The Fine Art of Making a Mix

I’ll be the first one to tell you that when it comes to creating things, I’m not very good at it. In fact, I’m the worst. I was always bad at all art class assignments, I can’t craft to save my life, and I’ve never successfully DIY-ed a single thing. Meanwhile, I’m married to a man who designs and builds much our furniture, has a knack for painting, and DIYs everything successfully. Go figure.

There is, however, one thing I am pretty good at creating: mixes. I don’t just throw a bunch of songs onto a CD or playlist haphazardly. I obsess over everything from song selection to order of songs to title of the mix itself. It’s something I have always loved to do, and it’s a true sign of my love and devotion if I make a mix for you. I don’t know why I take it so seriously and so personally, but I do. I made four new mixes last night for our upcoming road trip, and I totally lost track of time for those few hours. It’s totally dorky how much fun I have doing this.

There are several steps to my process, but here are just some of things I think about when making a mix (be forewarned– #nerdalert):

1- First, who is this for? Even if it’s for me, I’m always planning on sharing it with someone in one way or another, so it’s important to know who all will be hearing it. I like to pick things I know that person will like as well as things they’ve never heard but I’m pretty sure they will like. I like to pick songs that for one reason or another make me think of that person. I like to pick things I know will make that other person laugh or smile. Like I said, it’s very personal.

2- What is this mix for? A road trip, a birthday, a party? The context in which the songs will be listened to is very important.

3- Going off of the above, is there a theme? I love a good theme to a mix. I’ve made mixes of songs that were important in my childhood, mixes of feel-good music, more dirty rap mixes than you can shake a stick at, and so on.

4- Song selection. It’s the most important element after you’ve established answers to 1-3’s questions. This is a process. Set aside a good amount of time for this. I add songs, then take them off, and then sometimes add them back. The songs all have to work together cohesively. Like I said, #nerdalert.

5- Song order. This is another part that takes a lot of time after you’ve selected your songs. I’ve always subscribed by this quote from one of my favorite movies, High Fidelity: “The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.” Songs have to flow from one to the next, and the mix can’t taper off at the end. You have to find the balance.

6- Naming the mix. This is always my last step. Don’t underestimate a good title for your playlist. It helps set the mood and will help you remember what’s on the mix. Bonus points if it also makes you laugh.

List accomplishments as of last post:

  • I made spicy sriracha lettuce wraps for my weekly recipe. Awesome.
  • Tim and I had a date night in last Friday– we can’t be stopped with Game of Thrones. SO GOOD. I can’t remember what we had for dinner, but I do remember Tim picked up dessert from Feast for us.
  • Kept up with writing in my journal and taking photos.



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