How does jack-of-all-trades Sophie Donelson reward herself as she writes from her Cobble Hill, Brooklyn home? Find out in our latest playlist from this design writer (look for her in mags like House Beautiful), lifestyle-brand consultant, and EditorTV host for The Editor At Large.
What do you listen to while you work? Nothing! I’ve never been capable of listening to music while I write, but thankfully, I also spend a lot of my day brainstorming, researching, and reporting, all of which I can do while listening to music. Hip-hop and electronic tracks are mainstays, but I also love Motown, reggae and indie bands. It’s actually music videos that I obsess about all day. I watch them as a reward, lIke, OK, if I write this lead, I get to watch the new Kanye video. They usually rev me up enough to finish my work and move on to more fun things.
How do you listen? My MacBook Pro speakers or Bose sound dock and, when I’m out and about, an iPod Nano with an obnoxious shiny pink case.
Does music influence your work? When I was in high school I wrote a poem influenced by Juliana Hatfield’s “Spin the Bottle” from the Reality Bites soundtrack. It was a relationship allegory in which my boyfriend and I were balls on a pool table. How terrible is that? Today I’m inspired by lyricism, I play certain Lil Wayne or Kanye West tracks over and over again because every listen reveals another layer of rhymes or references. I’m consistently inspired by the transgressive ways vocabulary is used in rap. Who isn’t at least a little amused the first time you hear Kanye rhyme esophagus with sarcophagus? That said, I have a pretty high tolerance for crude rap lyrics.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? Blogs, Twitter, and via my husband, Greg, and my bf Matty, both of whom actively seek fresh songs, and sometimes even my favorite spin instructor, who is prone to leading the occasional all-Led Zeppelin or all-Stevie Wonder ride. I rely on The Awl contributor Dave Bry for a steady stream of rap and hip-hop videos, including from Southern artists I’d never otherwise run into. I Listen to Everything is a great resource, too. The author is the daughter of rock star astrologist Susan Miller, which I find super cool.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be? On a good day, my career is like Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On“—fast-paced and multi-faceted, with quiet, meditative verses and a wildly accelerated chorus.
SOPHIE’S (VIDEO) PLAYLIST
Bang Bang Bang, Mark Ronson & The Business Intl
I’m Not Your Toy, La Roux
Let Me Know, Róisín Murphy
Any Which Way, Scissor Sisters
Paper Romance, Groove Armada
Wonderful Life, Hurts
We No Speak Americano, Yolanda Be Cool and DCUP
Dancing On My Own, Robyn
Moloko, Familiar Feeling
Kim and Jesse, M83
Images: Sophie Donelson