I am a photographer in great need of boost in creativity. I’ve been out and about listening to music, but my playlists are uninspiring. What are a few tracks I can add to my iPod to help boost my outlook and put me in a creative mindset?
Out of Ideas
Dearest Out of Ideas,
I am the Photography Editor of The Independent on campus, as you may have seen my photo on the inside cover of the publication. So, you came to the right place! I have built you the perfect playlist to inspire you, and I’ve included what kind of photoshoot corresponds to each song.
Check it out:
Good luck! Remember your rule of thirds and never be afraid of shallow depth of field.
Hanna, Musical MD
Lio D (putting the D in KDUR) asked me to make a warm daze spring playlist, and I was so happy to do so because I had prompted him to make his ideal summer playlist. We were basically on the same wavelength with the current warm weather. Enjoy these songs while sitting next to the river with friends and some beer!
1. “Let’s Go Surfing” – The Drums
Basically of The Drums’ songs are fit for the sun! Put on either of their first two albums while you’re just leaving your house for a day of sunbathing, and you’ll feel like dancing around in the morning dew with bare feet.
2. “Deadbeat Summer” – Neon Indian
Since high school, I’ve been a sucker for this song. It’s perfect. Just listen.
3. “Ode To Viceroy” – Mac DeMarco
All of my roommates smoke cigarettes, and this is such a nice song to listen to while sitting on the porch with them as they take their 5-7 minute break.
4. “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” – Tame Impala
This is a sweet, innocent song that reminds me of longing. The first time I listened to it, I was in the overwhelmingly beautiful vegetation in the Epping Forest in Annapolis, Maryland.
5. “Feel It All Around” – Washed Out
This is another good one from my high school summer vacation days. Though now I can’t listen to it without thinking of Portlandia, it’s still a good one for a warm afternoon.
When Nic Hassinger tells you that he likes you taste in music, trust me, it’s a big deal. When Nic told me this, I couldn’t help but grin in disbelief. Nic is the Music Director at KDUR, so he has control over what new music is played on the radio station. Whenever we talk music, I imagine a vast library of all genres of music stored away in his head.
So, I was naturally very excited to read his answers to my music quiz. Here it is for you all to enjoy:
1. What was the first band you were ever obsessed with?
Had to be Linkin Park. I mean I was super young so…
2. Guilty pleasure song?
Crave You by Flight Facilities. I had it on the other day and my roommate was shocked.
3. Song that always gets stuck in your head for too long whenever you hear it?
Sequential Circuits by Panda Bear. The weird ethereal ambient hypnotic sound will get stuck in my head for days. His odd voice also gets stuck but just for not as long.
4. Song that reminds you of your mother/father?
Poppa Was A Rodeo – The Magnetic Fields.
5. Band you know their entire discography?
Flatbush Zombies. It’s not the biggest so that is helpful. Also Childish Gambino. He’s got a huge discography with all the mix tapes. Killer Mike and El-P. So it looks like mostly Hip Hop.
6. Song that describes how you feel today?
Today is Jeff The Brotherhoods cover of Come In Alone originally by My Bloody Valentine. I couldn’t tell you what mood it is but this song fits perfectly.
7. Artist you believe has the most beautiful voice?
That’s not fair. That is the hardest question you could ask.
8. Favorite song lyric?
9. Song that reminds you of your childhood?
Any church hymn ever. Catholic school fucked me up.
10. Genre of music you tend to gravitate towards the most?
Honestly Hip Hop or Garage Rock. Or some ambient stuff.
11. Genre of music you tend to ignore?
I sleep on country a lot. Alt-Country is a totally different story though. I love me some Lucero.
12. Song you listen to when you want to relax?
I listen to Awake by Tycho when I’m trying to tone it down.
13. Song you listen to when you want to get pumped up?
Run The Jewels second album. It happens to be called Run The Jewels 2. If the first 4 tracks don’t get you hyped beyond belief then you are dead inside.
