Balance, Design, Products
June 1, 2011
When he’s not spinning records or tinkering with and/or riding his bicycle around town, Midwesterner-turned-New-Yorker Jonathan Rahmani spends his time working as a Sr. Designer for HUGE in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Pop on your headphones for a little dose of what’s currently making up his work playlist.
What do you listen to while you work? Ever since my college-radio and party-throwing days, I’ve had a pretty strong taste for dance and electronic music. Techno, House, Disco, etc. are in my ears on the regular. I’m always looking for something I haven’t heard yet, so as a result, these genres are usually what are playing while I work. As much as I enjoy the details and thoughtfulness that live in quality dance music, I think most people can appreciate what a steady beat and rhythm can bring to working long days or nights.
May 18, 2011
Take a quick look around Designers.MX and you’ll immediately know why we approached its co-founder, designer/creative producer Blake Allen, to be part of our weekly series. Kick back with his diverse Playlist—a mixture of movie tunes and a little gran cassa you could probably easily hear playing through the halls of his office in Nashville.
What do you listen to while you work? Everything. (Jazz, Instrumental, Rap, Country, Folk.)
How do you listen? It varies. Usually when I’m at the office, I use Bose headphones, but we’ve set up a “jukebox” (iMac) with all of our music and play it through the office. When I’m working from home, I use an AirPort Express with my surround sound. Definitely my favorite way to listen to music.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I follow plenty of music blogs and share new music with friends. That is the reason Josh Sullivan and I started Designers.MX. To help find and share new music.
Does music influence your work? Without a doubt. It helps me filter out other distractions and get lost in the exploration of design.
Who influences your musical taste? Fellow designers. We share music in the office, which introduces me to new music that I wouldn’t normally listen to.
What song or artist best represents the work you create? Claire de Lune. Classic.
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
November 3, 2010
It should be no surprise that this week’s Playlist from Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova—our favorite curiosity cicerone and curator of eclectic interestingness—is loaded with musical resources and discoveries we’ve not yet covered on Lifework. Take a moment to get out your thinking cap, then sit back and enjoy a few tunes from her constantly changing workspace.
What do you listen to while you work? If I am to bill myself a curator, I kind of have to walk the walk in all aspects of life. And music is a big part of mine, so I take great care to curate specific thematic playlists for myself (and, occasionally, others). I think music has a tremendous impact on your mood, mindset, and creative outlook, and playlists are to music what “functional beverages” are to drinking—a potent blend of ingredients designed to serve a specific physiological or psychological purpose. I have different playlists for writing long-form content (some classical music, some drawn-out indie tunes), for tweeting, for research, for technical work, for design.
I also have a few podcasts I listen to at work every once in a while—I really like Coverville, a treasure trove of cover music. I love CD Baby’s 60′s Pop Podcast. NPR’s All Songs Considered is a staple. I’m quite the music geek, so most of the emerging artists they feature aren’t really new to me, but the show is beautifully curated and narrated.
How do you listen? Headphones,always. Playing from my laptop. In fact, I can’t work or concentrate without headphones on. Even if there’s nothing playing. It’s just how I’ve wired my brain to signal focus time.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I actually take a lot of pleasure in curating my own playlists. But, on occasion, I like the sort of controlled serendipity that recommendation engines offer. Pandora, every so often, manages to surprise me in wonderful ways. Stereomood also has some neat thematic mood playlists. I’ve been getting more and more into Spotify.
Does music influence your work? Absolutely. It’s a less direct influence than saying a specific song or album is reflected in a specific piece of writing. But I certainly have certain types of music that I use to get myself in certain creative spaces and mindsets. For example, I have a playlist I use for long-form writing, which features some classical standbys—Vivaldi, mostly—and a bit of Eastern-inspired indie music. I’m particularly taken with Taken By Trees’ latest album, East of Eden. That’s Victoria Bergman’s solo project. She’s probably best known as the female vocal on Peter Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks.” For this album, she traveled to Pakistan and incorporated a lot of Pakistani folk influences into her signature Scandinavian vocal sensibility. Beautiful work.
And when I do research for a story, I like to dig out some of those dusty vintage gems— Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Shirley Basey—often with a modern remix twist.
