The thing about small talk, beyond the fact that it doesn’t interest me altogether too much, is that it revolves around the same set of subjects all the damn time. Personally, I prefer big talk: tell me what drives you, what you’re passionate about, why you hated that last book you read, why you think Batman can kick the stuffing out of Superman, why you’re angry that so many girls consider Harley Quinn a role model, etc. Big Talk that makes you you, so I can get to know you better. So that we can find commonality and be better friends for the things that influence who we are and what we do, and why we chose to wear the teeshirts we put on when getting dressed that morning.
Let’s not talk about the weather.
Let’s talk about Stranger Things instead, and let’s talk about it’s soundtrack because music is a primal thing that anchors the heartbeat and makes you want to shuffle your feet and bob your head to fill those shitty small talk silences when you can’t find anything to say to each other.
I’m an 80’s child. I was born in ’82, so my youth is a hallucinogenic rainbow-splattered memory of winged unicorns and Care Bears and She-Ra: Princess of Power. My childhood had tube socks, eating chocolate pudding from a can with a pull-top, and my first monsters were Freddy, and Jason, and Michael Meyers.
When you say “John Carpenter” to an 80s kid, their skin prickles with gooseflesh and somewhere, deep in their brain, they are hearing the first creeping notes to the Halloween theme song.
Like most everyone on the internet that experienced the Netflixsplosion, I loved the show. At the time of writing this post, two doors away from me, Tibby is currently crafting a Dread scenario for this evening’s board game night based on Stranger Things. I am making a mixtape of contemporary artists that I hunted down after we spent two evenings binge-watching the show who have a decidedly horror-theme, and are filled with synths, and are inspired by the likes of John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream, and Vangelis. There is a lot of love for Stranger Things in our house (much like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Dungeons & Dragons, and Gravity Falls.)
The genre this stuff falls into is something called Synthwave, or Retrowave, which draws its inspiration from 80s film soundtracks, television shows, and video games.
What is a Mixtape
If you’ve never seen a cassette player before, I can’t fault you for not understanding what the hell I’m talking about. Back in the days before MP3s and CDs, there was something called a tape deck that let you play music off sixty or ninety minute “cassettes” or “tapes”, so named for the little spool of tape wound through the device that kept your recorded music on it.
You could record stuff from tape to tape, or off the radio. Data transfer was often 1:1, so you’d be recording something as it was playing. I.e. fricken slowly.
It wasn’t efficient. It was a labour of love. Also, a collection of tapes took up a shit ton of room when trying to store them. To demonstrate your affection for someone else, you could gift them with something called a “mixtape”, which was a selection of songs of your choosing from various sources which you could share with a friend, or take on a road trip, or listen to in your walkman. To produce a mixtape for someone else was the equivalent of giving them a representative sample of your feelings in song form. It was a token, like a lock of hair or a little plastic ring with a candy gem topper. It was a sweet thing to do.
Today, I’m giving you a mixtape.
It’s playlist of all the wonderful sounds I’ve found in my search to carry Stranger Things around with me in my ears until the next season is available.
I hope you like it.
Stranger Sounds: A Mixtape inspired by Stranger Things
Dance with the Dead
Makeup and Vanity Set