14. Song you’re currently obsessed with?
Down 4 So Long (Remix). Because you get some R&B some rap and you get to hear Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend spit some bars.
15. Who did you see at your first concert?
It was some Christian band like Jars of Clay or something. Like I said, Catholic school. But I think the first real one was the Flobots. Wait. Or Rise Against.
16. What was the first CD you ever bought?
Linkin Parks something or another. One of their first ones.
17. Last song you listened to, or what’s on your “Now Playing” on your MP3 player or laptop?
A Christmas Fucking Miracle – Run The Jewels
18. Have you ever seen a life-changing performance?
Please refer to my last blog post about the 420 fest.
(I just read your post, and the Kurt Cobain look-alike you are blogging about is my friend Cameron singing Britney Spears’ Toxic with his band, Cactopus! They recently moved to Austin, so they don’t do local shows anymore, but you can check them out here!)
19. Song you know all the lyrics to?
Literally to many to count. I like music.
20. A band that helped you out during a tough time?
My Chemical Romance. They helped me through those horrid tween years.
(Oh my gosh, Nic, same here. That middle school obsession with MCR is still burning in my heart sometimes.)
Breakups are hard, especially if it’s your first, if you’ve been with your partner for awhile, or if you’re the one whose heart has been broken. You go through a roller coaster of emotions after the connection has been snipped, so I made a playlist to act as your imaginary big spoon at night to comfort you during each stage post-breakup.
1. Wanting them back.
“When You Were Mine” – Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
You were just freshly broken up with, you’re still in love with your ex, and you want them back. You might have accidentally sent a few drunken “I miss you” text messages and were rightfully ignored. You spend days on end feeling empty and heartbroken. When anyone asks you “How are you?”, you burst into the most embarrassing teary mess. The song is cute with his innocent keyboard strokes and his deep, soothing voice, but these lyrics just kill you as you are wallowing in your bed with your headphones on:
I know that you’re going with another guy
I don’t care
because I love you babe and that’s no lie
I love you more that I did when you were mine
Also, what an ingenious band name. I wish I had thought of that.
2. Realizing that you don’t NEED them like you thought you did.
“Days” – The Drums
In this stage, you’re finally starting to realize that you will be okay without your ex-lover, life will go on, and this will not end you. You’re still heartbroken, but you’re trying to fix your attitude. This is a good song for yelling the lyrics by yourself in your car at night, with the windows down, and the heat blasting. The mix of the cold and hot air will seem synonymous to your heart, which is feeling opposing emotions all at once.
And now days go by and I never needed you
And I worked so hard and I killed myself
And you broke my bones and I soothed my soul
3. Finally starting to get over them.
“I Don’t Love You” – My Chemical Romance
Gerard Way is so dreamy, you should ditch the idea of you ex altogether and just focus your attention on him, really. But this is the stage when you realize that maybe your relationship was problematic, despite your recent denial. You don’t really love them anymore, but you’re just hanging onto the idea of them. You’re not trying to make them stay anymore, you have accepted the fact that you’re not getting back together. Of course they were an important part of your life, but you are about ready to move on.
When you go
Would you even turn to say
“I don’t love you
Like I did
4. They are now a distant memory.
“Title and Registration” – Death Cab for Cutie
5. You’re single and ready to go out with your friends!
“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Starfucker
You’re out on the town with your ladies, celebrating your recent relationship status. Now that you’re single, you have more time to go out with friends, take up small-scale embroidery, make feminist zines, and start a couple themed blogs!
My guilty pleasure? English post-punk and alternative rock bands from the 70s and early 80s. The Smiths, Joy Division, The Cure, New Order. There’s just something so appealing about attractive male frontmen whining on stage about how love as screwed them over time and time again. I just can’t get enough of it. The lyricism is generally always depressing and relatable, but the music includes catchy, bouncy guitar riffs and a beat that give you a feeling of nostalgia and make you want to get drunk in your living room off of boxed wine and dance around with your girlfriends, dressed in all black.