Then for my Twitter time, which is really quite a lot of time, I listen to incredibly eclectic stuff across my entire music library—from ethnic-inspired dub and pop like Balkan Beatbox and Fool’s Gold to jazz classics like Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong to some indie favorites, any list of which would be tragically incomplete. But a few all-time favorites include Emiliana Torrini, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Zee Avi, Angus & Julia Stone, Federico Aubele, and Kings of Convenience.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? I don’t really read any of the music blogs. Some of the new music I discover is actually through some sort of recommendation algorithm based on my existing likes. I use Amazon’s recommendations quite a bit; I find they hit the spot. Pandora, of course, is also great for that. But I’m a big believer in human-curated content, so the majority of new discoveries come from a handful of well curated new music podcasts I subscribe to: NPR’s All Songs Considered, KCRW and KEXP’s song of the day podcasts, and Wired Underwire.
As far as taste goes, though, I can’t really say anything influences mine. After all, these recommendations and new music discoveries are only effective to the extent that they reflect my existing taste, which is pretty static in terms of the actual musical qualities of what appeals to me. Certain types of rhythms, a certain lyrical sensibility, a few very specific touches like handclaps and vocal harmonies. You can outsource discovery but you can never outsource taste—what you actually like, what makes you happy, rather than what you broadcast liking as a badge of the type of person you are, your brand. Music should always be about what makes you happy.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? Probably something very diverse and eclectic like Thievery Corporation. They mix elements of acid jazz, dub, Middle-Eastern, bossa nova, lounge, even reggae, and are very much about creative collaborations—their roster of guest vocalists spans an incredibly wide spectrum of talent, from David Byrne to Pam Bricker to The Flaming Lips to Emiliana Torrini. That’s what Brain Pickings is all about—the cross-pollination of disciplines and ideas as a petri dish for creativity.
Walk in the Sky, Bonobo (ft. Bajka)
Where Do I Begin (awayTEAM remix), Shirley Bassey
Like a Child, Junior Boys
Sweet Tides, Thievery Corporation (ft. Lou Lou)
On the Radio, Regina Spektor
Keep It Quiet, Ra Ra Riot
Day By Day, Taken By Trees
Hold Heart, Emiliana Torrini
Failure, Kings of Convenience
Strictly Rule, Vetiver
Made Up Love Song #43, Guillemots
Sweet Darlin’, She & Him
Blue Skies, Noah and the Whale
Images: Maria Popova
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
September 8, 2010
Get ready: this new mix from Bon Appétit contributing editor (and Lifework writer and creator of The Foodinista blog) Heather John is so funky-fun, it may inspire you to start dancing at your desk (and perhaps even inspire you to grab a nice glass of vino or two—after hours, of course).
What do you listen to while you work? Mostly to Bowie, but I also listen to a lot of bluesy and rockabilly inspired stuff, and I definitely have a thing for 60s/70s French and Japanese chanteuses. It’s so pretty. I write about wine and I mean, who doesn’t enjoy tasting a bunch of French rosés to a little retro J-pop? When I’m writing, though, it has to be stone-cold silence.
How do you listen? We recently remodeled our garage into a home office and the acoustics are so harsh, so I’m still figuring that out. For now, from my computer and it’s less than perfect. I am lobbying to move our turntable in here.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? My husband used to work in the digital music business so he’s always trying to introduce me to the latest new thing, something about which I usually have zero clue.
Does music influence your work? I definitely feel like mood influences my work, and music influences my mood. Last week, I downloaded the new Eminem after WWD reported that Catherine Denueve was spotted with a copy in her basket—a woman who can do no wrong—but I don’t think anyone wants me to be listening to that while I write, right? I went for a run instead.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? My dad’s vinyl collection, which I’ve inherited (by which I mean, heisted). I grew up listening to a lot of Stones, Flying Burrito Brothers and Tom Waits—and classical, my mother comes from a family of professional classical musicians. For new discoveries—often of forgotten tracks—I turn to Oscar Garza’s excellent blog, to the sublime.
What song or artist best represents the work you create? Little Old Wine Drinker, Me by Dean Martin
Comment te dire adieu?, Françoise Hardy
Shake Sugaree, Elizabeth Cotten
Blind Love, Tom Waits
Some Girls, The Rolling Stones
Bohemian Like You, The Dandy Warhols
Five Years, David Bowie
Guess I’m Doing Fine, Beck
Don’t Let It Bring You Down, Neil Young
Mary Jane’s Last Dance, Tom Petty
Living for the City, Stevie Wonder
Cosmic Dancer, T-Rex
The Flower of Carnage, Meiko Kaji
Images: Heather John
Balance, Design, Technology
August 25, 2010
Annie Wharton spends her mornings writing, her afternoons at The Company (the gallery where she’s a director), and her evenings cooking or working on curatorial projects. She also paints and creates videos. And since she’s in LA, she spends a ton of time on the road. Here’s what’s playing through the speakers in her car.
