steve mizek (lwe) – process part 162
I was incredibly honored when Modyfier asked for a second contribution to it’s truly excellent Process series. In kind, I wanted to deliver something a cut above a haphazard DJ mix and set about looking for a concept to give my piece a special cohesion.
When I first received the invitation the world’s economy was still in free fall. Jobs were being sloughed off as easily as a stray hair or dry skin cells, fear of being fired next was palpable. My first attempt at a mix was to underscore that dread in tone and lyrical content. Yet after few attempts the idea felt too depressing and focused on the wrong angle.
Cut to summertime. Things are stabilizing, but just. One of LWE’s readers in Chicago asks me to be the headlining DJ at his birthday party — on a roof. I had two goals for the summer: 1. Wear my lone sleeveless shirt in public at least once 2. DJ a rooftop party. Gripped with excitement at having the goalposts in view, I started in on a mix that began around 130 bpm and worked my way down to a leisurely 123 bpm. Yet in practice, starting with that much energy and working backwards was not very satisfying; I found myself limited to a short stack of tracks that couldn’t fit together in a compelling way without reaching for filler. Frustrated, I abandoned the concept. (And yes, I wore the sleeveless shirt, just not at that party. Chicago had a strangely cool summer.)
While talking with one of my closest friends, Tyler Grisham, earlier in August, we discussed how LWE’s podcast series was a great platform for artists. But we also recognized the site’s talent, my excellent group of writers, had not been able to tap into the platform beyond their reviews. With that, I decided LWE would have a new series of podcasts helmed by its staff. We would record mixes and explanations of our choices. It would be called Curator’s Cuts. I believe in leading by example, and I wanted my mix to be debuted on Modyfier so I could explain the process and share its almost year-long gestation period.
Making Curator’s Cuts 01 wasn’t easy either. I wanted the series to be focused more on the dance music climate we’re living in as opposed to the one we wished our crate digging and Discog-ing would bring about. So I collected relatively recent favorites and created a mix roughly 80 minutes in length. I found natural stops and starts and recorded the mix in two sections. Between the sections I sandwiched a recording of myself going track by track, explaining my choices and providing some relevant information (the same follows the second mixed section). It’s actually a lot more difficult recording a voiceover than I thought, and what you hear has been chopped and fitted by my talented and generous boyfriend, Mark Hofmann. The song playing under my explanations is “Clairvoyance” by Jon Hassell from his latest album, the astounding Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In the Street.
I hope you enjoy LWE’s first Curator’s Cuts podcast and check in to see what our writers offer as selectors.