Matt Jenko

Matt Jenko
Hi my name is Matt, but my friends call me Matt. I’m on the wrong side of 29 (damn I hate it every time I have to update that number), definitely feeling my age, but never felt happier and more content than I do at this point in my life. I’ve been through some rocky patches (who hasn’t) and lived to tell the tale, and boy do I gots some stories. When I’m not giving opinions absolutely nobody asked for, I’m doing a worldbuilding with my passion project, vivaellipsis. If you like offbeat nonsense delivered through immersive escapism, then go and get involved. Or don’t, I’m not telling you what to do. I’m not yer boss. I’m a simple man with simple interests. I like Yorkshire tea, the sound of rain on the window, and a bloody good story.

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Music to Escape Reality

4×4

13 December 2021

Everyone claims they grew up during the golden age of music. Boomers will point to the 60’s and 70’s radicalism, citing Disco, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Motown, the whole Woodstock lineup. It’s called Classic Rock for a reason. Millennials will argue the 2000’s as the peak, with the advanced production in hip hop, the unfiltered diversity and creativity that was unlocked with streaming, and Beyonce. Even the Lost Generation (if they were still around) would sit you down and wax poetic about the Roaring Twenties: the start of the modern music era. Jazz, Big Band dance music, the Blues, and Broadway show tunes. The true OGs.

At the risk of being disrespectful to those that came before and dismissive to those that emerged after, the generation I believe responsible for the best music (defined as depth of quality and innovation): Generation X. 80’s Pop (Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna). Grunge/Alternative (Nirvana, Radiohead). Hair Bands. Hip Hop. And the oft-forgotten contributor, the foster kid nobody wanted, who grew up to be a legend: Punk.

I was a freshman in high school when I was first exposed to hardcore punk (also known as thrash metal or skate punk). I was a skater, but more importantly, I was a punk. Obsessed with Hip Hop, my favorite rap artists were the rebellious ones (Public Enemy, NWA, Too Short, Beastie Boys). I was also a fan of Heavy Metal, in particular Metallica, our Bay Area hometown hero. While rap spoke to the external stressors and pressures like police harassment, project/gang life, and fighting to survive against the odds, heavy metal dealt with internal stressors and pressures, like depression, unrealized expectations, drug addiction, and fighting to survive your own demons.

Then Punk rolled in and merged those two worlds into a new one. A loud, destructive, intimidating world that was somehow calm, inviting, and inspirational. Primus. The songs were short but lasting, the lyrics basic but piercing. I didn’t have to go between Mom and Dad’s anymore, they reconciled and moved into a quaint, 2-bedroom ranch-style rental on the corner of angst and chalk outlines. I just called it home.

This playlist takes me back to that time, while showcasing the evolution of the genre into faster, harder, stronger.

Primus –> Ghøstkid
Suicidal Tendencies –> The Virus
Rage Against The Machine –> Pour Habit

Generation Z is building its case…

Relaxed Experimental

8 November 2021

Relaxed. . .I want to unwind, to untangle myself from whatever’s going on in my life. Music is always my salvation for doing that. . .

Experimental. . .But I want to be stimulated. I want layers, complexities, I want to be soothed but engaged. . .

Relaxed. . .I don’t want to be overstimulated by emotive vocals or dense verse, I want space in-between sounds, round edges and warm tones. . .

Experimental. . .I want my mediums mixed. Natural and synthetic sounds in synergy, beats connecting neural pathways and snapping at synapses to forge new energy, to make way for deeper breaths, a stiller mind. . . relaxed. . .experimental.

Matt and I share an affinity for this genre evading sound we’ve labelled Relaxed, Experimental and in putting this list together we gradually defined this sound organically. Through the back and forth of song selection there is a natural ebb and flow that brings about subtle changes in energy.

Emotive, beatless pieces like Maggio by Yotto and Lost in You by Pedro Aguiar gradually give way to playful broken beats and pulsing dancefloor grooves in for the form of New World by Anchorsong and Parallel 2 by Four Tet. We hit our stride at the 10 track mark and from there it feels like one track is an extension of the last – each track just long enough to stimulate the senses and sink into a soothing stream of sounds before the next weaves into the consciousness. The songs began to pick themselves as we relaxed into the experiment and let the music lead the way.

