With a two-year-old son at home and another little one on the way, freelance magazine writer and InStyle contributor Elizabeth Jenkins is on always the move—most recently from the room she used to call her office (which is becoming her son’s new bedroom) to an armoire in the master bedroom that will now serve as her new workspace. Find out what this busy Los Angeles up-and-comer listens to as she crafts stories about interior design, weddings, celebrities, and entertaining for the likes of Redbook, Health, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Food Network Magazine, AisleDash.com, Sunset, and more.
What do you listen to while you work? Unless I’m exhausted and need waking up, I typically put on my “Mellow Mix,” which contains songs by a wide range of artists from Leonard Cohen to Natalie Merchant. All of the tunes have become familiar enough that I can tune them out so they don’t distract me. If the song is too poppy—or peppy, for that matter—I’ll find myself singing along, which isn’t ideal when I’m trying to write.
How do you listen? If my two-year-old is sleeping (which is when I get most of my work done!), I will put in my earphones and listen on my iPod. But if he’s at preschool or at the park with my husband, I’ll go ahead and turn on our teeny-tiny iPod dock that I bought years ago in a Manhattan mall before a trip to the Cayman Islands. (We wanted to be able to listen to music while we sat on our patio drinking island libations and it was the best $75 I ever spent!)
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I sometimes find the iTunes library slow, so if I am trying to figure out the name of a song or who sings it, I usually Google it first and get a chance to listen to a part of the song that way. I also build playlists on both playlist.com and mixpod.com for AisleDash.com (AOL’s wedding website), so I’ve found that those are both good places to listen to favorite tunes.
Does music influence your work? I find songwriting inspiring. I respect artists—particularly country artists, who often tug at the heartstrings in their ballads or come up with a super-clever rhyming line for their livelier tunes. I think Brad Paisley’s lyrics are the wittiest in all of country music (How funny is “Online”?), but I also love the powerful words on the Dixie Chicks last record (“Long Way Around”) and on folk singer Charlotte Kendrick’s album (“North of New York”).
Where do you find music recommendations? My husband, who loves listening to country radio (L.A.’s 105.1), and tells me when he hears a great new song. I also subscribe to “Entertainment Weekly,” “People,” “The New York Times,” and the “The Los Angeles Times” (in addition to about 15 other magazines), and find those four outlets have the best artist profiles and music reviews. I often compare the reviews in EW and People. (If both critics rave, then I’m likely to either buy the whole CD or download a few select songs. I often go months between iTunes purchases, so instead, I have a music wishlist on Amazon.com and I put all of the recommended albums there—with notes to help jog my memory—and then when I have time, I purchase the album off of Amazon or buy a few songs on iTunes.) Since I ask deejays, bands, and music supervisors to create 10-song playlists for AisleDash.com, and then listen to each song online, I often end up purchasing a bunch of the songs they’ve recommended. So far I think I trust Los Angeles deejay Lee Dyson’s musical tastes the most. Thanks to him, I spent a quick $15 on iTunes! Oh, and I can’t forget my dear friend from college, Jill Hare, who has incredible taste in music and often burns CDs for me for my birthday or Christmas. She introduced me to Charlotte Kendrick most recently.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I don’t think it would be fair to compare my work to an established musician. Since I’m still young and relatively new to the magazine industry (6 years now), I would consider myself more of an up-and-coming artist than an established one. I hope that like most up-and-comers, my writing is continually evolving and improving with each project.
31 Today, Aimee Mann
Sweet Pea, Amos Lee
Puddle of Grace, Amy Jo Johnson
Keep Holding On, Avril Lavigne
Displaced, Azure Ray
The Luckiest, Ben Folds
Let Go, Charlotte Kendrick
A Long December, Counting Crows
The Blower’s Daughter, Damien Rice
Babylon, David Gray
Landslide, Dixie Chicks
Such Great Heights, Iron & Wine
Star Mile, Joshua Radin
San Andreas Fault, Natalie Merchant
Sentimental Heart, She & Him
Images: Elizabeth Jenkins