Make Me a Mixtape: Black Plastic's Dystopian Throwback Medley

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 dark electronic artist and graphic designer, Kevin Grady, aka Black Plastic, who gives us a medley for a goth club set in a dreary, dystopian future.

Photo by Matthew Reeves

Back in April, Kevin Grady, aka Black Plastic, released his second studio album Club Grotesque, immersing listeners in an eerie realm of dark electronica with elements of synth-pop and post-punk tied together with striking production. The twelve-track LP lives up to its title by combining heavy dance beats with an atmosphere of uncanny dread. With cuts like "Savage," Black Plastic’s sound boldly pushes darkwave dance music past the limits of the present, while pulsating rhythms punctuate experimental synths on tracks like "Bite." Keeping his face covered by a black screen helmet, the electronic artist shrouds himself in mystery and apprehension. The threads of doom throughout Club Grotesque along with Black Plastic's innovative style inspired the scenario for this mixtape. Our very own time machine hurls us a century or so into a grim dystopia and through the doors of a goth club where he's performing a set. While his own music fits right in at this futuristic club, the young cyber-punks in the crowd don't know much about any dark tunes released before 2100. Get on your dancing shoes, stay hydrated, and look undead for Black Plastic's medley of semi-gothic essentials.

Dance Music for Vampires

Virgin Prunes — "Love Lasts Forever"

"Some classic 20th century goth to start the set—Dublin's Virgin Prunes, fronted by Gavin Friday. These guys were close buddies with U2 before they all were famous, but the Prunes took a darker, more experimental route as U2 rose to international superstardom. I've always thought of Gavin Friday as Bono's artistic conscience. Here's one of their more accessible songs."

The Knife — "Silent Shout"

"Shifting to some haunting early 21st century electronic music now—one of the best tracks by the Swedish brother and sister duo, The Knife. This whole album had a wonderfully dark vibe that I absolutely love. In fact, I think they even used to perform this album live in the dark. Spooky!"

Alan Vega — "Nike Soldier"

"Suicide have had a big influence on Black Plastic—their raw, electronic proto-punk was way ahead of its time. So I was so excited recently when a new album of never-before-released songs by the late, great Alan Vega of Suicide was released. It contains this monster song."

Danny Brown — "Really Doe" [ft. Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul & Earl Sweatshirt]

"No collection of dark music would be complete without Joy Division, but they're a bit too on the nose for this mixtape. Instead, here's a track by rapper Danny Brown from his album called Atrocity Exhibition, which was named after the Joy Division song (which itself was borrowed from the J. G. Ballard novel of the same name). Turns out Danny Brown is a huge Ian Curtis fan. Who knew?"

Sextile — "Disco"

"Sextile is from Los Angeles, led by founding members Brady Keehn and Melissa Scaduto. This track has been on constant play in my house throughout the pandemic, making me long for the lights and music of underground nightclubs. Under the name Panther Modern, Keehn recently has been putting out some of the best, most intense electronic music I've heard in ages. Highly recommended, kids."

Cold Cave — "Confetti"

"Cold Cave is kind of like the mutant offspring of New Order and Sisters of Mercy—a good thing in my book. I'd be hard pressed to name a band I've enjoyed more over the past decade. This is one of their best. Plus it contains some sage advice: "It's important that evil people look good on the outside."

International Party — "Gothic Girl"

"A little fun to end the mixtape, courtesy of the decidedly ungoth German DJ trio International Pony (featuring DJ Koze, one of my favorites). Sample lyrics: "Hey little gothic girl, watch out, you might get a sun tan."

Stream Black Plastic's mixtape below.