Have you ever had that experience of finally having some time to relax and when it comes to it you can’t? You’re looking round for something to do, something to occupy your mind. You’ve gone from hyper-stimulated to nothing and your mind isn’t ready for the pause. This list speaks to that – a gateway to a more relaxed state.

Journey to Anywhere

8 November 2021

“Hoof Command, this is Escape Reality Mission Control, do you copy?”

“Ready for takeoff, over.”

A stallion with a yearning for the stars, departing on a ship destined for deep space. Guided only by the mysterious Escape Reality Corporation, The Hoof has no Atlas, only a disembodied voice over LDRA for company.

Talia, the voice calls itself. “I’ll be accompanying you on this journey, as well as providing the soundtrack.” There’s a slight accent to the voice, subtle hints of Camargue — a region home to one of the oldest breeds of horse in world. Reassurance for The Hoof. “We’re currently on board theTARANTIA,” says Talia. “A Resistence class cruiser purpose-built for the kind of deep flight we’re about to embark on.”

FEELS KINDA ROPEY” says The Hoof as the vessel powers up for takeoff.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine. There’s a 72% survival rate.”

!WARNING!

**OBJECT DETECTED IN: PROMENADE OBLIQUE_**

“We seem to have an anomaly. Anomaly — identify yourself.”

A new voice over the intercom: “Don’t mind me Talia. There were some checks I needed to make, I wasn’t satisfied with the usual 54% survival rate.”

“Dr Sally, you need to remove yourself immediately, unless of course you’d like to be incinerated?”

“It’s fine Talia. Once these checks have been completed, the TARANTIA will be up to an acceptable 67% survival.”

“And yours will be a round 0%. Assessment: Run, Sally. Run!

“I’D RATHER NOT SACRIFICE THE DOC—” begins The Hoof, but then everything goes blinding white.

**

Drifting, out in the void of space. The Hoof awakens for a sleep that feels like it last an eternity. There’s a real pain in his neck, and there’s a lot of neck to be in pain. Then he remembers the takeoff.

“Talia?” he asks. “Did, well, y’know…”

“You’re awake! It’s been quite some time, I didn’t know if you’d ever come round. I could have given you a shake, but I don’t know how you’d have responded and best not to provoke a horse. This isn’t my first rodeo.”

“What happened to the doc?”

“Look out of the window! Isn’t it marvellous—”

“—yes, it’s nice, but what happened to Sally?—”

“—it’s called the Mouth of God. A Solar System collapsing in on itself; you can see the swirling mass of celestial debris coalescing on the slipstream. Let’s go in closer.”

As the TARANTIA draws nearer, The Hoof sees with a sickening realisation that this Solar System is the one he’d left. The familiar sights of his home system stretched out before as ink descends in water. However long he’d been gone, had been enough time for an apocalypse.“

Can you see the suspended tendrils of planet Earth? We’re on the Edgewater of the Pacific, though it’s more like a river these days. How marvellous to see cities and mountains folded over one another, a wonderful vision of the circularity of existence, a powerful… hey! What are you doing?”

“I’m taking Control. I’ve seen enough to know deep space isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

“Where do you think you’re going to go?”

“Home.”

As if by some divine providence, our stalwart stallion engages the vessel’s manual override, hoofing it for the centre of the swirling mass before him. Whether by prophetic insight or pure idiocy, our hero heads for the very centre, a blinding mass that looks like it will crush the ship like so many marching ants, when the tiniest of openings reveals itself — a wormhole. Salvation(?)

**

The Tunnel goes on for eternity. Talia has been quiet for nearly as long, but upon emerging on the other side, she emits a gasp.

“The loop, it exists! We’re back at origin, almost as if it were inevitable. Reality is truly an Ouroboros, each existence merely an Oda, a room within the sprawling House of the Gods.”

“Something is different,” The Hoof absorbs. “This isn’t the reality we left. We don’t have all those Small Little Green Cubes where I’m from.”

