Because Karen O Says It’s So: A Bedtime Mixtape

“These ideas of mine
Percolate the mind
Trickle down the spine
Swarm the belly, swelling to a blaze.”

– “Every Single Night,” Fiona Apple

This week Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O was asked by Annie Mac (who run BBC’s Radio 1 show) to come up with a “bedtime mix.” The only available pieces of it are included with O’s interview here, in which she discusses the four songs she selected and her feelings about them, as well as her thoughts on nighttime and nocturnal habits. This starts around the 3:00 mark.

The interview and her selections got me thinking, because as far as I’m concerned nighttime is the most peaceful and scariest time of my day-to-day cycle. It’s also when I’m the most productive, writing into the late hours. I’m more focused than I could ever be during the day, in touch with what I’m doing in a way I can’t put into words.

It keeps me uninsulated as well, especially when it comes to feeling things. Without a doubt (not a doubt at all) I’m sure that I’m not the only person who experiences this. I definitely won’t be the last.

Music relating to these feelings were included in my Christmas 2012 Mix, ending with Fiona Apple’s “Every Single Night” (referenced above). It has also surfaced on CD-Rs I gave out to family and friends years ago. I named those mixes “Comfort Songs.” There might be a few copies floating around, but Lord knows where.

Within a day of hearing the O interview I had curated my own bedtime mixtape, relating to the act of writing and nighttime. I’ve discovered I link certain music to my work and would be able to give quick answers to the question, “What music helps you write?”

I would say Colleen helps me write. I would say L.A.-based Speculator helps, mostly because his tracks sound like something you’d hear on AM radio at 3 in the morning. Grimes helps me. An assortment of classical music, The xx and Chelsea Wolfe too, especially when she stays on the acoustic side.

As a whole the list is full of echoes, shadowy and kind of hazy, but I like it that way. It reminds me of tuning my radio years ago, during some troubled night when I was a kid. I ended up hearing a fuzzed-out, broken up version of Paula Cole’s “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” among the airwaves. Songs (and moments) like that are a little spooky, but comforting all the same. I think of them as little torches in the dark.

Without further ado, here are some of those little torches. Enjoy (or not).

Download: Bedtime Mixtape (via Box)

1) The xx – “Hot Like Fire” (from Tour Only EP, 2010)
2) Colleen – “One Night And It’s Gone” (from Everyone Alive Wants Answers, 2003)
3) Cool Angels – “R U Real” (from Demure, 2010)
4) Alexandre Mogilevsky – “Air On The G String” (album unknown, recorded in Japan in 1932)
5) Lana Del Rey – “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” (self-released, 2013)
6) Speculator – “Colleen” (from Live In The Lair 1, 2011)
7) Grimes – “Beast Infection” (from Geidi Primes, 2010)
8) Colleen – “I’ll Read You A Story” (from The Golden Morning Breaks, 2005)
9) Broadcast – “I Found The End” (from Tender Buttons, 2005)

And lastly:

10) Beck – “NYC 73 – 78” (from Rework_Philip Glass Remixed, 2012)

This last track is pretty much its own mixtape anyway. Every time I hear it I want to hug Beck really hard and thank him, but he seems a bit too formidable for that. I think he would hate it.


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