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Make Me a Mixtape: Pure Intruders' Indie Collage Aux Session

Make Me a Mixtape is a segment where we interview artists and have them make a mixtape of seven songs based around a particular scenario, explaining why they chose each song. This week, we chat with the Chicago-based indie pop trio Pure Intruders, who curated seven songs for impressing indie Northwestern students on a Saturday Night in November.

Photo by Laurette McNabb

Back in March, the Chicago-based indie pop trio Pure Intruders released their EP No Hard Feelings, a relaxed and warm glimpse into the band's sound. Madeline Julia Smith's airy voice glides over '70s disco-inspired rhythms and synth lines, as well as touches of diverse percussion, a delicate acoustic guitar and twinkling piano. The trio formed during the 2020 lockdown and took advantage of the creativity flowing out of their solitude. Smith and Brandon Suarez (keys and percussion) recorded out of Chicago while Jonathan Noel (bass and guitar) contributed from afar in Atlanta, but Suarez’s crisp production dissolves any distance between them. Each song fills your ears with detailed layers of sonic textures, pulling that retro disco style into a contemporary and experimental pop lens. The trio's Chicagoan roots, neon night-life aesthetic and artful musicality inspired the scenario for this mixtape. Picture this: it's a Saturday night during November in Chicago. You're in an apartment with a bunch of indie art students from Northwestern and the members of Pure Intruders. Some pretentious kid passes the AUX to the band to keep the vibe going, or to make some sort of judgement on what they play. Get ready to shuffle awkwardly, entranced by the sound of these seven semi-danceable songs that pass the art student test.


I Just Wanna Dance (Maybe)


Feist — "One Evening"


"November in Chicago can pretty much already be freezing. Feist literally sounds like warmth to me. I feel like 'One Evening' would be the result if she was asked to write a song for the Bee Gees. The track doesn't exactly demand you get on the dance floor, but it's almost impossible not to sway to. Its groove has the potential to start a small dance in the living room, but is also relaxed enough to let you stand in the corner and finish your rant about your last class critique."


Queen — "Cool Cat"


"November can also be a pretty stressful time of the year for some students. 'Cool Cat' is like a satisfying exhale. Most people I know find it hard to believe it's even a Queen song until Freddie Mercury's unmistakable tenor flutters in. Halfway through he aptly belts 'You really know how to set the mood.' This is another track you could essentially converse over, but at some point it'll inevitably steal your attention. Most of the time I have to be coerced into dancing publicly, but Freddie's vocal melody over that smooth bass line would probably do the trick. Especially after a couple shots of Malört."


Arthur Russell — "That's Us/Wild Combination"


"There's a semi-intentional pattern of hybrid tracks here that are not full-on dance songs, but they are if you allow them to be. Which seems fitting for a room containing some potentially shy or stressed-out undergrads who don't know if it's alright to dance just yet. But I can see a couple giving into the groove on this one. I can also picture some smokers on the porch hearing it from inside and going 'Who is this again?'"


New Order — "Age of Consent"


"This is where the music is now officially louder than the conversations revolving around the room. And for the better. There's a reason this track's place in history is irrevocable. New Order accomplish this incredible feat of a beat tethered with a bass line that never really changes, but they never have to. Along with the iconic pairing of those elements is the timeless synth melody I’ll forever be jealous of. The energy of this song is just contagious. Another shot of Malört and now everyone's dancing."


Of Montreal — "Let's Relate"


"Kevin Barnes is an artist in every sense of the word. In fact, of Montreal shows are essentially traveling art exhibits. "Let's Relate" sounds like an art gallery in a nightclub. It's so evidently upbeat, but never shuns away its eccentricity. Barnes' words here are also fitting—'I already like you, I like that you like you, I think that you're great, I want to relate.' You may end up meeting some of the coolest people you'll ever meet in your life at college parties. And It's not always easy to naturally find that connection, but when you do it means that much more. All you really want to do is talk and relate."


Caribou — "Can't Do Without You (Extended Mix)"


"It's getting late and you can't play music too much longer because the downstairs neighbor is starting to get pissed. Might as well go out with a bang. As much as I absolutely love upbeat, 'dancy' songs, I don't typically listen to straight dance music. Caribou creates exceptions for me. Dan Snaith's beloved project consistently proves dance music has the ability to be just as creative and innovative as anything else. He's a huge influence on the way we approach texture and ambient elements when writing our songs. This is specifically the extended mix, because you just need that extra minute to move to."


Mick Jenkins — "Smoking Song" (Ft. BADBADNOTGOOD)


"At this point, it's way past curfew and most people are starting to filter out. But some are still cemented in stimulating conversation and there's bound to be a joint going around at some point. 'Smoking Song' may possibly be the best song to roll that to. Mick Jenkins' hazy, effortless flow on top of BADBADNOTGOOD's sporadic instrumentation makes you feel you're watching them on stage from a dark corner of a speakeasy. And in Chicago, there's a really good chance there's one still open. Just don't blow any reggie his way."


You can listen to Pure Intruders' playlist below.


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