Talia ponders for a moment. “Assays indicate they are geometrical aberrations incurred as a byproduct of the temporal recursion.”

Ne Güzel,” mutters The Hoof, momentarily Turkish for some reason.

“Linguistic distortions are also to be expected.”

!WARNING!

**FUEL RESERVES: CRITICAL_**

“I’m afraid we won’t make it back to your homeworld… well, the variation of your homeworld in this existential circle, at least.”

“So something is different then,” says The Hoof, getting a little tired of Talia’s horsehit.

Talia merely gives a response that sounds like whatever a disembodied shrug would sound like. “Materially, they’re not much different, minus the cubes. We came from Circle 12, we’re now in Circle… 14 I believe. Fortunate that we bypassed 13, if my archives are to be believed.”

!WARNING!

**FUEL RESERVES: CRITICAL_**
**DEMISE: IMMINENT_**

“Should we do something about that?”

Talia laughs. “You must forgive the warning system; it’s something of an alarmist. We will be fine. Just steer toward that nebulous Solent to the west there; yes, that’s the one. Aim true now, good stallion — The World Is Watching.”

Guided by something from beyond, The Hoof pilots the vessel along the twisting celestial river, until eventually he sees it.

The Red Planet.

Mars.

As the TARANTIA comes into land on the planet’s desolate surface, Talia says what The Hoof is thinking. “It looks like it’s just me and you for the forseeable future.”

“How nice,” The Hoof mutters for a second time that lifetime.

Talia laughs.

“I suppose I ought to make us some Breakfast then.”

**

Many years later —

“Hoof Command, this is Escape Reality Mission Control, do you copy?”

“Ready for takeoff, over.”

Transitions Vol. 1

17 September 2021

About this playlist

Waiting – IHF

Starting this playlist off was quite the step to take. We had no idea what direction we were going in with it, so I decided to play it safe and go with a track that could have worked on both Escape Reality or Essay Writing. A smart move, no? Little did I know just how much this list would evolve and mutate

One thing I did know though was that each transition would have to work on a 12s crossfade. I know it says 5, but I always work to 12 seconds and this time was no different!

I’m Only Sleeping – The Beatles

When we started the list there was no preset theme or framing – we were going to bounce from track to track and see where it went – the only thing we agreed on was a 5 second crossfade. IHF’s Waiting was released this year, in 2021, and immediately set the tone for a razor sharp up to date playlist with the latest trends and technologies. Hah! I’ve heard that reverse vocal effect before – maybe not on the vocal patch but certainly on a guitar – check The Beatles 1966 album Revolver and I’m Only Sleeping where the world got to hear such an effect for the first time – cutting edge technology indeed! Oh – and the transition into the track was pretty sweet too.

Acid Turkish Bath – Kasbian

Revolver was clearly such a huge inspiration to Kasabian, especially on West Ryder and Velociraptor!, so I knew the minute I saw Andrew had added what track three was going to be. Given recent changes to Kasabian’s line up I had to be careful to go with a Serge track, but I reckon this one did the job wonderfully. But where would we go from here…?

Steady – The Staves

Oh My God – that Kasabian track – what an Opera! Coming beautifully out George Harrison’s reversed guitars into more guitars and an Eastern tinged string section and then the entire journey across different grooves, different sections – the track’s almost a playlist in itself. There were a billion ways to go but I found myself focused on the outro and what would fit beautifully onto that plucked guitar and haunting female vocal – aaah yes – The Staves

Glass & Stone – Tor

The outro to Steady had me stumped for about a day. But there was this tiny motif flickering in the background of the track that caught my ear and the minute it did I was like ‘it’s gotta be Tor!’ I had a spell in July of listening almost exclusively to Tor because the minute you hear his music, you get just a wee bit addicted to it. The way Glass & Stone melts out of Steady is perhaps one of my finest moments as a curator; G&S isn’t a particularly hard track to fade into another given how the reverse cymbal rise gives you lots of space for pairing, but to make the connection to Steady did take quite a bit of creative thinking, so pats on the back to Matty. It’s also one of many of Tor’s tracks that remind me of the Witcher, exploring the ravaged battlegrounds of Velen, and I’m always happy to sip from that particular cup of nostalgia. Now, for a round of gwent…

Bad Girls – M.I.A

Straight off the bat I’m hearing the same Eastern feel to the Tor track – it’s as if Matt had spent the last few months touring Northern Africa and the Middle East – which initially had me reaching for a Peter Gabriel soundtrack but I wanted to keep the energy up – I’d always loved the video for Bad Girls and the transition around the bells was perfect.