Morrissey of The Smiths paired with Jonny Marr was the dream team when they came onto the scene in England. Morrissey’s operatic, deep voice pairs so well with Marr’s easily-recognizable guitar work. No wonder Morrissey’s solo work is not as successful – he’s missing his genius other half.
The goth rock that Robert Smith of The Cure brings to the scene looks intimidating with his darkened eyes and crazy black hair standing on end (which he still styles like this in 2015, by the way), until you realize he’s singing the lyrics to Friday, I’m in Love.
And Joy Division’s Disorder? I can replay that song over and over and still never get sick of it; no wonder the Unknown Pleasures shirts are so popular right now. England in this time was truly an influential time for music, and bands like The Drums and Viet Congs are still trying to recreate those sounds today.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, check out this 5-song playlist:
Still Ill – The Smiths
Disorder – Joy Division
Just Like Heaven – The Cure
Age of Consent – New Order
There is a Light that Never Goes Out – The Smiths
I had the pleasure to sit down and interview a close friend of mine, Dana Mastrangelo, my feminist superstar moon-sister. Dana’s head is a dense library filled with music knowledge that would destroy anyone at music trivia. This curly-haired head of hers holds strong opinions of all kinds of genres, and she knows exactly what type of sounds she’s into (specifically, she does not want to hear British accents in her punk music!). She’s a non-traditional music guru with tiny pink bangs and killer eyebrows, so she’s definitely the kind of person you’d want to talk music with.
Dana and I met back in 2012, and I’ve seen her almost daily since then. She lives 2 blocks away, and we have the same tight-knit group of friends that are all just really obsessed with each other’s company.
We’ve spent drunk nights laying on the floor of her living room, listening to old My Chemical Romance songs, basically in tears talking about how much the band meant to us back in the middle school emo days. Frank Iero was obviously a mutual crush.
At an hour’s notice, we’ve packed up and left for California to make it in time for a music festival where Modest Mouse was headlining. Driving overnight with no sleep, taking a Land Rover with terrible gas mileage, and encountering a crowd of hipsters that don’t even dance to Electric Guest would have been enough to scare most away, but we were determined to see Isaac Brock kill it on stage and boogie to Tiny Cities Made of Ashes.
We work at the Durango Diner together, occasionally giggling in the direction of each other when some 80s pop song comes on that is just too hilarious for the hungover, hectic restaurant situation we are putting ourselves through.
Though so much of our friendship revolves around music, there is always something more to learn about a person through their music experiences. So, I asked Lil Dabz to bring in five songs that were life-changing, her favorite, or have a specific memory attached.
HANNA: My little music princess, what five songs do you have in mind?
DANA: So, it was really difficult to narrow it down, mostly because I mainly just listen to punk and no real punk music comes to mind. This will probably just be composed of music that I’ve heard and connected with in my earlier teen years, before I found what I consider my current music niche. The first one that comes to mind undoubtedly has to be by Nirvana, and specifically an acoustic track, So I’ll go with The Man Who Sold The World, a David Bowie cover from the MTV’s Unplugged performance, just a few months prior to Cobain’s death. Nirvana was my first initiation into music. I was in fifth grade, my dad had the album, and it was honestly the first time I explored into anything beyond the pop music I heard my older siblings listening to. Though Nirvana is one of the most iconic, influencing bands, they were my real initiation to grunge and punk and all the real sounds I listen to today. It immediately just felt right up my alley. I bought the DVD of that performance at some point in middle school, and I’ve probably watched it over 100 times. It’s also that acoustic performance that led me to teach myself guitar, it was those songs I taught myself looking up tablature online. I could write a fucking novel about Cobain and his song writing and Nirvana and all that jazz, but it’s already been done about 50 times, right? However, obviously Bowie wrote this song, but the movement up the C and F scale during the chorus just melts me, and dude they throw in a chick on the cello and it just couldn’t be any more bittersweet.
