GenXmixtape: Who We Are and What We Do
If you are new to our podcast, thank you for taking the time to explore our website. Hopefully what you find here will encourage you to give us a listen. If this is your first time here, let us take a moment to introduce ourselves. We are Alan and Dave, co-hosts of GenXmixtape, a nostalgic podcast dedicated to the art of making mixtapes and the Gen-Xers who made them. The purpose of our podcast is to create a new themed mixtape for every two-part episode.
To make this happen, we begin by choosing our mixtape theme. Our themes vary significantly, which is part of the fun. Then, separately, we prepare individual lists of twelve songs (and six alternates) that we feel are worthy for inclusion on the mixtape for the theme we have selected. Neither of us knows what songs our partner has chosen. Further, we do not know how our partner has interpreted the selected theme.
When we return to the studio to record the first of our two-part episode, we both reveal six of our twelve songs and share our reasons for choosing them. We discuss, debate, and defend these song selections, share trivia and background information about the songs and the artists who recorded them, and determine a proper sequence for our combined twelve songs to create Side A of our mixtape.
We should note that the sequence for Side A remains tentative. This is because the following week we repeat the process, revealing the remaining six songs from our prepared lists. In total, we then have twenty-four songs. Proper sequence is key to creating a mixtape, so we always allow a revised sequence for Side A once all songs are known. Then, we sequence the twelve songs that remain for Side B. We end each two-part episode by selecting our next themed episode, and in this way, we create — on average — thirteen mixtapes each season.
This is not as easy as it sounds. Every Gen-Xer is aware that mixtapes are very intimate endeavors. They are much more than just a portable collection of your favorite music. A deftly crafted mixtape is a work of art, and creating the perfect mixtape is an endeavor that has plagued our generation for forty-plus years. Done correctly, a mixtape will earn you legendary status among friends and make and mend all relationships. But a poorly executed mixtape is an offense, it is the equivalent of a slap to the face.
The challenge of our podcast is to create a mixtape together. To successfully curate the perfect mixtape with a partner demands much more than collaboration. Our mixtapes are a unique meeting-point between two people, and in this way, we must trust and depend on one another to bring music selections that will complement our own choices. Fortunately, we know each other very well. We have been best friends for over thirty years, and we are well aware of each other's musical tastes. We are often able to guess what songs the other will have on his list...but, of course, we sometimes guess wrong. The podcast is as much a test of how well we know each other as it is a test of our musical divergence. Call us crazy, but this test is the most enjoyable part of what we do.
And, if partnering up was not challenging enough, we also have rules we must follow. There are always "do's" and "don'ts" when creating a mixtape. They are rules held sacred by those who obsess over the perfect mixtape, and they are why we always add six alternate songs to our lists. Our rules are as follows:
An artist may appear on a mixtape one time only.
Granted, there are some exceptions to this first rule. We can repeat an artist if the entire mixtape is done in pairs of artists (which is unlikely) or if a song requires the track that immediately follows on the original album (e.g. "We Will Rock You" should be followed by "We Are the Champions"). It is also permissible to include an artist twice if one track features him or her as the member of a band, and the other features him or her as a solo artist (e.g., The Beatles and Paul McCartney as a solo performer).
A song may appear on a mixtape one time only.
Two versions of the same song are not permitted. Covers are always welcome, but if the original version appears on one list, and a cover version appears on the other, we are forced to choose between the two versions. There can only be one.
A song may be used only one time each season.
Once a song has been included on a mixtape, it may not appear on a second mixtape until the following season. This rule applies to all versions of the song (e.g., if "Wild Night" by Van Morrison is selected, "Wild Night" by John Mellencamp cannot be used on any mixtape that same season).
The sequence of songs must be intentional.
Every song should relate to the next. The mixtape should take the listener on either an emotional or a narrative journey. Each new song should be an extension of the one that came before. The two songs may be related by story, tempo, instrumentation, or key signature. We strongly discourage our listeners from playing the accompanying Spotify playlists on shuffle for this same reason.
A balance between radio hits and deep cuts is requuired.
It is important to know your intended audience. "Crowd pleasers" are absolutely necessary to hold the attention of your listening audience and to guarantee that they return for future episodes. But mixtapes, by design, are expected to introduce the recipient to new music; they always have been. Adding obscure songs to the mixtape should be a rewarding experience for the listener —but it is paramount that any unfamiliar songs and artists complement the musical styles of the songs the listener knows. Furthermore, when applicable, we draw attention to a familiar song's obscurities by using parenthetical qualifiers (e.g., "alternate take," or "lost verse"). As noted above, covers are encouraged — as are remixes.
Excessively long tracks must not be used.
It is important to remember that analog cassettes had a time limit of just 30 to 45 minutes per side. We aim to be as authentic as possible in the creation of our mixtapes. Twelve songs of ten minutes or more is an unrealistic vision for any mixtape. The twelve songs on each side of the mixtape must fit the time allotted.
Live recordings must not be used.
Under normal circumstances, live recordings would be encouraged. They must be avoided on our podcast, however, because we make accompanying playlists of each mixtape on Spotify. The Spotify player does not allow us to fade in or fade out the crowd noise of live recordings. For this reason, the flow of the mixtape will be irreparably damaged. Abrupt beginnings and endings of songs are, in the best case scenario, uncomfortable and annoying. In the worst case scenario, abrupt beginnings and endings are jarring and off-putting. But there is one obvious exception to this rule. We can include a live recording if the source material already includes a proper fade in and fade out. This will typically only be found on greatest hits and compilation albums.
by Nick Hornby
“To me, making a tape is like writing a letter – there’s a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with “Got to Get You Off My Mind”, but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you’ve got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can’t have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can’t have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs and…oh, there are loads of rules.”
Did you know?
You should always refer to your compilation as a "mixtape." One word, no spaces. It doesn't matter if you make it on a cassette tape or a CD — always call it a mixtape. We are not arguing semantics. The word "mixtape" is actually defined as "a compilation of songs recorded in a specific order." If you call your creation a "mix CD," a "mix," or even a "mix tape," you have assigned it a different meaning. The word "mix" indicates randomness and an unsystematic blend.