What do you listen to while you work? Since I’m a multi-hyphenate (gallerist/artist/curator/writer), it varies. When I write, I prefer ambient music without words so I can focus on creating my own editorial, and at the gallery there many times video works are playing their own soundtracks. When I’m installing an exhibition and getting my hands dirty, there’s a west coast hip hop vernacular to my taste, and while in the studio painting, my mix-tapes run the gamut from Air to Biggie Smalls to John Coltrane to Elliot Smith to Seabear.
How do you listen? (Headphones, speaker system on computer, radio, iPod…) All of the above.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I like Jango.com. Sigrid Sandstrom (one of the artists we represent at The Company) has a brother who started his own Pandora-equivalent website and it’s really good.
Does music influence your work? Absolutely. Above is still from a video I made using only existing ambient noise, the majority of which being screeching brakes and the songs “Pony” by Ginuwine and Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” blasting from a nearby car on K-DAY (LA-based old school hip hop station). (Image title: Annie Wharton, Magellan Hollywood, 2010)
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? Our awesome gallery assistants at The Company are great at recommending music, and I spend a lot of time looking at art videos on Vimeo or YouTube, which usually eventually lead me to music videos. My father is a guitarist; so even in utero, I was exposed to excellent music. Music is an intrinsic element to most of the important moments in my life, and there is always a soundtrack running in my mind. I am terrible at names, but I will probably remember what song was playing when we met.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? Wow, that is quite a challenging question and one that feels a little odd for me to answer. John Lennon comes to mind as someone whose music was appreciated by the masses, but who marked his own path and wasn’t afraid to try new things or create work outside of the mainstream or what the public expected.
Bright Lit Blue Skies, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
The Chauffeur, Duran Duran
The Passenger, Iggy Pop
I Feel Cream, Peaches
Walking on the Moon, The Police
Landslide, Sin Fang Bous
I Got 5 on It, Luniz
Alejandro, Lady Gaga (there is a very sweet backstory here involving this music video and dancing to it with someone via Skype)
Today Was a Good Day, Ice Cube
Warm Leatherette, The Normal
Don’t Fear the Reaper, BOC
Images: Annie Wharton
Balance, Design, Technology
August 4, 2010
I truly think you don’t get to know somebody until you get to peek at the music they listen to on a regular basis. That’s why I was more than excited that Lifework editor (and Australian native) Cerentha Harris agreed to do this week’s Playlist. I am really digging her list (and NOT just because she’s my boss) (honest!)—especially because it’s introduced me to some goodness from Down Under like Missy Higgins, You Am I and Tex Perkins. Take a listen (and thanks, Cerentha!).
What do you listen to while you work? Music carries me through the mornings. All my blog writing and editing happens between 9am and 2pm. There’s a lot to pack in so I have to be careful with my time. I’ve found I work better when there’s music playing. If I’m trying to write I need something that’s not too distracting. If I’m researching, I’m happy to listen to something loud and crazy. Anything to keep me engaged and stop me from wandering. There is definitely a tendency when working at home to wander. The view from my office is distracting, I’ve tried working outside but it’s just too bright.
How do you listen? I am a serious Mac fan. I edit this blog using a 13-inch MacBook Pro, but when I’m at my desk I plug the laptop into a big screen. I love having two screens going at once. I keep my email open on one and then blog on the other screen. The Apple monitor was too pricey so I went with a 24-inch Dell with an attached speaker—nothing high-tech, really, but the music sounds just fine to me. We’ve got a Bose Lifestyle home theatre system, which stores all our CDs and plays the radio and is wired to play all over the house. I listen to that sometimes too.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? Pandora. Either that or I listen to music that I’ve got stored on iTunes. Most of that is stuff my husband has bought on Amazon. He is the music person in the family and I get the majority of my new music from him.
Does music influence your work? It definitely influences my mood. I enjoy the time at my desk more when there’s a good song playing.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I’d love to say something clever and smart—some jazz icon that will deeply impress everyone, but that’s just not true. I think instead it’s a Ben Lee song, or maybe Missy Higgins. An Australian, with some soul, talented, perhaps a little earnest at times, edging towards something interesting and laced with a good dose of irony!
