover is Mahmud of Ghazni and Malik Ayaz by Ryan Long.