For visual design, we look to look books and scrapbooks and massage our eyeballs and optical centers of our brain. For music, increasingly, the mix helps us find the mood, aided by expert practitioners in finding the right sound.
Sure, dozens of Web startups show up in my inbox each week to tout some magical automatic music selection engine that turns over your tastes and mood to HAL and pumps out some mix. I’ll choose the humans. Take Ghostly International’s Moderna, who has turned her music selection tastes into a career. As I huddle in for the northern European winter, Missy is celebrating an LA-style Indian Summer.
As she describes her background:
Moderna’s music history began at the age of 15, booking legendary artists such as Blonde Redhead, Out Hud and !!! to play shows in her native Utah. Her travels and eventual moves to London, NYC and LA, informed the founding of Re:Up magazine, a now legendary publication that documented the early-mid 2000’s electronic and downtempo scenes, as well as featuring some of the world’s greatest artists and designers which led her to start her work at Ghostly International, where she produced and planned events in some of the world’s best clubs and festivals, from Berghain to Sonar.
Moderna lives between Los Angeles and New York. Alongside her dj sets, she also creates unique and worthy listening environments for various spaces.
As for the tracks, they span the gamut from the addictive new Tycho track “Hours” to sun-kissed, tightly-tuned rhythms.
Jack Shit – TJ Kong & Modular K
Legend Gold [BlackLodge Remix] – Professor LaCroix
Discocracy (Hannulelauri Remix) – Bottin
Left The Ground (feat Ziggy Franklin) – James Curd
Hours – Tycho
Church (Midland Remix) – The 2 Bears
Twist – Peter & The Magician
Household Goods (Justin Martin Vocal) – Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
Behaving Badly (Diamond Lights Techno Remix) – Magnifik
Good Bye Horses – Q Lazzarus
Of course, we have plenty of producers looking to get the attention of folks like Missy – and many of us aspiring to put together tasteful mixes, if for nothing other than our own playlists, let alone the urgent need for artists to themselves work out how to become tastemakers and to put their music in a greater context. So, I’m always interested in how the head (or ears) put together a mix I enjoy.
Missy tells CDM:
A good solid beat and warm high synths are what I usually get into.
I tend to really enjoy simple basic vocals, not too “sing-y” clean and clear that can play almost as a beat, as well, like the eedinosaurs track.
I have to force myself on dance mixes like this one to not get too dark, as my tendency is to play the tracks that you usually hear at the after parties as the sun is coming up which is the next mix I’m working on.
I pick the tracks mainly by sound, beat, and speed, not necessarily by artist. I like to keep the entire mix on a complimentary flow — each track has to compliment the previous and next, and so on. Even the genre doesn’t play a huge part; I like to mix it up not do all techno or all Disco a little bit of everything (almost)
Whoa, wait — Missy, did you say you were afraid to get “too dark”? (Sorry, folks; I may have neglected to tell her which site she was on. Ask our designer/artist/friend proem about how dark music should get.)
(Thanks, though, for the quick response; I was pestering Missy over email in the middle of the night Pacific time.)
Here’s how she describes the mix:
I was inspired by the extraordinary heat I experienced this summer both in New York City and the Indian summer that is upon us now here on the west coast. If you know me well you know I am a fan of warmth so this summer has been one of my favorites (despite those few sweltering days in Manhattan that made me to question why I love the heat so much). But those days are now coming to an end as Halloween is among us along with the brisk air and the changing of leaves…for winter is coming (insert Game of Thrones Quote here).
So here is an ode to the heat, past, present and future, for which I am in no doubt hot for.
Give it a listen, check out Missy’s site and SoundCloud and latest, and have a great weekend, y’all.
Photo: Lindsey DeWitt – and I love the retro look, Missy!