Hi, I'm Dylan Todd. I'm one half of Team Sparkle Power. I'm really happy to be able to post today and wish the Denbow Family - and "Little Red," especially - congratulations on the new addition. Babies are the best.
Before I get started, big ups to the winner of our previous contest, Jessy Lozano, whose phrase "you look pretty" made us giggle and feel all warm inside. So, congrats to you. We'll send out your printable calendars ASAP. And a big "Thank You," to all of you who contributed. You're all winners in my book. And my book is titled, Awesome Winners, so that's pretty good, right?
But let's get this show on the road, shall we?
The first thing you should know about me is that I love music. All kinds of music. I'm a total music nerd. And I love sharing the music I love with the people I love. Part of my courtship with my lovely wife Candace involved numerous mixtapes with hand-illustrated covers. I attribute our marriage to those mixtapes. Well, that, my superior kissing ability and my good-looking buns. But mostly the mixtapes.
There's something romantic about a mixtape. The fact that you sat down and picked these songs to put in this order, with an audience's enjoyment in mind; that's magic that can't be replicated. It's human and warm and - yeah, I'll say it - sexy. Which is why, for the last couple of years, I've made a monthly mix available for download to readers of my blog. Because nothing says "I Like You," like making a mix. You can access the Master List that includes mixes made by me and an elite cadre of mixtapery masters by clicking here. You can also check out this Flickr set of my mixtape covers.
Having made a few mixes, I can pass along a few tips for making a good mix. They are as follows:
1. Have A Plan. I'll start with a feeling or a track or a lyric and build my mix from that.
2. Don't Try To Say Everything. Set a limit on how many tracks you're going to include. I try to keep my mixes around 45 minutes to an hour long.
3. Mix It Up. Part of the fun of mixtapes is the juxtaposition of genres, styles and artists. Why can't the psychedelic bubblegum of the Monkees and the mutant blues of Captain Beefheart occupy the same mix?
4. Test Drive It. I'll listen to my potential mixes a few times to make sure the segues are smooth, the length is right and the feeling translates. Sometimes this means cutting tracks I like, but that brings me to my last tip...
5. Practice Makes Perfect. The more you mix, the better you get at it. And the more chances you have to use those tracks that didn't make the cut. Birthdays, stocking stuffers for the holidays, anniversaries, Bar Mitzvas, Arbor Day, Cataract Awareness Month; there's never a wrong time to make a mix.
"But Dylan," you say. "Nobody has a tape deck anymore, so how do I make a mix using something like iTunes." To which I respond: Well, there are a couple of ways.
If you're tech-savvy and want to make a zipped-up mix like the ones I share, you can use this tutorial I set up a while back. It's written for Macs, but my PC-loving friends tell me it translates beautifully.
Or, you can keep it simple and make a playlist in iTunes, burn it to disc and then download this handsome sleeve that I made just for you to personalize and give to your special someone:
Download it here. Some assembly required. Batteries not included. Kids, ask your parents before using X-Acto blades and glue and always wear a helmet. Always.
Anyway, so those are my thoughts on the art of the mixtape. Make one for someone you love today. I can't guarantee that they'll marry you, but it definitely can't hurt your chances.