When people in my life these days who didn’t know me during Sunset’s peak years find out that I have a blog, they often seem surprised. “Do you still write for it?” “How do you have the time?” I get these questions frequently, and for a long time now I’ve had to answer with an ashamed “no,” quick to follow up with praise for the amazing team of writers I have who do just about every bit of work for the site today. As I venture back into writing, I wanted to share some thoughts on where I’ve been since the days when I posted on here every day.
I’m a little scared to say this, but to be totally honest, for the past year or so, I’ve been thinking about shutting the whole operation down. I’ve written many a pros/cons list about it, but I’ve never been able to get the pros to outweigh the cons. Sure, it stresses me out when the site goes down and I haven’t the slightest idea how to get it back up. The cost of maintaining the site isn’t insignificant. And I haven’t been able to make time to write as I’ve been working really hard to build my career. But staring back at me from atop the list of cons is something that’s hard to put into words, let alone a bullet point: this site is a big piece of who I am, and frankly it’s a big piece of what got to me where I am.
So where am I?
Well, I don’t really want to bore you with a long, drawn-out story…yet. So here are a few bullet points about where I am, physically and mentally. Because if you’ve been a reader of this site, you know I’m not one to hide my feelings.
- I’m 30, living in San Francisco
- I’ve built a good career since moving out here. I’ve worked at a startup, at Google, at an ad tech company, and now at Pinterest, where I lead a team of 10 salespeople
- I’m a very proud aunt of 5 (soon to be 6!) little kiddos
- Nearly 8 years after losing my dad, I still struggle most days with the sadness that comes with losing a parent
- To cope with that, I’m investing a lot of time in myself. What does that mean? I spend the majority of my time outside of work running (just ran my first marathon this year!), reading, learning about a bunch of things that interest me (more to come in future posts), meditating, taking time to be grateful for a lot of things in my life, listening to music that I love – new and old, cheering on my sports teams and exploring places around the world
- And I’m feeling pretty ready to get back into writing
So maybe you haven’t been a reader of Sunset in the past. In that case, you may be surprised to see me talk about my real emotions. Yeah, it’s been 8 years and I’m still sad. No hiding that shit. But honestly, I wasn’t always that willing to openly talk about my feelings on here. I used to simply use this platform to write about music and what I heard. I didn’t include anything about what those songs made me feel or why. Until one day I’ll never forget.
I was having a conversation with my boss at my very first job out of college. He asked me about Sunset and my vision for it. After hearing my ambitions, he told me quite simply that he didn’t think I was going to be able to achieve them. Umm…what? My heart sank. Truthfully, I was offended. I was putting so much time and effort into this website and, just like that, he had the right to tell me it wasn’t going to work?
But I let him keep talking. He said that without injecting my own personality or emotions into the site, there was nothing to separate my blog from every other music blog on the Internet. I shared with him my fear of exposure, particularly as a female writer. He wasn’t entirely insensitive to that, as he understood that at the time it was a bit scary to put a picture of your face on the open web (I’m aging myself a bit here), but was able to convince me of the benefit of making your true self visible to the people you’re writing for.
Truthfully, it was a major turning point in my life. He was right. As soon as I put my personality into my writing, it began a conversation. I became connected to other writers, to readers, and perhaps most importantly to myself. Eventually, Sunset became about a lot more to me than just finding new music and writing about it. It became an outlet for me to share my feelings, which ranged from excitement to extreme sadness when returning to writing after my dad passed away in 2010. But the more I put out there, the more I heard back from people who were reading. People understood me, and on many occasions were able to sympathize and/or empathize with me, which got me through a lot of hard times. They celebrated with me when an artist I had been writing about began to “go viral.” They encouraged me to keep going, keep writing, and keep investing in the site.
When I interviewed for my first role at Pinterest, I remember being asked what I’m most proud of in my life. I loved that question, and it was an easy one for me to answer. Sunset. It’s something that I worked really hard to build. Among many other things, it taught me the importance of never giving up, of teaching myself new skills when I’ve felt challenged, and of investing time in myself and my own dreams, because even if they’re not what pays my bills, sometimes they’re everything I need outside of what pays the bills.
So as I’m sitting here in my apartment on a Sunday evening, reflecting on my weekend, my life, and where I am today, I realize that I owe it to myself to keep investing in this website and, in return, in myself. Because I’m pretty damn grateful for this website and all of the opportunities it has given me. It’s a part of me. And I hope it’s a small part of you. Or at the very least, that it’s been able to give you the smallest bit of joy, because at the end of the day, that’s what this thing is all about.
More to come from me later, but for now, will leave you with a short playlist of some of my favorite songs I’ve collected and written about over the past 9 years of writing for Sunset.
