Having trouble making a mix tape
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  1. #1
    Tech Guru
    Join Date
    Dec 2009

    Default Having trouble making a mix tape

    I dont really need any advice on how to do a mix, but I've always had such trouble getting a mix down. I'm more of a crowd kinda DJ, some DJ's find it easy to lay down a mix, I need a crowd in front of me to perform at my best. I need that pressure to be able to pull off something special. When Im on my own behind the decks I don't have that vibe I get from having an audience.
    Another thing is most DJ's let tunes play on for quite a while on a mix tape, thats not what Im about. Im all about surprises, tunes coming in from nowhere when its least expected, switching up bass lines etc. I find it hard to get into the swing of things when Im on my own trying to lay down a mix.
    Another biggy is that Im too critical about the final mix. I've done some perfectly acceptable mix tapes and other people have said they are good, but there's always one tiny thing here and there that Im not happy with so I never let if go further than like a couple of mates having it on their ipod.

    Its actually quite frustrating! Anyone else have this problem?

  2. #2
    Tech Guru MaxOne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    London, UK



    I'm a completely different dj when i play out to when i mix. I often play bigger tunes when i'm out that only work with a crowd and which might be boring to listen to on a mix.

    But the way i see is they are different beasts - playing live and making a mixtape. Transitions that sound good live, chopping, mash up fx, etc can be annoying on a mix.

    Also, the truth is, and it's taken me about 12 years to learn this, mixes don't have to be perfect. People just want to hear wicked music.

    I think also it's a case of not trying too hard... just think to yourself you'll have a little mix and record it. If it's good, put it out, if it's not, delete it or leave on your hd.

    Also, peeps disagree with me, but sometimes you can work out a good 3/4 tune mix - just record that then leave it. then another day record 3/4 mixes that come out that last track. then edit them together with peak pro / audacity.

    Build a good mix over a few days.

    I agree though, crowd = vibe!

    or alternatively just record your live sets!
    Club of Jacks are a London based House & Garage production / DJ duo with releases on a number of underground labels including Plastik People Recordings, Blockhead Recordings, Hi Energy!, Pocket Jacks Trax, Soul Revolution Records and their own Club of Jacks imprint.

  3. #3
    Tech Mentor Mr.Nicklebe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Brighton - UK


    I have the exact same problems. But i don't let it get to me, there are mistakes and bad parts of all my 'mix tapes' if you can even call them that :P. I just let whoever download my stuff, or take it from my lappy. Then don't think about it afterwards.

    I make mixes more than i perform really. When i do perform it's mostly on the fly except a small selection of songs i know work well together. I get writers block when trying to start a mix on my own, i guess it's like trying to start an essay or write a book or whatever. I suppose just like you when you have the presure on from the crowd your brain kicks into gear and you slam out the tunes.

    The way i work whether i have writers block or not is to get a playlist of about 20 songs i haven't used before and then narrow them down to the ones that sound good together or have crazy samples in them. Once you get that playlist sorted it's fairly straight forward to get a mix down.

    One last random point is that i find when i'm walking out and about listening to my ipod i hear songs that i think would work as a good intro or have a good beat to use for something etc. I attempt to remember these songs or write them down then when i get home i'll add the track to a playlist and see what it could work itself into.

    Hope my babling helps in some way :P
    The Prime Directive - Electro, Disco & House
    My SoundCloud account: www.soundcloud.com/the-prime-directive
    My Design & Animation Website: www.mintyfreshdesigns.co.uk

  4. #4
    DJTT Moderator bloke Karlos Santos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Next to a canal in England.


    My kinda DJ is one that thrives off a crowd and does his thing live, not one that stays locked in a room knocking out perfect mixes.

    Rock a gig and the reward is huge.
    Make a mix and you are forever tweaking and pissing yourself off.

    Dont sweat the mix tape. make it , listen to it. improve but dont stress over it.

    You will ALWAYS get someone telling you where your mix could be improved and most of the time its not improvement that people are picking up on it just the difference in styles and approach that stands out.
    It all down to personal taste. Some people just think that their personal taste should be other peoples personal taste.

  5. #5


    I buy my music with my mixes in mind so I find it pretty easy.

    Also when i play out i have a vast array of music i know that go together ( i have done over 50 + mixes) I treat my mixes as crates.
    Next Curious People party with KYLE HALL!! Details HERE
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  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Karlos Santos View Post

    Rock a gig and the reward is huge.
    Make a mix and you are forever tweaking and pissing yourself off.
    Great advice Karlos!

    For those that need to make mix tapes, demos etc, I usually keep it simple, just transition from one track to the next. no crazy filters, efx, etc., because it def. gets very very annoying when you're not on the dance floor feeling all of those elements. while I appreciate the technical aspects of really tweaking sound, most people may not, especially when they are listening to this stuff in their iPods are cars.

    For me my mixes, are really just demos so people can get a taste of what i play, not for me to demo my technical skills. So I just keep those short, simple, and to the point.

  7. #7
    Tech Mentor
    Join Date
    Nov 2009


    I think doing a mix is a very different thing than playing live.

    It's like when recording at the studio. When a band plays live there are a lot of little things that happen in the moment and nobody cares, and nobody pays attention to in the midst the of the crowd with huge sound levels and some mind altering substances. The mood of a concert is very indulgent.

    When you listen to a mix you're at home, or walking with your ipod, or in your car... so the experience is quite different. As djmaxone has said:

    People just want to hear wicked music.
    And that is the truth. In general (me included) when listening to a recorded session I want clean transparent mixes so that the music stands out. Even if I love the music, if the dj is doing fx/tricks/whatever all the time I will be annoyed and won't listen to the session more than once or twice.

    The same with a band recording. We are accostumed to perfect recordings. Less than that and it feels like a garage band. That long scream at the concert was cool, but at home it's fatiguing and pointless. We are not indulgent any more.

    I love djing live, but also working out a mix at home. Yeah it's more of a design project than a performance to me, but I like that too. As they say in the film bussiness "pain is temporary, but film is forever".
    Last edited by pier; 01-21-2010 at 12:02 PM.

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