This week’s Friday Mixtape, and the first of the mix of the year, is by Bloomington, Indiana-born record label, Jagjaguwar. Rather than picking from the many, many brilliant records it’s put out recently, A&R at the label Eric Deines, has instead curated a playlist of songs which also portray the “dark and mystical” qualities of music the label has gained a global following for.
Some you will be familiar with, some may be newer discoveries, but over to Eric to tell us more…
Why have you picked these songs, what do they remind you of or make you feel?
There are no Jagjaguwar artists included on this mix because that would be like picking favourites among your children. These songs all have something mystical slithering around in them.
At the end of the day, I think Jagjaguwar’s essence is dark and mystical. We put out introspective music that should make you want to be around other people. I think these songs do that too. After the passing of Prince, Joni Mitchell stands as our our greatest living songwriter. I think Joni Mitchell and Frank Ocean have more in common as songwriters than anyone talks about. Someone should write something longer about that. John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things makes me cry every time I hear it. No joke. There’s this old photograph of my step-dad on a beach as a teenager with his fist raised in the air. It has the same effect. I look at it and I’m a fucking puddle. I want to find more things like that in this life. But for now, it’s Coltrane’s My Favorite Things and that photo.
When or where should this mixtape be listened to?
At the wrap party for the movie you made about your life.
What song or album did you listen to as a teenager and why?
I loved the opening track to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s Now I Got Worry. It was this startling, disarming, alarming scream. I’d never heard anything like it. I’d play it first thing in the morning. I’d play it in the school parking lot. I had a mixtape with that track and Immigrant Song on it. Just those songs, back and forth, for an hour or whatever. I think JSBX is a perfect band for teenagers. Bratty, crude, irreverent, full of piss and vinegar — but you also learn something about your body along the way.
What Jagjaguwar releases have you got coming up, who should we keep an eye out for?
Unknown Mortal Orchestra is going to deliver another masterpiece in 2018. We have a new artist called Cut Worms that’s like an Everly Brothers hayride through Greenpoint. He looks like Andy Kaufman, his EP just popped and a great full-length is set for spring. Bon Iver’s right hand man S. Carey made a record for the ages. There’s also a lot of Moses Sumney material that didn’t make this album and might find a way into your earholes sooner rather than later. Sharon Van Etten is working on something. But then again, she’s always working on something. Tim Heidecker’s anti-Trump protest songs are being collected onto a proper album. Eric Yahnker did the album cover. You’ll shit yourself. We want to release the last Talk Talk album(s). Mark Hollis, if you’re out there and reading this, we’re here for you. Talk to us.
What song or album is consistently playing in your office and why?
Mary Margaret O’Hara’s When You Know Why You’re Happy and Frank Ocean’s Solo seems to be on a lot. Mary Margaret O’Hara is a matriarch of the office, a guy from our ranks is walking down the aisle to When You Know Why You’re Happy soon. It’s like a self-help tape for a lot of us around here. And Frank Ocean makes perfect music. About once a week, I’ll be listening to whatever and think “why am I listening to this when I could just put on Blonde?”
If a feature film about Jagjaguwar was to be made, what song would be on the trailer and why?
I’m more concerned with who’d direct this clunker. I’d like to imagine it’d be Terrence Malick in his prime. But if I’m being honest with myself it’s probably Terry Gilliam or something, spazzy Fisher King vibes. Or maybe an Altman film — a lot of things happening all at once, overlapping naturalistic and difficult-to-understand dialogue happening off camera while you zoom in on the dog eating scraps off the floor. But at the end of the whole mess, something heavy and important has transpired, like a slightly compressed, whackier and more unnerving version of real life. As for a song — and I’m thinking final credits here, not the trailer but maybe that too — let’s go with Deacon Blues by Steely Dan. It embodies the soulful nihilism that would percolate throughout Jagjaguwar: The Movie. Steely Dan is the greatest punk band of all time. Second greatest is Dub Thompson.
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