Using Music to Explore Fandom

We are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to enjoying our favourite entertainment these days. From the names themselves we have always had a veritable selection of cross-medium goodies – from video games to movies, from books to figures.

The plethora of readily available official products are ironically one of the reasons that fan-curated content is so ubiquitous. With fanfiction and fanart, the obvious appeal is taking elements of canon material and adapting it to something the creator would like to see. Cosplay allows fans to step into the shoes of their favourite characters.

However, the more we are told what a series should entail, the more determined we are to find the edges and the gaps, immortalise what we love, and (perhaps) most importantly: collaborating and sharing with others. Which brings me to my favourite fandom contribution: the fanmix.

Fanmixes are song compilations inspired by TV shows, movies, characters… basically any kind of fandom source. The collection of songs may have a theme or genre, or attempt to capture a specific atmosphere. It may even simply be music that reminds the creator of that particular piece of work.

Music, for most people, is crucial. It has the power to help us recall entire sections of our life, or tag meaning to something we initially thought to be inconsequential.

Has anyone ever made you a mixtape, physically or digitally? Or has someone ever sent you a song and said “Hey, I heard this and thought of you,”? It’s a pretty special feeling.

For me, part of what makes mixtapes (and the fanmix) the quintessential expression of adoration is the sheer amount of effort and time it takes to create one – it’s a remarkable process of trial and error and unexpected findings. Connecting with lyrics, music and melody is not something we can force. It has to come naturally.

Fanmixes are a hugely interesting way of peering inside someone’s brain; an accessible and illuminating tool into seeing how another person interprets a piece of art. Music is something we can all associate with. We also know a piece of music can invoke a universal emotion – it’s how we fit that emotion into a specific context that makes fanmixes so special for me.

Over time I’ve made dozens of mixes for my favourite video games, TV shows and comics. Hopefully I can share them here on Weapons for Chai. They’re also a fantastic way of discovering new music!

If you’re new to fanmixes, 8tracks is a great starting point.

Have a wonderful day!

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