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My New Mixtape Seeks Escape from Endless Cycle ‘Running in the Background’

By Cynthia Gross

This reading of Alchemical Records content provides a multimedia experience for our audience while increasing the accessibility of our content to persons with hearing loss, low vision, dyslexia, physical or motor disabilities, or are on the autism spectrum.

With his latest single, “Running in the Background,” Virginia-based indie pop artist My New Mixtape (aka Jarrett Nicolay) explores the tension between reality and illusion in the midst of a world that never slows down. The poignant, affecting track is minimalist to grand effect, showcasing Nicolay’s strong songwriting that shines in its originality and sincerity.

“’Running in the Background’ started as a reference to all of the software and apps on our phones that are constantly doing stuff without us knowing, draining our batteries,” Nicolay explains, referring to the depletion of both our physical devices and internal power sources.

“I think that we, as people, aren’t that different in that we’re living in two different worlds: the physical and the ‘virtual.’ The song explores how we can neglect our analog reality since we have this virtual backup in a sense,” he adds.

Against the backdrop of a melancholy, slow-paced piano riff and steady drumbeat, Nicolay sings, “Eyes closed but there’s so much running / In the background of my mind / All the time.” In juxtaposition to the song’s lyrical theme of continuous motion, the instrumentation of “Running in the Background” casts a nostalgic spell, momentarily suspending time. The result is a track that is warm, tender, and stirring, with a dose of tasteful sarcasm.

In the background of the accompanying music video for My New Mixtape’s latest single, random content runs on an endless cycle, including an Otezla ad for clearer skin, Coursera promo for multiple university programs, and images of a faceless person monotonously consuming content on a mobile phone. The mindless flurry symbolizes the culprit behind the “reason you can’t sleep at night.”

“This song is a bit of a cautionary tale on one level, and on a more personal note, an admission that I’ve kinda checked out on reality since it’s become less and less awesome to check in on it,” Nicolay shares, capturing a sentiment that many people are feeling during this season. 

Still, “Running in the Background” avoids feeling overly bleak despite its analysis of the negative impact of distractions on our productivity and quality of life. Nicolay even includes an expressive guitar solo, noting, “Cuz shit can’t be all doom and gloom!”

Fans of The Beatles and Steely Dan will identify with My New Mixtape’s timeless composition that examines what it means to be human in a world we would rather escape at times. Stay tuned for upcoming releases from this impressive talent and long-time staple of the DMV creative scene.

Follow our Alchemical Weekly YouTube Playlist for more great music featured on the site.

Cynthia Gross

Maryland-based singer-songwriter Cynthia Gross seeks to inspire an awakening to all we are and all we can become. With a passion for language in all of its forms and more than a decade of experience as a professional ghostwriter, she is a light seeker who understands the power of each individual’s voice to create positive, meaningful change.

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