HANNA: Ah, yes. My dad was also into Nirvana. You’re right, our dad’s would get along just fine. I think it’s awesome that you borrowed the Nirvana Unplugged vinyl from a friend that ended up leaving town and it’s still at my house. Thanks for accidentally stealing something awesome for me.
DANA: Fuck yeah, no problem, sweetie.
HANNA: Alright, onto the next.
DANA: My second song would have to be Asking For It by Hole. Hole’s lead singer Courtney Love was Kurt’s wife, to go on a 90’s grunge tangent here. There’s something really cool about Courtney’s lyricism and attitude towards art and music because for the first time as a younger folk I saw a completely different representation of women rather than this standard femininity I really couldn’t dig or identify with, especially at 12 or 13 or whatever. She was just crazy raw. Courtney Love is unapologetic and rough around the edges and crazy-and that’s what I like about her. I grew up quite the queer kid, and she was a relief from society’s standard femininity. You don’t have to be this dainty pink tulip of a woman. On a side note: she shoulda stopped writing music after this specific 1994 album, Live Through This. The discography goes downhill from here.
HANNA: I’m imagining that adorable photo on Facebook of you from years ago on the floor with your guitar, with your caption “dude look how hard I visually queered the system in middle school.” Oh, here it is. I wonder how that got there.
DANA: Taken, surprisingly, before I started dabbling in drugs.
HANNA: Unbelievable. So what’s next?
DANA: My third song is King of Carrot Flowers by Neutral Milk Hotel. I’m not huge on indy-folk but they are my favorite band. I’ve seen them three times and each time, I’ve spent the whole time sobbing my eyes out. My best friend growing up gave me this album during my senior year of high school and this is the first track on the album. So simply that first, opening bar cord riff, is straight forward and catchy and resounding and powerful and upbeat. I could talk for hours about this album, but I like how a friend of mine recently described it: entry-level hipster bullshit.
HANNA: That’s definitely one thing that you’ve taught me: Neutral Milk Hotel is worth listening to, always. What else do you have for me?
DANA: Drunk and with Dreams by Angel Olson. And I would say this song speaks to my soul. It’s a love song, kind of, but it’s about wearing your heart on your sleeve and letting down your guard and sacrificing your pride. I would summarize it the way Morrissey did, “It takes strength to be gentle and kind.” This song heals that sting when I feel like I’m too overwhelmed by my emotions, or I’m feeling too much or something along those lines. It’s hard to put into words without sounding like a sap, but when I think of when I first heard this song I recall hitting replay about 20 times and actually rolling around on my mattress clutching my chest with my hands. This all sounds odd, but listen to it, okay?
HANNA: Aw, such a sweet song. I haven’t heard it before. So what’s last on the list?
DANA: The last song has to be Sleepwalking by Modest Mouse, which is just a classic, romantic love ballad with this gentle, sentimental swing to it. I have many memories of our friend group slow dancing to this together and switching off partners like it was prom night or some shit. I like music about romance and affection, that’s something I notice while reflecting on these “most influential tracks”. So, lead singer Isaac Brock is an asshole, like dude such an arrogant jerk to his fans, but he’s an amazing song writer. If he knew I had his album cover tattooed on me he’d probably scoff rather than find it flattering. Anyways, this is the first song that I ever played on my KDUR radio show, Sugary Sweet Machine. It’s cute, man.
HANNA: Oh, the Hoffman’s. So many drunken nights eating everclear-soaked cranberries and twerking on dirty kitchen appliances with our girl gang, the Black Out Gurlz.
DANA: (laughs) We are shameless.
HANNA: After reflecting on these five songs, do they have anything in common, or any unifying aspect?
DANA: Mostly just unconventional lyricism and really reflecting on different experiences and stages in my life. I make sense of my world and the way I feel about it through music.
Music can help guide us through experiences, create memories, and invoke emotions. The significance that certain songs hold within us can go unseen and overlooked by another listening to the same song. But by sharing our stories with music as an aid, we can add our input to the human experience that we all share through something as unifying as music.