Blue, Lucinda Williams
For Today I Am a Boy, Antony and the Johnsons
Wish You Well, Bernard Fanning
Heart Skipped a Beat, The xx
Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois, Sufjan Stevens (the entire Illinoise is incredible)
Kiss Me on the Bus, The Replacements
The Sound of White, Missy Higgins (my daughter’s favourite song)
Rise Up, Ben Lee
Christobel, Joan As Police Woman
You Can’t Hold the Hand of a Rock and Roll Man, Okkervil River
Ahead of the Curve, Monsters of Folk
Heavy Heart, You Am I
100 Days, 100 Nights, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Sex, The Necks
Miss You Love, Silverchair
Oh My God, Whatever, Etc., Ryan Adams
Empire State of Mind, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
Shape Shifter, Local Natives
Horchata, Vampire Weekend
She’s a Friend of Mine, Tex Perkins (and also You’re Too Beautiful)
Straight to Hell, Lily Allen
Deathly, Aimee Mann
Me and You, She and Him
Black Sand (Album Version), Jenny Lewis
California Stars, Billy Bragg and Wilco
Throw Your Arms Around Me, Hunters & Collectors
Images: Cerentha Harris
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
July 28, 2010
François Chambard has never owned an iPod. Nor has he ever had a CD, a tape, or a record collection. But this founder of Brooklyn’s UM Project sure does know how to make a mean music mix. Check it out some of his recommendations (we think it’s the perfect list for the summertime).
What do you listen to while you work? All kinds of music. My tastes are very eclectic, but maybe “eclectic” is too much of a fancy word. A mish-mash really. I have never been a music guy so I am not sure if I am a good reference. I do not have an iPod, never had CDs, cassettes or LPs. I guess I never had the patience and time to grow and groom a music collection.
How do you listen? From the computer with speakers. Above is a picture of how we tried to make to look our cheap speakers look fancy with a piece of leftover bent ply (pictured top).
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I love the convenience and accessibility of Internet radio. I always end up listening to Radio Nova from Paris. I often go to Wefunk from Montréal and other Internet stations. One of my recent favorites is Attention Span, a jazz station.
Does music influence your work? It is hard to speak about a direct influence. It is more about energy level. I spend most of my time at the studio. Sometimes I need a boost; sometimes I need to be soothed. Just two random examples: The Specials will pump me up when I start to get tired. Beth Orton will help me stay in the zone, in that very special moment when you are so absorbed with your own work that you lose sense of time.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I am not sure which musician or song it would be, but there are specific instruments or sounds that I really relate to. Often those are sounds that have a spatial and spacey quality. In other words, sounds that have almost a 3D quality, which define a space in which I want to live and dream. For example, there is a recent version of “Summer Madness” by Kool and the Gang with a deep, floating synthesizer sound. I am totally addicted to it. I want to be part of that space. In Paris, there is this giant sphere at the Museum of Science and Industry (La Villette) with an ever-changing space-age sound rotating around it, composed by genius sound designer Louis Dandrel. The sound bounces back on the sphere and on the reflecting water pool around it and it is totally mesmerizing. Again, it defines more of a space than a sound, and I’d love my work (and myself) to be in it and not come back.
Everybody Loves the Sunshine, Roy Ayers
Je Bois, Boris Vian
Aeroplanes, Serge Gainsbourg
Reality and Fantasy, Raphael Galuzzi/Gilles Peterson
Too Young To Die, Jamiroquai
Ashes To Ashes, David Bowie
Dear God 2.0, Roots/Monster of Folk
L’irréel, Alain Bashung
Blue Monday, New Order
Lady Day and John Coltrane (and the most of the “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” album), Gil Scott-Heron
Private Life, Grace Jones
You Can Have Watergate Just Gimme Some Bucks And I’ll Be Straight, Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s
Images: Francis Dzikowski / Esto
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
July 21, 2010
Color, photography, and art make up Leslie Shewring’s neck of the World Wide Web in her bright and airy blog, A Creative Mint. The Los Angeles resident is currently summering as a guest writer over at Decor8. Between gigs we asked her to tell us about the music that inspires her.
What do you listen to while you work? I listen Carla Bruni, Francois Hardy, Jack Johnson, New Order, Bebel Gilberto, Allison Krauss, Low Stars (they only have one CD, I think, but I really like it), Jay-Z, Snow Patrol, Coldplay, Charlie Haden, Pat Metheny, Ray Lamontagne, Pete Yorn, and The White Stripes.
How do you listen? I listen either to an iPod attached to a stereo or to CDs playing through a stereo. Yes, I still like buying CDs!
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? ITunes would be the favorite for online music. Amoeba Music is great for CDs and I have been pleasantly surprised with music I have bought at the register at Starbucks.