These days everything’s in constant motion. Music, technology, and culture are moving furiously at breakneck speeds, which is equal parts frightening and exciting. Locked inside the echo chamber, it can be easy to feel lost, depressed, or lose sight of your goals, as you are constantly informed of other people’s achievements. In two weeks, I graduate college, and suddenly even life seems to be moving at a rapid pace. My friends are preparing to move on to the next stages of their careers, most following the path paved for them the day they chose their majors. I am taking a different route. And even though everything will likely work out in the end, I am scared. For practically the first time in my life, I have no real plans: no school after summer, no shitty internships, no job. So, with the last Tape Tuesday ever (!), I am asking: what now? And if someone has the answer, please let me know in the comments.
Thank you to everyone who has ever listened to a Tape Tuesday over the years. It has been a great honor to have a platform to put out these personal projects. If you ask me, that is all anyone could ask for, and if people listen, it is an added bonus. <3
And we can turn back the clock, making moves that I thought I wanted back at 21, 22, 23, 24 / Never wrong, thought I was never wrong and better off just wanting less but I knew all of me wanted more. -“Untitled” by Matthew Chaim
- Sway Clarke – Champagne Supernova
- Matt Champion – Punks
- Asaiah Ziv – Here (ft. SPZRKT)
- Alex Young – yrstruly
- Rostam – Gravity Don’t Pull Me
- Tunji Ige – War
- Broderick Batts – Fuck the New Kids
- Matthew Chaim – Untitled
- Richie Quake – Irresistable (Ice Cold)
- Mndsgn – Camelblues
- Rome Fortune – All The Way
- DJ Dodger Stadium – I Don’t Love You
- Ny Shallah – #PassOut
- Elijah Fox – Komodo
- Lil Uzi Vert – 1987 (Edit)
- Ricky Anthony – GHOST
- Babeo Baggins – Things I Forgot to Do (ft. Drake)
I am a month into my final semester of university. Obviously, this is a very reflective couple of months in my life, but like my peers I am also looking forward, trying to attain a job, stability, and some sense of control over my own personal roaring ’20s. My path in particular is unclear, as if I am climbing a mountain where the fog is not clearing from the top. This mix is about holding onto youth, facing doubt about the future, and persevering through the challenges of transition.
P.S. The next Tape Tuesday will be the 50th and final Tape Tuesday I produce for Sunset. Thank you to all the people who have listened over the years. Hopefully, the change will allow me to explore other avenues of music coverage for this site.
Tell me when to stop, tell me when to stop feelin’ for you / Tell me when to flop, tell me when to flop so I can make you feel better
This week’s playlist is sure to give you the feels, chills, and make jump out of your seat. Get the weekend started with the 5 Best Dance Songs of the Week!
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
I just finished my second to last semester of college, and it was a really frustrating semester. Let me preface this by saying that I am not going into the same industry as my major post-graduation, which right off the bat is frustrating. As you would expect, senior bioengineering courses are massively time consuming and detail-oriented. I could not even pretend to give a little bit of a shit about cell biology. My schoolwork suffered, and I could not do the things I wanted to with music. It was suffocating. I think I grew a beard just to feel control over part of my life (even the beard is kind of out of control).
When I came across the phrase “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out,” popularized in the ’60s by psychologist Timothy Leary, I could relate to the sentiment. In college, it is so easy to get wired in and lose sight of what is important. Per usual, music dragged me out of this rut, and I got really inspired by Kevin Abstract and Tyler Mitchell‘s “Echo” music video and The Internet‘s recent album Ego Death (in fact, the mix includes two tracks by their guitarist Steve Lacy).
This mixtape is a direct result of the light extracted from those projects during a dark time in the life of Arjun Grover.
I remember nights in November, last year I was stressin’ out, yeah / I remember nights in December still stressin’ ’bout Novemeber, oh yeah
NOTE: The SoundCloud mix is missing track 4 (“Meredith” by Dorian Concept) and track 17 (“Melting” by Kid Cudi).
I have a weird confession. I had not heard the “LA Girl” part of “Robocop” until I saw clips of Kanye’s recent live performance of 808s & Heartbreak on YouTube. I don’t know how this happened. I must have downloaded an unfinished version of “Robocop” from LimeWire when it leaked and never replaced it with the finished version! For years I have been unaware of one of the most beautiful album interludes of all time by my favorite artist of all time.
To make up for it and way overcompensate for that prior gap in knowledge, I made a mixtape inspired by “LA Girl.” It continues to highlight the recent upward trend of California-inspired art à la Gia Coppola’s Palo Alto, The Weeknd’s “The Hills,” and this past July’s Tape Tuesday The Hills Have Eyes.
Goin’ up in L.A., girl I know what you’re used to / Don’t worry ’bout a thing, we can just keep it simple
NOTE: The SoundCloud mix is missing track 13 (“Daddy Issues” by The Neighbourhood).
The Mid-October Edition of Womp Womp Wednesday is here, and we got some absolute heat for your ears.
Hotlíne Blíng – Charlíe Puth x Kehlaní (DATHAN Flip) – Starting this week with an incredible flip of a “Hotline Bling” cover by DATHAN.
Genevieve – Colors (PLS&TY Remix) – PLS&TY remix of “Colors” is catchy. Staying consistent with the feeling given from the previous check, you are going to hear a lot more tracks with this style.
