July 15, 2013 by zdueck
Recently I downloaded a new app for my iPhone called MyMusic. While on the surface this app may seem like it does almost nothing but make all the music already on your phone slightly prettier and more interesting to look at while it’s playing and everything… But it’s actually got some pretty awesome features that make it a dangerous app for a relentless music hoarder like myself to have in the palm of his hand.For starters, right under all the albums I already have by an artists it lists all the albums I don’t yet have along with the price it would cost to download them online. Now while I rarely ever pay for downloads, simply knowing music is out there is all it takes to get me into music gathering mode. And the worst (or best) thing is that artists I had long since given up hope of ever hearing another album from (like The Aquabats since the co-founder of the group is pretty busy with the success of Yo Gabba Gabba and the rest of them more recently with their super hero style super show based on the mythology behind their stage personas). So now I’ve got a slew of new music to acquire and appretiate (so expect some articles on albums I’ve missed out on these past few years in the weeks to come).
But the best discovery I have come across because of this app has been 8tracks. At any time while listening to my music, I can just tap a button and this app will find a playlist on 8tracks with the artists I am listening to in it, or similar to the style I am listening to and play through that playlist for me. For the first few days I just thought MyMusic was magic until I realized it was actually mining these playlists from 8tracks, at which point I checked out the site and began listening not only to the playlists they offer, but actually to specific D.J.’s that have captured my attention.
I don’t know exactly what it is about this D.J.’s musical taste that keeps me coming back (especially considering how not a part of my regular repertoire this music is), maybe it’s that it seems like he has somehow found everything I love about nerdy electronica and J-pop while filtering out everything I hate at the same time. Oddly arranged electronica music with classical themes, J-pop esque rock themes without the terrible Japanese to English mis-translations that, while enjoyable in certain situations, are enjoyable in a way that often detracts from the awesomeness of the music behind the words… And chip-tunes (the most under-rated of all electronica styles in my opinion). No parodies, no crappy J-pop. this D.J. has somehow captured everything I love musically about nerdy anime/video game culture while avoiding everything that annoys me. And it is delightful!
I’m not sure if this is really fair as this is actually the account of a record label, not a specific person. But someone has to arrange all those samplers these labels send out to promote and sell their artists, and while they may not be D.J.’s in the strictest sense, on this site there isn’t much difference between how they approach playlists and how others do (with the limitation that they likely own the music on their playlists). But ever since I picked up a Solo album by may favourite Punk vocalist (Greg Graffin) only to find it was not released by his band-mates label Epitaph (My favourite punk label) but rather by this new label I had heard little to nothing about by the name of ‘Anti-‘ I’ve become a hug fan of their selection of music. I have since come to realize that Anti- is a sister label of Epitaph that came about around the time that Epitaph realized that they love too much music to only sign punk acts (A musical journey I can identify with). And so if you’re a punk kid who is looking to get a little more out of music, here’s how punks find good music that isn’t punk.
While I may not love everything this D.J. does, what she lacks in diversity she makes up for in creating a mood. It’s not something I have really attempted but I always respect people who do. While her normal playlists are O.K., when she makes a playlist based around a specific thought or mood, she actually does a pretty good job at capturing her idea. this playlist, for example has the following description;
“a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.”
and damned if she doesn’t hit the nail right on the head there. Just try listening to that without memories of the good old small town/country days of your youth flooding your thoughts. Pitching shopping carts off cutbanks, busting out your longboards for a little street luge or trying to coax the red fox far enough out of his hole to terrify him by the fact that he has wandered onto the driving range at the golf course down the hill… OK, so perhaps not everyone can identify with my small town days, but if you’ve ever spent any time outside a big urban cityscape, there’s bound to be a memory or two to accompany this playlist.
My best effort at being an Internet D.J. so far
When I was in High School and they made us take those aptitude tests, the one profession that kept popping up that interested me the most was the fabled ‘Disk Jockey’. I’ve never really had an inkling of how to enter that field, and even if I did, I feel as though my scatterbrained approach to music may not be the most well respected at parties. But if the internet has taught me anything, it is that there is always an audience somewhere. So I figured I’d give a crack at it and start publishing some playlists of my own. So for this attempt at a coherent playlist I decided to through together a workout mix of sorts. I listen to music a lot while I cycle and I figure I’m not the only person out there who enjoys some music to keep the pace going while getting my heart rate rising. So here’s some of my favourite tunes to cycle to, and my first foray into the world of the Internet D.J…. Enjoy!