A summer without a suitable soundtrack isn’t really summer at all, is it? The sweltering heat, camaraderie, cookouts, and all that jazz just feels hollow sans apt musical accompaniment. Well, fear not, Hellions, as music committee member Brendon “Deon” Baranek has the tunes to groove with you over these sun-baked months leading up to the 10th annual Hell’s Half Mile Film & Music Festival at the tail end of September.
Baranek has crafted a 25-track HHMX Hot Summer Mix featuring festival alumni. The mixtape contains bands that have played the main fest (the One AM Radio, Matt Pond PA, Tunde Olaniran, Hollow & Akimbo, Bestfriends) and our Indie Music Showcases (Valentiger, MPV, Valley Hush). Sandwiched in-between the songs are several comedic commercial skits, facilitating the transition from cut to cut.
Most notably, the mixtape has the distinction of premiering a song from HHM favorites the HandGrenades. The Detroit quintet provided HHM music committee members with a studio version of the song “Daily Routine”, set to appear on an album they’re currently recording. Quite an honor for HHM to debut a song, eh?
“Daily Routine” is perfect summer fare, sunlight-saturated with a corona of twenty-something angst. Breezy verses are punctuated by the HGs’ trademark high-octane refrains. There’s a definite Ryan Adams influence throughout, with a deliberate tip of the hat as a line in the lyrics appropriates one of the cult songwriter’s song titles. Stream it below.
Baranek took the time to answer a few questions on the mixtape’s inspiration, tracklist, and creation.
Cole Waterman: Tell me about the song selection process, the sequencing, and the vibe you were going for?
Deon Baranek: We were attempting to showcase some the best artists that HHM has featured over the past few years. As with any mix, we were aiming to present a somewhat seamless play-through listening experience that possessed elements of the season — fun, sun, friends, and relaxation.
My girlfriend Shannon Proctor selected many of the songs that were featured in the mix. HHM music committee members also made some suggestions. We talked about the general groove we wanted to communicate and listened to just a ton of material from bands familiar to the HHM audience. Whittling down the songs to one 80-minute mix proved difficult since there was so much great stuff to choose from. Eventually, we had to pick songs that sounded good together, would transition easily, or would contrast neighboring tracks in complimentary fashion.
CW: Why add the comedy bits between songs?
DB: Comedy bits have long been an important ingredient to my mixtape recipe. Skits and obscure samples can function almost as audible punctuation. They can add excitement (!), depth or texture (parentheses/semi-colon), or generate a sense of confusion (?). They also aid in transitions, either serving as ellipses or a chance to hit the reset button with a period. Some of my favorite hip-hop records of all time are freckled with skits (De La Soul is Dead, The Chronic, etc.). If used correctly, they can really work well and make for a tighter, more complete mix.
CW: Did you do any tweaking to the individual songs (some of them sounded mixed differently, but maybe that’s just me)?
DB: I made minimal production adjustments to some of the songs featured. Obviously, the individual projects these tracks were selected from contained unique production elements. To make them sound more in tune with one another, I basically dumbed down those elements during the final mastering session [and] enhanced lower frequencies a touch for a lower fidelity final product to get every track on the same page. There was some editing for time as well, most notably looping the bridge section of Matt Pond PA’s brilliant cover of “Holiday Road” to make room for Clark Griswold’s classic rant from National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation.
CW: You had mentioned your girlfriend, Shannon, collaborated with you on the mixtape and was an integral component in it coming to fruition. Speak to that a bit.
DB: Shannon and I decided to make the mix together after hearing a few tracks from last year’s HHM Hot Summer Mix used as bumpers on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. It just got us excited. I’d suggest to anyone who is looking for something fun and cheap to do with their significant other to make a mixtape. You connect over the music, and it’s always good to bounce ideas off of a fresh set of ears.
CW: You’ve burned the mix to CD. Where will those be available?
DB: The mix will be available for free in physical form at Electric Kitsch and HHM events throughout the summer in limited quantities. I plan on uploading it to SoundCloud, Mixcloud, and HHM’s website as well.
CW: All of the bands involved have played HHM, except the Satin Peaches. Their song “Well Well Well Well” occupies a significant place, being the last track. Why’d you select their song to close out the mix?
DB: I just wanted to expose the audience to the legacy of our friends. The group was fronted by George Morris and contained Aaron Nelson, now the bassist in George’s Gypsy Chorus, Jesse Shepherd-Bates, now with the HandGrenades, and Ronny Tibbs, who played a 2014 showcase with his own outfit, the 305’s. Plus, the song just kicks ass.
- Intro skit
- Jamaican Queens — “Anna”
- The Vonneguts — “Hittin’ the Breeze”
- Valley Hush — “Children”
- Tunde Olaniran — “Cobra” (remix)
- George Morris & the Gypsy Chorus — “Stardust”
- Hollow & Akimbo — “Singularity” (remix)
- Valentiger — “Oh, to Know”
- MPV — “Real Good Time”
- Passalacqua — “At the Party”
- Bestfriends — “Lakeshore”
- Matt Pond PA — “Holiday Road”
- The HandGrenades — “Daily Routine”
- The Kickstand Band — “Summerland”
- Nigel & the Dropout — “Feat. Vacuum”
- Lightning Love — “When You Sleep”
- The One AM Radio — “Daylight”
- Calcaska — “Summer Bones”
- Sleepless Inn — “Too Many Birds”
- Pink Lightning — “The Finder”
- The Satin Peaches — “Well Well Well Well”