Trip Report Ep017: Curaga

This month’s mix continues the themes from Ep016 and is all about sonic healing through music. Curaga is the strongest healing spell from Kingdom Hearts, a video game series I’ve played since childhood. I thought it was a great representation of what music has been for me after going through a lot in September; I’ve really leaned into using music as a way to process everything that’s been happening in my life. A few ideas came up this month that were particularly relevant for me:

  1. When nothing around you makes sense, listen to the music—it always makes sense
  2. The beat is eternal
  3. Your 20s are a constant balance between intimacy and isolation

A good friend told me that last point, and it was the framework for the A side/B side of this month’s mix, Intima and Insula. Each of the songs I selected for this mix have represented some form of intimacy, isolation, or healing for me, and spending so much time with these songs through working on this mix and getting more into DJing has been very comforting. The lyrics of each song are important and tell a narrative that is representative of my feelings from the past month, so I hope the mix speaks for itself.

The theme for this month originally started off as “The Future,” where I wanted to highlight songs and artists that represented the future of music. While this mix ended up taking a more personal slant, a lot of the songs on here are uniquely genre-bending and come from artists with underrepresented identities. Major inspirations this month come from artists like Yaeji, TSHA, Little Simz, Lil Nas X, Injury Reserve, and a lot of artists from the Ghostly label; these are all artists who are pushing the boundaries with the music they make and unapologetically celebrate their identity in their sound. 

This was also the month where I really began pursuing DJing and decided my DJ name Ifugao. Ifugao is a province of the Philippines next to where my dad is from and also an indigenous group who resisted colonization for hundreds of years. The term means “people from the hill” or “people of the earth,” and the persona represents the identity that I want to celebrate in everything I create.

The Breathtaking Ifugao Rice Terraces of The Philippine Cordilleras
Banaue Rice Terraces in the Ifugao province of the Philippines, considered by some as the 8th wonder of the world

I also made a physical mixtape for this month’s mix which is a hobby I took up during lockdown. It was really fun designing the cover and having a tangible form for the mix, allowing it to exist as a physical journal through music. The images for the cover art are photos I took of the water lilies paintings in the Monet room at the MoMA which really captured the mood of the mix and my September in general. Check them out below and read on for my tracklist breakdown!

Curaga mixtape cover
Curaga mixtape inside art

A-Side: Intima

  1. Lee “Scratch” Perry & The Upsetters — From Creation | 00:00 
    • I’ve been lowkey getting into dub the past couple months thanks to the indoor section of Nowadays during Mr. Sunday. I have a lot of respect for how important dub was for electronic and dance music in general. Lee “Scratch” Perry embodies an artist who unapologetically injected their identity into their music which was way ahead of its time. RIP. 
  2. Little Simz – Gems – Interlude| 01:30
    • I loved how cinematic this interlude sounded from Little Simz excellent new album. I related a lot to the themes of the album and i thought it was a great lead in to the mix. 
  3. PinkPantheress – Passion | 04:15
    • PinkPantheress is one of my favorite new artists and I love how she reimagines UK garage/breakbeats into her viral vibey music. I’ll forever love this song for getting me interested in exploring UK Garage music. 
  4. Nia Archives – (Over)Thinking | 06:00
    • Nia Archives was probably my favorite artist of September. Similarly to PinkPantheress, I love how she reimagines drum & bass/jungle music into a brighter, modern sound. Thanks to Nia I’m now on a major jungle kick for October.
  5. Triathalon – Pressure | 07:45
    • This song worked so well as a transition out of (Over)Thinking; I loved the lyrical mixing.
  6. Yaeji – Therapy | 09:40
    • A song about how creativity is therapy from my most inspiring artist was too easy.
  7. Amindi – Great Again | 12:00
    • Amindi really captures the idea of trying to be and feel better in this song, and it really helped hearing these lyrics during tougher times.
  8. John Glacier – Platoon | 15:00
    • John Glacier’s album SHILOH was my favorite album of September and one of my favorites of the year; the way they blend electronica with lo-fi hip-hop and incredible lyricism captured me in a way a lot of albums haven’t this year. The themes of this album were so relatable that every song could have worked as part of this mix.
  9. The Montclairs, Phil Perry – Dreaming’s Out of Season | 18:00
    • I don’t remember where I found this song but it was a great interlude/change of pace from the run of newer artists/songs. I also really liked the transition into the Ivy Lab song.
  10. Ivy Lab – When I Go | 20:33
    • Ivy Lab was another artist I found this month that blew my mind. Their drippy, bass-heavy music generally sounds like what I wish more hip-hop sounded like, but this song is more chill and fit the vibe of the mix perfectly.
  11. Isaiah Rashad (feat. Amindi) – All Herb | 23:50
    • I loved the new Isaiah Rashad album and this song was a standout for me; I try not to repeat artists for these mixes but Amindi’s part was too good to leave out.
  12. Hiatus Kaiyote – All the Words We Don’t Say | 27:15
    • Great album from a great band. I loved how driving this song was into the last stretch of this side of the mix.
  13. Frankie Knuckles, Jamie Principle – Your Love | 31:40
    • I was learning a lot about the history of electronic music this past month so I had to include this legendary song from Frankie Knuckles. Frankie Knuckles is the reason pretty much every other song in this mix exists due to his influence on the creation of house music, so I had to pay my respects. RIP.
  14. King Princess, Avalon Emerson – PAIN (Avalon Emerson’s Half Dub) | 34:40
    • This was a late addition as I started getting into Avalon Emerson right at the end of September after seeing her at Nowadays nonstop, but this remix is awesome and worked well with the Frankie Knuckles song.
  15. Hana Vu – Maker | 39:56
    • This was also a late addition after I started exploring some of the artists from the Ghostly International label. The themes of this song were really fitting.
  16. 박혜진Park Hye Jin – i jus wanna be happy | 40:44
    • One of my favorite new artists with a pretty self-explanatory song.
  17. Audrey Nuna – 80deg | 43:36
    • Another one of my favorite new artists! It was really cool to include these three songs at the end from up and coming Asian artists. I love how this song sounded layered with the previous track.

