Friday, June 15, 2007

On mix cds

I love mix CDs. When I was a kid, we had mix tapes. I doubt there were such things a mixed phonographs though, so I don't know what my mom used in her youth...

They tell you a lot about the person who gave you one and likewise, can serve as a means to express yourself. I recently got a kick ass mix CD from none other than Tim Young all the way from London for the purposes of an upcoming Contrast Podcast show:

Contents will be revealed close to the show's airing.

Over at the NIN forum Echoing the Sound we do CD exchanges as well and I have to say I've discovered a lot of "new" music I instantly liked through this activity. The collection of international stamps and packing material is a source of entertainment as well.

This is the best avenue for such an expression of individuality. I call these types Category I. You're only loosely related to the one you are sending the item to (in the above case pod casters and NINers), because it's an organized event there's no expectation of reciprocation, and most importantly, physical distance protects you from the emotionally damaging eye roll or reactive violent punch that indicated that your person had the thought "Motherfucker. What kind of shit is this?" after scanning the track listings.

Now with close friends and family, these perks are meaningless because if they really did think to themselves, "Motherfucker. What kind of shit is this?" they'd tell you to you face, but probably wouldn't punch you. Furthermore, you're most likely aware of what they want in the first place. You get the picture. This is Category II

As a side note, my close friend Shawn got a whole freaking Mp3 blog and pod casting site from me. That's how special he is. Seriously, that's the whole reason why the Adzuki Bean Stash got started in the first place. Shawn and I would religiously trade music on a regular basis until he was shipped off to Kansas for grad school and it got to be an expensive hobby. Now you know. He's Category Alpha.

So here's the grey area (which can border on uncomfortable). You've either got a new friend or acquaintance that you do interact with and you need to make a mix CD for them. These guys are Category III Either they've asked you for new music, or you want to perk their interest with some of your demos, maybe they're getting it as a low steaks gift (who doesn't like new music?) or perhaps you want to open their eyes to the wide new world of underwater drumming...whatever the reason. You may not know their tastes well enough to compile something that you feel confident that they'd like.

On the other hand, they're not close enough to tell you if they don't like it. Upon asking them if they liked what they heard, they'll usually give you a cringy-looking smile and go "Oh, it was...nice."

Or, they just ignore you for a while and hope you forgot that they ever got the CD to begin with. That's the small issue.

I was discussing with a buddy at work about a bigger problem that has cropped up in the past with this Category III demographic: the potential mishaps involving lyrics and song title interpretations on their end.

I'm sure you've all been there before. You're getting to know Person A and for whatever reason you felt the great need to put NIN's "Closer" on there. Because you were lazy you ended up duplicating the exact same mix CD for Person B whose birthday you forgot and then all of sudden in the middle of a board meeting...

Person A blurts out: "I think it's vile that you want to fuck me like an animal!!"

Person B: "Wait, you gave me the same song as Person A? I thought we had some sort of connection going...."

Person A: "You're disgusting. I don't want you drinking any of my honey that's in my hive! And I don't care about your scraped up knees."

Person B: "I thought I got you closer to god. You mean to say you didn't really want to go to bible study with me? I thought you were falling apart on the inside. I thought you were asking me to make you perfect...and you go and give someone else the same song???"

Person A: "You bet your existence is flawed...asshole."

You see how these things go. It's just a song with a good beat and nasty lyrics but then the whole fun of it all gets messed up with over-interpretation. I'm just trying to give you a mix CD out of the goodness of my heart, not to fuck with your mind or subliminally plant messages of lust or tell you I'm suicidal, dammit!

Then you get those who are truly confused as to why you gave them one in the first place or why you gave them so many songs. This is definitely awkward and comes about when you misread the gift-taking-acceptability-factor of an individual. Because I love making mix CDs, I have a bad tendency to over deliver. Someone people happily accept things from you (Category III.1), a small but appreciated number are prone to reciprocate (Category III.2) and the there are those who think you're trying to get something out of them (Category III.3). Unfortunately with the Category IIIs this is a necessary thing to evaluate and oddly mix CDs are the perfect avenue for such a test.

Anyhow, with me it's easy. The more music you get, the more I like hanging out with you. So yeah, Shawn's earnings take the cake. The goal is to be a Category Alpha with someone.

As for Jay and his 3 cd b-day gift, one for each decade I rationalized, we're gonna have to wait and see what his reaction is if any. His initial response was completely unreadable as if he forgot he's gonna be officially old in a few days. In the 3 seconds I interacted with him, I did parse through all the lyrical content in my head to make sure it wasn't as "stupid" as Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" (That's his opinion. Although I argue that Jay *is* Snow Patrol. Watch the video). I did not however, check for potential smut. I felt like I didn't need to check but given that his inscrutable verbal response was "3 cds?" I'm biting my nails a bit.

I just pray he doesn't freak out during a web developer's meeting.

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Blogger Avani T said...

Your over-analyzing tendencies amaze me. I love it. I do the same but I am fascinated by your effort to take it even further and create categories of where people fall when you are making them mix cds.

You are absolutely delightful!

Friday, June 15, 2007  
Blogger Sheena said...

I love love love giving mixed CDs but sometimes I hate getting them... just for the reasons you describe.

My sister and I trade CDs often. And it's always hard to say you didn't like something. I think we've managed to avoid uncomfortable moments by pointing out the things we really REALLY like on a CD before telling each other which tracks we tend to skip.

At the very least we both know how much thought and work went into each CD and appreciate it for the gift it is.

In making gifts for people I tend to ask them what kind of mood they'd like and go from there.

If you ever want to trade CDs let me know! :)

Friday, June 15, 2007  
Blogger cchang said...

Thanks Avani (I love your user name). I think the categorization was in part to make the post more palatable. Turns out J is a III.1 after all, so no worries there (thank god). I already know you're a III.2

Sheena, I'd be intimidated to give you a mix CD, frankly simply because you know way more than I do about music (BTW, I put "Sunflower" on one of J's CD). I'd love to trade CDs with you some time!

Friday, June 15, 2007  
Blogger dasMobius said...

I'm privileged to have known you long enough to have actually traded mix TAPES with you.

About the music blog... I'll write something up for the new MM cd once I get it. Yeah, I still haven't bought it if you can believe that! I'll go get it once I pass my candidacy exam (on Monday)! For a while the whole album was on Myspace, but now there's only two songs there. I really liked what I've heard so far.

Friday, June 15, 2007  
Blogger thevitaminkid said...

Your theme is not complete until you sub-categorize types I and II. But I understand these are busy times for you.

I just like to make theme mixes and give them out, though I haven't done that in a long while. I've given out probably 15 - 20 copies of a mix I made called "How to Unwind in 14 Easy Lessons." It's a combination of smooth jazz instrumental and vocal songs -- a category that is home to a lot of schlock and bland efforts, but I picked out some classics that deserve the label "art." Brubeck and Sarah Vaughan, for example.

No complaints so far. Everybody needs to relax. I hope no one thinks a message was intended.

Saturday, June 16, 2007  

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