Note: I used to keep a journal, many journals annually, and then at some point I decided I didn’t need to constantly write to hold onto my sanity and that I didn’t want to create without an audience anymore, really. Now I make a seasonal mixtape that kind of captures that season of my life and share it with everyone and that is how I document and remember what I was doing, thinking, and feeling during that time.
I ended an almost four year relationship right before Covid hit. We were very in love and having difficulty ending a relationship that wasn’t really serving either of us–especially not me–and so in a way, the pandemic sort of finally forced an ending after many break-ups and reunions, requiring us to figure out how to survive and navigate this totally unpredictable situation without each other.
Have you ever wanted to be in love so badly that you sort of imposed those emotions on a relationship in which they weren’t really present? I have done this many times in my life. The idea for this tape really began in August, during one of those many times in this pandemic when things were reopening and people were starting to gather trepidatiously on picnic blankets and patios. I started dating someone and allowed myself to get very excited about them, even though their behavior was pretty fucked up and should have sent alarm bells ringing from the very beginning. Needless to say, that relationship (which only lasted two weeks) ended up being extremely disappointing and retraumatizing. While I was still excited about this new relationship, though, I began to make a mixtape draft I still have sitting around somewhere on the subject of “new relationship energy:” songs that really capture that sense of excitement when you have met someone who really opens up a space of desire and possibility. I quickly shelved this project when I realized I had done that thing I do often where I get too excited by the idea of something and fail to notice it is completely out of line with what is happening in real time. (And yes, for my astrology nerds out there, I do have a Piscean love nature. Fuck me, right?)
In October (before Covid numbers exploded worse than they ever had before) I got lonely enough as a single person living alone during a pandemic to try to date again. The next person was extremely exciting and also ended up being equally disappointing–but at least they never behaved in a way that was harmful. I sort of gave up on dating then, since Covid shit hit the fan super hard right after and it felt impossible to locate someone who wouldn’t just be a total bummer and/or waste of time, but along the way my friend Glenna shared this dub of this track “Sweetheart” by Rainy Davis they had stumbled across while tending the record bins at Gramaphone. I fell in love with it, and also fell in love with the Pylon song “Yo-Yo” when I got a copy of the Chomp reissue. They felt like they belonged together in what I began to refer to as my “sweetheart set.”
In the spring, as the vaccine started to roll out and the disappearance of winter led to feelings of renewal, hope about the pandemic waning, and extreme horniness, I started talking to someone new whom I got very excited about and actually made this mixtape with the intention of giving to them. That relationship also ended up being wildly disappointing, but when I ended it, I knew exactly what I wanted and was not interested in wasting any time. I put feelers out with serious intention for the kind of person I was looking for immediately and found someone within 24 hours who is so exactly the person for me that it has honestly been a bit surreal and disorienting and writing this now is really the first time that I am doing anything close to processing it.
I thought about shelving this tape and just making a new summer mixtape, since I made this one for someone who did not deserve it (again), and because there was still summer left to have a new sonic thesis about. But the more I thought about it, the creation of this tape was actually an outgrowth of my own process of figuring out what love is to me and what kind of relationship I want to be in: how it feels, what it expresses, all of the colors and shapes and sounds and multitudes it contains, for me. It was an outgrowth of setting boundaries with people, leaving situations that did not align with my needs and desires, and really getting to the bottom of who I am, what I want, and being fucking insistent about it. It is the final outcome of two decades of trying to have healthy and fulfilling relationships without models or guides and with an enormous amount of trauma interrupting and confusing it every step of the way. It has also been exactly seven years since the person I was very in love with died suddenly, so every cell in my body has officially regenerated itself, and I finally feel ready for the kind of Really Big Love that I am actually all about at my core again. And out of all of this, we arrive at SWEET AND LOW–my “sweetheart set.” ❤
Interestingly, there is this way that all this year I have been manifesting the future in these kind of wild ways. One example is that early in the year I posted this music daydream I had about me and Mariana Timony “cramping music journalism” to my haiku blog, with her cast as Poison Ivy and me as Lux Interior, performing “Garbageman,” beating music journalism with a stick until its thick, and music journalism getting better as we take out the trash. Literally the next day, she was made a senior editor at Bandcamp and I started pitching her, because I finally knew an editor I felt supported by and comfortable with. Similarly, with this mixtape, the themes of summer and new relationship energy combined with the feelings of escaping loneliness and driving/going places together as the economy and our social worlds began to open up a bit again as the vaccine was rolled out. My eldest aunt died shortly after and I was notified that I would be inheriting my mom’s old car that she was now able to pay off–the first car I have ever owned (I am presently 34) and a serious life upgrade. And I am now basking in the exact kind of relationship energy I was charting out in the spring when I made this, as well.
I still haven’t decided if I am going to give the hard copy of this mixtape to the person I am very happily dating now as a result of all this work to get to the bottom of what truly beats at the center of an EMD, who makes me feel way more secure in a relationship than I ever have before and also believe very strongly that anything is possible. Is he worthy of this mixtape? 1000%. But if I have discovered anything through the process of making this, it is that I made it for myself and to manifest a much improved romantic future–to have a guide and a model and also to bring it into being with conjuring magic. (I also don’t know if he has a tape deck? It’s definitely his if he wants it?!) It’s work has already been done, though, ultimately. What I am definitely sure of is that I want to share it with the whole world right now, so turn the volume up, with no further ado!!!!
Side A and Side B are both available to be downloaded here.
Some notes on this mixtape:
- I originally recorded Deee-lite too loud (as per usual) and had to re-record, so many of the dance songs which follow which are dubs and have a lot of acapella parts have bleed-through from more bass-heavy bits being underneath them and you will just have to love and appreciate this handcrafted stuff and note how it is reminiscent of what happens at summer music festivals when music from other stages can be heard behind what you are actually trying to listen to. 🙂
- There is a little blurp of bass at the beginning of the ESG song where I sort of hit record and didn’t go far back enough to cover it and it sounds like a bass cable going in and out of an amp and it is the most artful recording mistake I have ever made; I love it very much!
- It was impossible to have a smooth transition from that Gloria Gaynor track, because it is from a very early disco album (Never Can Say Goodbye) which pre-dates the 12″ format! They basically just blended tracks into one another in a way that render it impossible to get a clean transition without using a mixer yourself and blending into whatever you are putting next! So, as ever, that remains a goal for my future mixtapes.
- Last year my thing was starting my mixtapes with criminally underrated Liliput songs, and I guess this year my thing is making my mixtapes inherently epic by ending them with a 15-20 minute long outro. Please enjoy this special 2021 mixtape signature feature from EMD!!!!
© COME AWAY WITH EMD 2021