MICHAEL F. GILL The process for “Cultural Diffusion” actually started over five years ago, as I was listening to Playgroup’s “Party Mix,” a seamless megamix of ‘80s dance cuts that switched tracks every 20 seconds. Originally, I had set out to make my own private version of Trevor Jackson’s set just for my own enjoyment. But right upon starting, I was struck by an idea I had read in a recent record review: “the itchy Ipod finger.” The idea being that someone using the shuffle mode on their Ipod to search for a good song was the modern equivalent of someone channel surfing with a TV remote. So this became my new M.O. for the mix: it would be a simulation of someone shuffling through songs on their Ipod, hearing just the introduction of a track and then quickly changing to a new song after a few seconds. It seemed like a good commentary on the overload of musical choices people have today, and the shortening attention spans that result from it. As with most of the music or mixes I make, I took a hands-off approach to the sequencing here. If you listen to the Playgroup mix, or even the old “Grandmixes” by Ben Liebrand, you can tell they were highly labored over, where each transition had to be as smooth and flawless as possible. I wasn’t interested in doing something like that. I have thousands of MP3s on my hard drives, including a ridiculous amount that I’ve never listened to. I found the most exciting way to do this mix was to load up all these MP3s in my media player and then record myself manually shuffling through them. In this process, I got to hear introductions and bits of songs I’ve never heard before (and may never hear again!) bumping next to classics I’ve worn out. That’s the main reason this mix is called “Cultural Diffusion,” because it’s forcing all these different cultures, styles, and personalities to intermingle with each other.
So over the past five years, I’ve been building this mix from these media player recording sessions. When I say five years, I don’t actually mean I’ve been toiling on this nonstop since 2002. I basically worked whenever I felt like doing it, which could be as little as a few times a year. I would take my favorite parts and transitions of the recordings, maybe throw in a loop or an effect here or there, and then add this chunk to the main piece of work.