Creating running music - the Agony and Ecstasy

Any musician will tell you that whenever they create a piece of music, they pour their hearts and souls in their creation. Truly great music only comes about through the fusing of a musicians’ beliefs, emotions, influences and, of course, talents.

While at Rock My Run we’re not creating the next Beethoven’s 5th Symphony (though sometimes we work like we are!), we do put a lot of time and energy into creating our mixes. They may not be double platinum albums, but many hours go into a mix that will help you as a runner have more energy, be more motivated and hopefully perform better.

This blog post is to give you an idea of what the mix creation process entails and why it can be both incredibly frustrating and incredibly rewarding to create them for you.

Part 1: The Songs

It all starts with inspirational songs. As DJ’s we are constantly hearing new music, seeing what new artists are coming up, what new songs are hitting on the radio and what underground or forgotten tracks we may be worth (re)discovering.

Keep in mind though, not only do we hear the songs you hear on the radio, but we also are exposed to some of the amazing DJ mixes from other DJ’s around the world. A remix can take a pretty good song, like Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” for example, and make it extraordinary. Often times the general public aren’t exposed to those mixes, and it’s our duty to brings these gems to your ears.

Part 2: The Order

Once the songlist is decided, it’s time to figure out the right order of the mix. This is especially key for us at Rock My Run – you want a different tempo, emotional reaction or vibe in different phases of your run and given these are seamless mixes and not playlists, we need to put the right songs in the right order so that you either get the right pick-me-up as you fatigue or don’t start off too quick and burn out.

Take the mix “Sweat” by DJ JLouis for example: When he brings in “Rap Das Armas vs. Let The Bass Kick” from Lil Jon & Kassiano about 2/3rds the way through the mix, when you might be starting to tire, it’s done to help give you an added bit of motivation before the hitting the finish line. That track would not be nearly as good at the beginning of the mix, when you are just getting into the flow of your workout.

Part 3: The Mixing
(aka where the magic happens)

With the songlist and order decided, it’s time for the DJ to really get down to business: Firing up the turntables, actually mixing the songs in a seamless manner and adding all those cool scratches, samples, loops and effects that only DJ’s can really do.

This is by far the toughest part: not just mixing and the cool effects, but deciding when and how to mix from one track to the next. Do you leave a track to play for 3 minutes because it’s got such great energy? Or do you leave it on for only a minute so the runner gets a taste of the song and then moves on?

Ah this my friends is the beauty of it! There is no one right answer, hence the art involved. And trust me, it can be agonizing to get it just right – so the tracks mix perfectly, there is no overlap on lyrics (nobody likes that!) and the energy remains consistent.

Add to this the fact that most DJ’s are perfectionist and it can take anywhere from 10’s to 100’s of hours to put together a great, flawless DJ mix. Girl Talk, a DJ famous for his mashup mix sets has said before it can take 40 hours to do 1 min of a mix. Incredible!

But at the end of this effort can be a great work of art – a mix that can stand the test of time and still be great running music years and years from now.

So next time you are listening to one of our DJ mixes, take a moment to consider how it was created: There was a lot of TLC put in that mix to help you run faster, stronger and longer!