A – I use “mixtape” to cover the whole range of personalized mixes, from cassette to playlist. My friends and I exchange them all the time! I got one from my friend Liz just a few weeks ago, and both my friends Mike & Corey have sent me them from time to time. My collections ranges from “Here are songs that make me think about you!” to “Here are songs you’d like” to ones that I’m pretty sure are secret “I love yous”
2. If you could send someone a mixtape right now who would it be and what songs would you put on it.
A – I’m warning anyone who’s getting a mixtape from me: You’re going to get Steely Dan. Possibly more than one song. I’m obsessed with them & they show up on everything.
Formerly, it was the Smiths. You knew I had deep, intense feelings for you if you got a Smiths song. My friend Jason, after the third such mix, said, “Darling, I love you, but you put one more Smiths song on a mix for me and I will kill you.” So he’s getting “West of Hollywood” by Steely Dan.
3. That cover of your book is a cassette tape, do you still own your cassettes or have they gone the way of the dodo bird?
A – I don’t, unfortunately. But a fan just sent me one, which was exciting. He also included a CD copy so I could actually listen.
4. What’s your favourite way to listen to music?
A – I love records. I’ve gotten back into collecting vinyl this past year, and I love the act of putting on a record. It’s a ritual. It’s a hassle to have to get up and change them over, so when you put on a record, you’re listening to at least one side, so you choose wisely.
5. Did you listen to a lot of music while writing this or were they all playing in your head?
A – I made extensive playlists to write by, always opening with Steely Dan’s “Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me).” It set me into writing mode, cleared out all the day’s mental clutter so I could focus on the story. I also did a lot of “research,” finding songs that fit the mood, playing old mixes from long-lost friends to get in the mood.
6. What’s the one song from modern times that is a guilty pleasure?
a – Guilty pleasure? I’d have to say “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. I don’t generally listen to dance music, but I really like that song. I always think of Stephen Colbert dancing to it, which makes me even happier. I’ve got a soft spot for Passion Pit’s “Carried Away” because it sounds so 80s.
A – Though classic rock & roll is my thing, I really love Janelle Monae. Her music always makes me feel like I can do anything; she’s such an icon of class, talent and creativity.
7. And what’s the one song you’ll always love till the end of time.
A – There are so many! I can’t just pick one. But I’ll say Tom Waits’ “Little Trip To Heaven (On The Wings of Your Love)” because it was my husband and I’s first dance at our wedding.
8. If you had to toss out all your records and only keep one, which would it be and why?
A – That’s tough, because I have a lot of great records. But I think for sentimental reasons, I would keep Warren Zevon’s Excitable Boy. It’s my dad’s copy, and my first memory–I was probably 4–is watching the door on the Asylum Records label spin around and around in my parents’ living room. And it’s a great album.
9. Do you have any favourite books about music?
A – I really like Donald Fagen’s Eminent Hipsters, just for the way he writes about the people who inspired him. High Fidelity is kind of a guilty pleasure because Rob is such a hipster manbaby and a horrible person, but the book itself is a treat. Cassettes From My Ex is a great collection of essays as well, with fantastic photography. I like peeking into people’s music collections as a way of learning more about their lives.
10. What’re the songs you think everyone should listen to, no matter old or young. If you don’t get totally psyched when you hear the opening notes Huey Lewis’ “The Power of Love,” Michael McDonald’s “Sweet Freedom” or Steely Dan’s “Peg,” then you have a black heart and no soul.
11. Music recommendations for those reading your book?
A – The Vapors, Warren Zevon and Tenpole Tudor. You’ll hear “Turning Japanese” and “Werewolves of London” on the radio, but go deeper. They’re such great artists and they deserve more recognition then they get.
If you really want to go nuts, look for the Fontanelles, who were sort of a Cure-type band from 80s LA. They’re featured in the movie Hobgoblins, which was on the TV series Mystery Science Theatre 3000. “Kiss Kicker ’99” is such a fun song.
And if you get on Spotify and look me up, you can actually find a series of playlists I put together from the book, including one made up of chapter titles and the other made in the style of the character Sid. I intend to put out more playlists in the future, so keep an eye out!
12. Could you tell us more about Record Saturday?
Sharing music is my passion, and #RecordSaturday is a way to do that. Every Saturday night at 8 p.m. EST, I put on a record from my collection and live-tweet it (@libbycudmore), with links so people can listen along. There’s generally a loose theme; when I played Siouxsie & The Banshees Hyaena, I posted pictures of myself from my goth days, including links to old goth DIY fashion websites I used to haunt before Hot Topic was a big thing. My husband always shoots a “pinup” of me with the record so people know that I’m not just pulling up a Spotify playlist and calling it a record. They’re very playful, cheeky and fun. Maybe I’ll put together a calendar!
But the best #RecordSaturday is when people jump in with their own thoughts, or make recommendations, and we get a conversation going about the music we love. It’s such a fun project and it’s been a great way to connect with other people who are as crazy about music as I am.
Jett Bennett moved to New York to become a music journalist. What she found was a temp gig as a proofreader, but at least she’s fitting in with the artists and musicians in the tragically hip Brooklyn neighborhood she calls home.
But when Jett opens up her mail and finds a mix tape meant for her neighbor, KitKat, a local queen bee renowned for her “enhanced” baked goods and retro videogame collection, everything changes. Jett drops off the cassette and discovers that it’s game over for KitKat: someone bashed her head in with a rolling pin… and left her pot brownies burning in the oven.
KitKat’s boyfriend, Bronco, is M.I.A. Her sister is so desperate that she asks Jett to snoop around. Then there’s that mix tape. Jett didn’t know KitKat well, but she knows music. And a tape full of love songs from someone other than Bronco screams motive—sending Jett and her best friend, Sid, on an epic quest to find KitKat’s killer through record stores, strip joints, vegan bakeries, and basement nightclubs—a journey that resonates with Jett, and her past, in unexpected ways.