This week, Boston-based artist Leah Giberson delivers a first for us: a music mix compiled from a home office containing a turntable, a tape desk, and a Bose Wave. (Feels futuristic and old-school all at once, doesn’t it?) Take a listen to the sounds that are filling her studio in our newest
What do you listen to while you work? Like most people, it depends what I’m working on. When writing or reading, I really need to minimize distractions, so I often wear my headphones without listening to anything at all. If I’m painting, though, it’s usually a mix of Americana, folk, roots, country, blues, punk, indie rock, and a bit of electrofunk thrown in for good measure. There are also lots of times I end up listening to public-radio programs and podcasts much of the day. If it’s an interesting story, it works just as well as good music to distract the left side of my brain and allow the other side do its thing—plus it makes me feel like I’ve learned a little something about what’s going on in the world despite the isolation of working from home.
How do you listen? My man and I share a studio/office in our apartment. We’ve got a turntable, Bose Wave, and tape deck set up near his desk. He needs the room quiet much of the day for conference calls and writing code, though, so I usually listen to music or radio programs with my Sony headphones connected to my computer.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I begin lots of mornings listening online to a couple local college radio stations, WMBR and WZBC. They both do a good job archiving their shows and playlists, so I can usually track down a song/artist if I missed the name during the show. I tried Pandora for a while, but have recently switched to Spotify and have started checking out Rdio as well.
Does music influence your work? I can’t think of a concrete visual example that I could point to, but music definitely helps me get out of my head and let the painting happen. One thing I have noticed is that I tend to listen to different kinds of music depending on the size of the painting or the level of detail I’m working on. For the smaller pieces and more detailed parts, I like to listen to stuff like Will Oldham, Cat Power, Scout Niblett, Devendra Banhart, or Herman Dune. However, when I’m working on bigger paintings or on large expanses of sky and ground that require lots of repetitive rhythmic brush strokes, I prefer listening to bands like The White Stripes, Gossip, The Kills, Pixies, Battles, Wire, Make-Up, Quintron, or Chromeo. Not only do they make me want to dance while I work, but I often find myself painting to the beat as well.
Who influences your musical taste? I was raised on a lot of Bill Monroe, Loretta Lynn, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and Johnny Cash, and that foundation continues to influence much of my musical taste to this day. I’ve also been graced with friends who have given me the most amazing mixed tapes and CDs over the years complete with handmade covers that were pieces of art themselves. These days, friends usually just share playlists or links to videos on YouTube. The music’s still good, but I gotta say I miss the handmade covers.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I tried to come up with a playlist that would answer this question with a dozen songs instead; but, if I had to choose just one, it would probably be “Little Boxes” by Malvina Reynolds. When people see my paintings, they often assume that I grew up in suburbia. But I was actually raised by hippie artists deep in the woods of New Hampshire and have spent most of my adult life living in a small but sunny apartment near Boston. As a kid, I longed for suburban life and assumed that people lived normal, happy, and predictable lives in those neighborhoods. As an adult, I’ve discovered that the reality is often far more complicated and bittersweet than I ever imagine—but I’ve continued to be captivated by these types of homes and the impossible promises they offer.
Little Room, The White Stripes Tribute
Let’s Build A Home, The White Stripes
Repetition, The Willowz
Kissy Kissy, The Kills
Listen Up!, Gossip
Cabin, The Pack A.D.
Be So Happy, Heartless Bastards
Little Boxes, Devendra Banhart
My Home is Nowhere Without You, Herman Dune
Home, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
True Love Will Find You In The End, Daniel Johnston
Images: Leah Giberson