B-side: Insula

  1. Soul Bros. Inc., Mr. Saturday Night – Pyramid (Mixed) | 00:00
    • I clearly love the Nowadays and Mr. Sunday vibe, so I was excited to include this song from the Mr. Saturday Night mixed album. I thought it sounded like a great opener.
  2. Thee Sacred Souls – Will I See You Again? | 02:25
    • It’s kind of hard to believe this band formed only two years ago because this song sounds so retro, but I thought it was a great way to ease into the more modern tracks that come after it.
  3. quickly, quickly – Everything is Different to Me | 03:30
    • Another new artist from the Ghostly International label whose music hit different for me this month.
  4. Ombachi, Chloe Hart – BREEZE | 05:30
    • Great track from Ombachi and Chloe Hart. I interviewed Ombachi and the Oklahoma-based collective O2Worldwide earlier this year for ASLUT ZINE and it’s been so cool to hear all the next level music they’ve been putting out. The song has an amazing beat switch but to keep the mix under 45 I lyrically mixed in the “I don’t want to go home” hook with the Vince Staples track “TAKE ME HOME,” which worked really well.
  5. Vince Staples, Fousheé – TAKE ME HOME | 07:30
    • This was one of my favorite tracks from the new Vince Staples album, which is one of my favorite albums of the year. Vince Staples continues to put out music that pushes the boundaries of hip-hop and I have a lot of respect for his honest, unapologetic attitude in his music.
  6. JPEGMAFIA – living single | 09:42
    • Peggy is another artist that continuously pushes the boundaries of hip-hop and his interpolation of Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” sounded so cool with the lo-fi energy of the track.
  7. Tirzah – Sink In | 12:00
    • Tirzah makes the vibiest of vibey music, and this song is no exception. I love the way she sings on this track and the lyrics hit hard.
  8. Injury Reserve – Superman That | 13:45
    • This is a pretty emotional mix but this may be the most emotionally brutal song on the entire mix. This is the future of hip-hop.
  9. L’Rain – Find It | 18:58
    • Thanks to one of my best friends Anmol for sharing this artist with me. This song has one of the best beat switch/build-ups I’ve ever heard and I had to include it on here.
  10. Lil Nas X – LIFE AFTER SALEM | 21:30
    • In my opinion, Lil Nas X’s new album solidified him as the next hip-hop legend. His music is such a breath of fresh air compared to how same-y a lot of hip-hop music sounds nowadays, and this song in particular blew my mind when I heard it. I immediately knew it had a place in the mix.
  11. Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) | 25:10
    • This song needs no explanation. I’m just glad it transitioned so well from the Lil Nas X song.
  12. The Sanctuary – hold on | 27:56
    • I love how dynamic this song is, and it’s a great representation of how emotionally rich techno music can be. I’ve been mixing with it a lot so its spot in the mix is well-deserved.
  13. Rachika Nayar – Clarity | 31:00
    • I saw and heard Rachika Nayar’s incredible Open Call audio-visual experience at The Shed earlier this summer, and it was one of the most amazing creative performances I’ve ever experienced. Since then I knew I wanted to incorporate her music into one of my mixes and this was the perfect vibe to do so. This was one of the songs I was listening to as I was reflecting in the Monet room and matched the mood of the paintings so well.
  14. TSHA – Sister | 31:26
    • I’ll never forget listening to this song while looking at the water lilies painting in the MoMA. It’s such a beautiful song and ultimately represents the healing nature music has for me.
  15. Mix Factory, DJ XTC – Take Me Away (XTC Come Hard Mix) | 35:23
    • I heard this song as the closer for Damon Bradley’s set at Basement, and that set and this song in particular solidified my decision to pursue DJing. I was so inspired by Damon Bradley’s story as a minority balancing passions in both science and music, and I could absolutely feel how personal his set was. Every song sounded like it was consuming itself in its dark techno chaos, but there was always a ray of hope shining through that culminated into this heavenly closing track. After hearing that I knew I wanted to make it a focal ending point of this mix.
  16. Jamie Jones, Katy B, Nookie – Sound of Music | 37:19
    • This song was part of the beginning of my drum & bass/jungle kick and sort of acts like a teaser of the vibes I’ve been on in October. It sounded really great looped over Take Me Away and I’m really happy with how it turned out.
  17. Kacey Musgraves – gracias a la vida | 40:40
    • This is the “end credits” song of the mix, but it has a lot of importance to the mix. The lyrics are bittersweetly beautiful but the backstory is tragic, as the original artist Violeta Parra committed suicide after putting it out. I wouldn’t have known about this song if it weren’t for Kacey’s cover, which does the song so much justice with its distorted, raw energy.

This was a really important mix to me and probably the most personal one I’ve made so far. I’m very grateful for this music for healing me this month and helping me refocus my energy in healthy, productive ways. If you’re ever going through something difficult or challenging, I hope this mix can mend your soul in the same way it’s mended mine.