You may know Markos Moulitsas as the founder and publisher of the progressive political community Daily Kos. But did you know that he’s also an accomplished pianist? Just before his trip to Austin for this year’s South by Southwest festival, he gave us a look at how music plays a part in his life.
What do you listen to while you work? Depends on my mood. Anything from punk like Bad Religion and Ramones, to Bach Brandenburg Concertos or Chopin Waltzes, to new country like Rascal Flatts and Sugarland, to Latin music like Juan Luis Guerra and Carlos Vives.
How do you listen? Either on my laptop, or if I’m alone at home, I’ll power up the stereo. I also play music, so I’ll take quick mental breaks tickling the ivories. (Check out some stuff Markos recorded a long time ago here.) Below is a picture of my living room, focusing on my piano. The green chair in the background is where I do most of my work.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I get all my music via iTunes these days, though I love Sirius satellite radio as a way to expand my musical horizons. It’s great having so many genres available at my fingertips.
Does music influence your work? Can you show me an example? It doesn’t influence my political work, no. But it certainly plays an important role in my own personal life. Latin music reminds me of my cultural roots—I love to dance salsa and met my wife in a tango class. Country music speaks to my love of family and country. As a classically trained pianist, I grew up listening to and playing Bach, Mozart, Chopin, and most of the classic classics.
Where do you find music recommendations? I find new music in large part through satellite radio. I’m also a big fan of the iPhone app Shazam. If I hear something that I like while I’m out and about, the app tells me exactly what it is I’m listening to. But of course, the older I get, the more locked in my playlist becomes. But rather than look for additional artists in familiar genres, I force myself to expand into new musical niches. For example, since my existing playlist started sounding too derivative, I’ve started exploring jazz.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? I’d be punk rock, like Bad Religion—opinionated, in your face, unrelenting, and not always in tune with mainstream wisdom. But still fun.
Brandenburg, Black Violin
Welcome to the Future, Brad Paisley
Yes!, Chad Brock
God Love Her, Toby Keith
Los Amores, Jandy Feliz
Amor de Locos, Jandy Feliz
Desi Girl, Shankar Mahadevan
Pork and Beans, Weezer
Ready to Fall, Rise Against
Re-Education (Through Labor), Rise Against
One in Every Crowd, Montgomery Gentry
Peel Me a Grape, Diana Krall
I’m Yours, Jason Mraz
Haven’t Met You Yet, Michael Buble
Fly Away, Erasure
Carito, Carlos Vives
Help I’m Alive, Metric
Pobre Diabla, Michael Stuart
Misery Business, Paramore
First Train Home, Imogen Heap
My Front Porch Looking In, Lonestar
Piano image: Markos Moulitsas. Portrait: Bram Muller