The essential components of a chill session: a playlist for the ears, and a music visualizer for the eyes.

Casual or chaotic, LED lights or a dim lamp, in a (very) small group or online, there is one always essential element of a chill session: a playlist.

Personally, I have a number of playlists for different vibes (DJs, you know what I’m talking about.)

You may wonder: “Why not just put something on the radio, or just put all my favorite songs on shuffle?” Have you ever been listening to an absolutely disgusting beat from Troyboi, and then an Ariana Grande song comes on? I bear no ill will towards any artist (within reason) but it completely throws you out of the moment.

This is especially tragic for those of us who show up mostly for the music exposure and quality speakers.

How to put together the playlist for the ages, according to the ancient art of vibing:

1. Know your audience.

Who’s coming to this shindig (physically and/or virtually): a bunch of stoners, kids from your class that you don’t want to scare off quite yet, the friends you can scream femme anthems with from the car?

Cater to that audience. Think about your interactions with them, the kind of music they’ve nodded along to, the kind of people they are.

If you have several different kinds of friends, kudos to you. It will be a challenge to cater to all of those music tastes. But you can find common ground between them (think techno-pop, R&B, popular songs that still have great beat drops).

2. Do you want to hear and share new music, or stick to what you know?

Sometimes I like to go off the rails, listen to something that I know is within the genre but new to me.

There are advantages and risks to this: You and your squad could find something new and great, something that quiets everyone in mid-sentence as we’re all collectively thinking: “This is a great song.” You might also run into a song so fundamentally bad you knock everyone out of the moment and ruin the vibe.

I leave this to you: I like new music, but I do err on the side of caution. If the party is just getting started and everyone is still pretty aware of what’s going on around them, I’m going to put on something I (and everyone else, hopefully) am comfortable with.

Later on, when the vibe is front and center, then I’ll start playing with new sounds.

3. Understand the buildup, peak, and comedown of a chill session.

This brings us to the wave that is the musical experience. Your playlist is a mirror of this, a story that you’re telling. Quality DJs have mastered this art. But if you’re just setting a playlist up on Soundcloud or Spotify, you can build some semblance of this musical framework anyway.

The beginning of the chill session is just getting everyone warmed up. Start with something a little slower. Don’t give away your absolute bangers right out of the gates. Choose songs that are pleasant, recognizable. Then build up with your playlist with songs that are faster and louder.

The peak of the night should ideally be filled with bone rattling music, either deep house music, EDM, whatever your tastes (and those of your audience) are.

And finally, the comedown should start around when people are getting tired. Play something soothing as people either leave or pass out on your couch (or on their couch at home).

4. Does anyone else get a say in the musical choices for the night?

I’m always a little wary of the person who says: “Can I put on a song?”

First of all, I have put ears and tears into creating the perfect playlist, and now you want to throw that off? Are you going to play some song that reminds you of this moment with your ex that you’re just so nostalgic about because it happened at another party? Are you going to play something that does not fit the vibe at all?

On the other hand, you could get another song to add to your playlist later on. DJs are always looking for new music, and I think that everyone should do that.

Essentially, let the people you trust to manipulate the playlist. If you know they have good taste, then go ahead. If you’re not confident, tell them you’ll listen later.

How to create an all-encompassing musical experience: SYQEL, the music visualizer:

A real live example of SYQEL: The music visualizer.

While the music is absolutely essential, you have the technology to elevate the experience to the next level.

You can blend the audio and visual sensations of the chill session with SYQEL: The music visualizer. To completely encompass your group in the session, tie your senses together using this low-cost tool. While SYQEL can be used just with a radio station, you can take all the tips from above and tie your playlist with SYQEL.

In person, and even from a distance, capture the perfect vibes with your eyes and your ears.

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