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"what's indie?" he asked

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My father has a half-brother by his father's second marriage. We haven't had much contact, but in the interim between graduation and my leaving the country for university, we went sailing on Lake Yssel together one day. Among other things, he asked me about my taste in music, and some months later, from my eighth-floor shoebox apartment in my newly-adopted city, I made him this mix in response—but I never actually sent it to him.

The original cover art got lost during one of my moves. The front had a photograph of the afternoon sun peeking out from the underpass on Luxemburger Strasse, and the back was a watercolour of sunflowers against a hot pink background.

I listened to this mix a lot in early 2005. The "boho" trend was just breaking through on the high street, and it fitted in well with my personal aesthetic at the time: my affinity with magical realism, my longing for the American West Coast (the nasal, grungy poetics of the indie bands I listened to at the time, which I saw as more accessible than literary intellecualism), and memories of my aunt's apartment, filled with all the things she'd acquired on her travels—the spirit of which I now tried to incorporate in my own home. Frida was a childhood heroine of mine, and I saw stability and comfort in the most feminine and "matronly" side of her self-representation. I wore voluminous layered skirts and peasant blouses and shopped for silver bangles and hand-painted Mexican bowls at the flea market on the parking lot of my high-rise building, and in Amsterdam's Nine Streets on weekend breaks. And all the while, it kept on snowing.

This mix, with its warm guitar sounds, still is a favourite of mine. It still reminds me of this beginning period of trying to cultivate my own vision and stubbornness.