Does music influence your work? I see music as a mood influencer/enhancer when I am working. I cannot show you tangible evidence of how music has shaped my work, but it does have an influence.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? I hear about music when I listen to KCRW. I use to love Morning Becomes Eclectic with Nic Harcourt before he stepped down a couple years ago. I listened to that show pretty religiously for years. Friends (especially the younger ones) and family also introduce me to new music.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? Oh my word, that is a difficult question. I suppose my work is more calming and feminine…maybe the soundtrack to Marie Antoinette.
Quelqu’un m’a dit, Carla Bruni
LA Forever, Low Stars
Warning Sign, Coldplay
No Other Way, Jack Johnson
Ceremony, New Order
The Long Way Around, The Dixie Chicks
Death and All His Friends, Coldplay
Fighting on the Stairs, The Frames
Young Forever, Jay-Z
Chocolate, Snow Patrol
Doesn’t Mean Anything, Alicia Keys
Closet, Pete Yorn
Images: Leslie Shewring
Balance, Design, Technology
July 14, 2010
LA-based artist Treasure Frey draws with pen and ink and paints with gouache and cut paper in little pieces. Her thoughtful, simple (but detailed) work can be seen here—and the music that influences it can be seen right here.
Do you listen to music while you work? I listen to Simon & Garfunkel, Sigur Rós, Explosions In The Sky, The Flaming Lips, Devendra Banhart, Cat Power, Andrew Bird, and Beirut.
How do you listen? From my computer.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I went through a Pandora phase, but now I can’t seem to log on anymore—but when I did. it turned me on to old Hawaiian folk music
Does music influence your work? I think music helps me from not over-thinking my work—it helps me relax. I used to listen to more melancholy music that put me in a more somber mood—I had to change my soundtrack because I found the music was influencing was my work.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? My dad was my first to influence my musical taste—he had all the great 60′s music lying around. Now my fiancé is a big influence—he seems to know so many different types of music.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? This is a hard question because I have many different styles of art making. I would not want to limit myself to one song or one musician. Sometimes I feel more like Simon & Garfunkel, and other times I feel more like The Flaming Lips.
Waitin’ for Superman, The Flaming Lips
Gong, Sigur Rós
Hoppipolla, Sigur Rós
The Sounds of Silence, Simon & Garfunkel
Remember Me As A Time Of Day, Explosions In The Sky
Santa Maria de Feira, Devendra Banhart
Catch the Wind, Donovan
Ave Maria (after J.S. Bach), Amy Butler & Mary Jane Newman
Sovay, Andrew Bird
He Was A Friend Of Mine, Cat Power
The White Whale, Beirut
A Sunday Smile, Beirut
Images: Treasure Frey
Balance, Design, Products, Technology
July 7, 2010
Kristina Klarin is a color fanatic—and it’s evident in the cheery work she churns out from her studio in Milan (see her current collection of chunky wooden necklaces here and her decorative mushroom collection here). She took some time just before vacation to tell us a little about music and how it inspires her.
Do you listen to music while you work? It varies with the task that I was working on. If I’m working on something new or doing research on trends or colors, I usually don’t listen to the music because I don’t want to be distracted. I prefer to switch on TV in the other room just to have some working companion, so usually while I was writing down my ideas, Mrs. Fletcher was successfully solving homicides in the other room of our apartment.
How do you listen? I use the headphones to listen to my iPod.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I use Deezer a lot and also Jamendo when I have more time. I like the site because it gives independent musicians the opportunity to publish, share, and promote their music as well as the opportunity for us to enjoy them.
Does music influence your work? I really like to match the music with what I’m working on. I put on the music once I get the initial ideas of color palettes and materials, etc. For example, there was Vivaldi for my spring necklace collection and Maria Pradera for the summer ones. In addition, I go on YouTube to listen and watch music videos that have similar themes with my collection. Music helps me to construct a better working environment, stay focused on my plans, and inspire me with new idea.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? Well, recommendations sometimes come from magazines, sometimes come from friends, and sometimes comes from my husband. Because I’m interested in traditional textiles and costumes from all over the world, I find very interesting music while doing research on these elements. That traditional music from different countries often has influence on my musical taste.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I really like a large variety of music, and it would be very difficult to actually pick out one song or musician that represents everything!
Sebastian, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
The Ship Song, Nick Cave
Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?, Moby
Hope There’s Someone, Antony & the Johnsons
La Chanson des Vieux Amants, Jacques Brel
Le Banquet, Yann Tiersen
Gnossienne No.1, Erik Satie
Postcards from Italy, Beirut
Blue Tears, Black Heart Procession
Space Oddity, David Bowie
Images: Kristina Klarin