The making of a great compilation tape...is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.
- Rob (John Cusack), High Fidelity
Ahhh, the mixtape. Remember, guys? When you used to sit in front of your boombox with your finger on the “rec” button filling tapes with songs from the radio and basically ending up with an hour’s worth of half songs and three versions of “My Heart Will Go On” differing only in the lukewarm funnies the DJ would make about Leonardo DiCaprio’s watery death?
The mixtape is a high-brow medium for sure. It takes skill to put a good playlist together. Even after all these years I’m not convinced I’ve mastered it. And there’s so much pressure on getting it right, especially at M1lk where there’s always at least one budding or semi- music professional on the payroll. Actually one of the things that made me apply to a job at M1lk—many moons ago now—was that the ad said: “we like to play records with friends”. “Great!” I thought. “That’s what I like to do.” The part of my brain that remembers the correlation between a tape and a pencil somehow pictured this involving an actual record (or...CD? *gulp!*) player, but alas, we make do with modern technology.
We have a couple of pre-programmed playlists in the club café, but with the growing numbers of staff leading up to the opening of Fields and most of these staffers having strong opinions about music we now take turns rather than going on the infinite loop. Gone are the days where we have to listen to Drake sing the word “Tuesday” fifteen times in a song five times a day. (We get it. It’s Tuesday.) So when I started out making a mixtape for M1lk I didn’t want to make a mixtape for M1lk, but a mixtape of M1lk, or a day in the life of, if you catch my drift. This is how I imagine a day at M1lk to progress, from our side of the counter...musically.
Allow me to walk you through it. We start by taking a leaf out of John Cusack’s book: “You gotta kick it off with a killer...”. Abner Jay’s been killing it since the depression era, folks.
The man sang and played guitar or banjo, rhythm and harmonica at the same time. (Kind of like the first front of house-r to arrive at M1lk at 7.30 AM who has to prep the whole shop on their own for 8.) We follow with some healthy tensed anticipation of what is to come courtesy of TLC. We take it up a notch with the first morning rush: Tina. Yoncé. (You’re welcome.) Then, just as prescribed, we cool it off a notch with a little pre-lunch rush intermission thanks to indie darlings Haim, but carefully build it back up with Kimbra. Then follows what I like to describe as the deep dark soul of what is the peek of a Saturday brunch; when the line goes around the block and you’ve told so many people the pancake special you wonder if you’re still pronouncing words or maybe you’ve started speaking Dutch —feverishly illustrated by Blondie and Ram Jam, and broodily verbalized by The Stones and The Black Keys. But all is well that ends well and eventually things chill out like Skee-Lo and 5 PM it’s time to mop up and lock up with Neutral Milk Hotel.
Welcome to M1lk, y’all. Happy listening.
Listen to Nona's Playlist on our Spotify M1LKTUNES