Louis The Child – It’s Strange (Ft. K.Flay) – Two names in the electronic scene that have been popping up over and over again in recent months; Louis The Child and K.Flay. Teaming up to give a wonderfully unique. Soft lyrics and a catchy drop.
Porter Robinson – Divinity feat. Amy Millan (ODESZA Remix) (Free Download) – Another amazing track by ODESZA, this time remixing Divinity by Porter Robinson.
Milk N Cooks – Kiiara – Tennessee (Milk N Cooks Remix) – Chicago natives Milk N Cooks put out a very chill back remix with their version of “Tennessee”
Keys N Krates – Save Me (Naderi Remix) (Ft. Katy B) – The Aussie take over is real. Naderi is another artist coming out with club bangers
graves & FELMAX – Zebras In America – Possibly the heaviest hitting track on this list.
Adventure Club – Limitless Feat. Delaney Jane (Free Download) – Adventure Club? Check. Free Download? Check. Amazing track? Check.
Hermitude – The Buzz (Alison Wonderland Remix feat. Hodgy Beats) – What do you get when you combine Hermitude and Alison Wonderland? You guessed it, a heavy hitting club anthem.
The surprise album drop has been a popular trend for the past couple of years. I think the concept is a boatload — maybe ever many boatloads — of fun. The problem is it often keeps music media in the dark, and music media doesn’t like being in the dark. This forces them to speculate a lot. As a result music media has been flat out wrong more this year than any other year in its history.
How many times recently have you seen Pitchfork or Fader report false information and then apologize for it? The answer is way too many times, but the media is a reflection of the people. We are the worst speculators of all. We are constantly speculating on Twitter — like 24/7. It’s all we do. Bro, one of Drake’s… friends… instagrammed… fake artwork of a Drake-Future collab, and people lost their shit. Now, that rumor happened to be true, but as this constant speculation transforms into obsession, it becomes a totally unhealthy behavior.
Speculators is a 21-track tape. The original idea for the tape came from 19th century oil speculation à la There Will Be Blood. Somewhere along the way it morphed into the rant above. With this tape I made an effort to include more indie rock songs, like the older Tape Tuesdays.
There are so many discoveries on this one. I hope you take the time to listen.
Now I could die today and the world won’t change, so I’m not ready
I am not going to talk about flowers in this writeup. The name of the tape is more of a feeling. This is morning at the beach music. You can start your day with any of the first 13 tracks — preferably in the arranged order. After track 13, the mix veers into darker territory. It is like when the high wears off, and you realize that the summer is coming to an end.
And the flower is dead. Sorry, just needed one flower reference for it all to make sense. And the beginning is like the flower of love, blooming. Ugh, gosh, sorry… two.
I know enough about being high to know you my ultimate drug
The Weeknd has been on a roll in 2015. He has released two singles, “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills,” both of which are currently sitting pretty in the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100. I convinced myself that he was going to name his third album The Hills Have Eyes, and when he didn’t (he went with Beauty Behind the Madness), I decided to name the Tape Tuesday that as an homage to his exceptional year.
The tape plays like an escape from summer camp. I imagine around track 7 (“Round Whippin'” by A.CHAL) the protagonists are whipping their shitty cars around the hills while on copious amounts of ecstasy. Through the rest of the tape, they get in trouble, fall in love, and honestly maybe have a brief stint in rehab. I don’t know. Something crazy must happen to explain the seriousness of “Mend” by Planetarian.
But I guess that is the point of the mix. You can do crazy shit in the Hollywood Hills or wherever you are, but that crazy shit will catch up to you because the hills are watching.
Do you ever feel like the only one? ‘Cause I always feel like the only one
NOTE: The Soundcloud mix is missing track 8 (“The Hills” by The Weeknd).
Hit the jump to view the full tracklist…
I think I am going to need to prelude this writeup by saying that I do not pop xannies and do not condone the abuse of prescription medication. The purpose of this tape is simply to highlight a growing trend in rap music. It is not surprising that the effects of the 21st century prescription drug culture has trickled into the rap scene, and I would argue that much like Wiz Khalifa makes certifiably dank weed rap, artists like Lucki Eck$ and Jimmy Prime (formerly Jimmy Johnson) make “xanny rap.” As you will notice, the mix is not all rap music. I tried to space out the journey and the rewards of hearing some of the trippiest rap music being made (Also, “Lilly” by Toro y Moi is a wave). If you’re an impatient bastard, tracks 11 through 14 show the heart of the phenomena.
When I’m off all these bars I should be behind some bars
*SoundCloud mix is missing track 6 (“Lilly” by toro y moi)
Two of my favorite movies are Gia Coppola’s Palo Alto and Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere. Both movies are set in affluent areas of California, which I’ve sort of been obsessed with lately. Not to get too weird but the complex relationships had by young adult children of stupid rich families fascinate me.
So I set out to make a mix that sounds like the hills of the ‘Basas.
It started in Hollywood…
*SoundCloud mix is missing track 11 (“Bellyintro” by Lord Byron) and track 23 (“L$D” by A$AP Rocky)