Playlists are the right sort of sonic diary : NPR

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Teresa’s Spotify playlists.

Screenshot by Teresa Xie


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Screenshot by Teresa Xie

I made my first playlist on Spotify after I was 13. It is titled March ’14, it is 200 songs, and it is obtained every thing you’d anticipate from a very-online middle-schooler: Marina and the Diamonds (now MARINA), The xx, The 1975, Florence + The Machine, and “Let’s Go” by Matt & Kim.

The following playlist, April ’14, just isn’t so totally different. It stands at a whopping 213 songs and nonetheless has most of Marina and the Diamonds’ Electra Coronary heart (Deluxe) album on it. However in April, it appears I used to be additionally launched to 5 Seconds of Summer season, was actually into Tyler the Creator and Probability the Rapper, and even found Nirvana (I in all probability noticed the quilt of Nevermind on Tumblr and thought it was cool).

Quick-forward to March ’23, and you will find a playlist consisting of about 10 songs, that includes the likes of Brutalismus 3000, JPEGMAFIA, Nia Archives, and somewhat little bit of Sonic Youth. Between that (cursed) March ’14 assortment and my March ’23 one sits greater than 107 playlists: one for every month of the yr.

Most of my playlists are dangerous (even the latest ones), and I do not suppose they’re essentially even a mirrored image of my music style. Whereas most playlists are likely to give attention to cohesion, mine have at all times been extra about documentation. I am going to add no matter songs stick out to me that month with none considered the way it suits into a bigger theme (that is the way you get Radiohead and Ice Spice inside a couple of minutes of one another).

Newborn babies listen to music with headphones.

Joe Klamar/AFP through Getty Photographs

Newborn babies listen to music with headphones.

Joe Klamar/AFP through Getty Photographs

Whereas I by no means supposed to make month-to-month playlists after I created my first in March 2014, over time they’ve turn into sonic diaries — methods to take me again to locations and folks from the previous by means of a set of songs. Once I hearken to my August ’21 playlist, consisting principally of home tracks from artists like Park Hye Jin, Jayda G and TSHA, I am reminded of a candy summer time residing with my buddy in Brooklyn, when all that stood in entrance of us was weekends exploring the town and our closing yr of faculty.

However not each playlist is harking back to rosy recollections: November ’20 solely has 4 songs on it (most of them are by Jamila Woods), main me to imagine I will need to have actually been going by means of it.

Within the final couple of years, I’ve began including a canopy photograph to every playlist, outlined by an image taken from that month. It is often one thing foolish: a chunk of artwork I noticed on the road, a meal I cooked, or the occasional mirror selfie. The pictures serve much less of an aesthetic function than a reminiscence cue, very similar to the gathering of songs itself. Typically, listening to previous playlists triggers extra sophisticated feelings for me than taking a look at previous journal entries; as an alternative of studying tales informed from my perspective on the time, I am listening to music for what it was and at all times has been.

Playlisting and even being methodical about organizing pursuits and tastes is not for everybody. It will probably positively be a frightening process. However whether or not you are pulling collectively a set of pictures, making zines, or creating moodboards, you possibly can relieve a few of that stress of cohesion should you see it as only a fruits of what you are considering or feeling within the second.

In a digital age the place every thing looks as if it is meant to be neatly packaged and consumed, creating one thing with out such intention exhibits us that the majority of our experiences cannot replicate a selected mannequin. And re-engaging with artwork that meant one thing prior to now redefines the best way we glance at this time: revealing the place we have been and what we got here from — even when that place is “Remedy” by All Time Low or an obsession with the Arctic Monkeys! And who is aware of, possibly you may notice not a lot has modified in any case. Can somebody queue “cellophane” by FKA Twigs?

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