It turns out that many of us have a really deep connection with what we listen to when we’re working, and we love sharing the stuff that gets us moving and gets the ideas sparking in our heads. Because so many people had such thoughtful comments, I wanted to share as many of those as I can, so here’s one more installment about the ways artists use music—and the music they use—in their studios. Here you’re going to get lots of names to check out, plus some reasons why they work.
Christina says, “”Dang. My playlists are large and varied. Frank Sinatra, Led Zeppelin, Steam Powered Giraffe, Beethoven, Queen, Marianne Faithful, Maria McKee, Everclear, etc., etc, etc. Mostly, I clump the songs into lists regarding tempo. You’ll know my work aura by the rhythm of the tunes. The Beat Goes On.” When I do listen to music, that’s the case for me, too: it’s the beat, the energy (high or low), the mood. Joyce works with a variety, as well: “Tom Wait, Jamie Cullum, Jerry Lee Lewis (I know, I know…..)” Roberta is just the opposite, though, and she says, “My Pandora station pretty much stays on Lyle Lovett.” If you’re going to choose just one voice to listen to, you could do a lot worse than Lyle.
Carin says, “I mostly work in silence, but when I do play music in the studio it’s very often John Legend. I have no idea why. The funny thing is that I took this painting class a few years ago and the woman who gave it also played his music a lot.” That makes you want to try painting to John Legend, doesn’t it? Just to see what happens.
If you work well to folk music, you might try some of the artists on Jennifer’s list: “I love folk music, folk rock and “indie” singer/song writers. Artists like Chris Pureka, Chris Knight, Joe Purdy, Damien Rice, Lisa Hannigan, Kate Tucker….”
Alice says she chooses music according to what’s going on: “What I listen to depends on what I’m working on. And yes, if what I’m doing involves words, the music can’t have vocals. It’s embarrassing how many times heard words have found themselves in what I was writing. Painting: High energy electronics/punk/rock. Mindless Self Indulgence, Daft Punk, Dropkick Murphy’s, Flogging Molly, The Ramones, El Tri, Hamlet. Journals: Tranquil music like Gary Staedler, Govi, Ottmar Liebert. Other stuff (needlework, wood, sculpture): Everything from Loreena McKennitt to TV on the Radio.”
Rob’s taste is eclectic, too: “I’m all over the place, but for instrumental inspiration, lately I’ve been listening to Keiko Matsui’s Dream Walk and E.S. Posthumus’ Unearthed albums. I also love Smooth Jazz from Paul Taylor, Richard Elliot, Minda Abair, Dave Sanborn, Spyro Gyra, etc.” Smooth jazz works for me, too; instrumental smooth jazz is great for weekend stitching when I hang out with my husband (he’s not so much into the classical piano I listen to when I’m alone, so I put on something he likes so he’ll hang out and talk to me).
And here’s one I had to go check out just because who can resist a name like “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo”? Not I. It’s Laurie’s fault because she said, “Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, ‘Flight of the Cosmic Hippo.'” (I actually like it; check it out and see what you think.)
Jennifer says, “Foster the People, Gorillaz, Daft Punk, anything with a beat.”
Joyce (another Joyce) says, “I listen to Freddie Hubbard and the Gotan Project. I feel like I can float when I listen to Freddie Hubbard and the Gotan Project gives me sweeping movement.” Randi says, “Rumours Follow out of Denver is quite fabulous!” And Cody says, “For me, my music goes all over the place. It depends on where I’m at emotionally at the time. But, my three favorite groups whom I return to over and over are Pet Shop Boys, Depesche Mode and Electronic. These three make me happy.”
Tracy says, “The Bells of Arcosanti is the soundtrack to my home and studio. No vocals and set to wind chimes and nature mostly. Also, Cat Stevens/Yusuf, Donovan, The Be Good Tanyas, World Music.”
I hope this has been as much fun for y’all as it has for me. I’ve been reminded of some of my favorites and have listened to some brand-new-to-me tunes, and it’s fun knowing what others are listening to while they’re at work.
You can find out more about artists and how they like to work in The Pulse of Mixed Media by Seth Apter.
MORE RESOURCES FOR MIXED MEDIA ARTISTS