±ªþ³§ (feat. Yonaka) – Bring Me the Horizon

I gotta agree with Andrew about the way Glass & Stone fades into Bad Girls, it’s virtually seamless. Given that synchronicity, at first the BMTH/YONAKA track might seem like a bit of a cop-out — it literally starts with a shaker, you could drape that over anything. But when you give it a listen, there are plenty of similarities with the previous track that makes them perfect list mates. ±ªþ³§ (which says ‘tapes’, if you can just about make out if you squint (or google it)) has a progressive energy that spins through all kinds of ideas, and I knew I was either setting Andrew up for a head scratcher, or he’d get it right away. There would be no in between.

Tessellate – Alt J

So now I’m beginning to feel what this playlist is about – Transitions – the idea that you can take a listener to a completely different space – as long as the transition makes sense. I knew of Matt’s deep affection for Bring Me The Horizon (link to album review!) – this was another epic piece coming in at over 7 minutes – but it was the beat that kept nagging at me (aha! So it was the head scratcher then — Matt) – the intricate percussion – add to that the vocal “And I try my best to stick around, but when you’re broken like me..” – there was something kinda brutal in how Tesselate’s opening chords quietly but effectively drowned them out and took us in a different direction

Himalayan – il:lo Remix – Emancipator, il:lo

I didn’t even have to think about this next transition — I heard Himalayan in that outro virtually instantly. The obvious play might have been to go with the Emanc original, given that it matches the Alt-J track a little more in terms of feel and groove, but I’ve been addicted to the il:lo remix since I first heard it. Il:lo make some of the most colourful tracks in electronic music, it’s always such a joy to see them crop up on me release radar. Listen to this and try not to dance. I guarantee you you cannot.

aphelion – vivaellipsis; bayard brasko

Hah! I remember listening to the Emancipator track (urm, I think you mean il:lo PAL — Matt) on earbuds out walking – and not having looked at the artist or the track title, I quickly knew exactly what to put next – vivaellipsis’ Himalaya – I literally laughed when I saw the name of the track – and then nearly cried when I realized that Himalaya was being remastered so wasn’t available for the list. No worries – vivaellipsis has a particular groove and the way the Emancipator track faded to nothing I wanted something that would gently bring you back and then bring the energy back up – hello aphelion!

Perfect – CloZee

I gotta be honest, this one actually was a cop out — the minute I saw Andrew had gone with aphelion I knew what was coming after. This is largely due to the fact I’d already made this particular pairing on Escape Reality, so I knew they were going to play nicely together right away.

Só sei dançar com você – Tulipa Ruiz, Zé Pi

Had never heard of CloZee but I’m loving the vocal positioning and the lush feel of the strings – it feels right at home with the last few tracks – time to change the groove – the outro with it’s stereo spanning synths and breathy loops was set up beautifully to introduce a shift – guitar in one ear – vocal slap back in the center – the rest of the instruments falling around you – what a groove!

Shinrin-Yoku – Enter Shikari

In the spirit of curveballs, I felt like I had to sling one of my own. I realised I’d been defaulting to my bread and butter, but there was space with this list to explore a much broader palette. My default ‘let’s shake things up then’ artist is always Enter Shikari, because they embody the very spirit of sonic diversity. They can go from crushingly, violently heavy to softer than a mouse in slippers in a heartbeat, so there’s always something from the repertoire. In the end I went with Shinrin-Yoku, mainly because it sounds like a garden. You know what I mean don’t you. This is one of the coolest transitions on the list, the way the leaf rustle comes in from Shinrin-Yoku as the vocals melt out of Só sei dançar com você, I actually find it quite hard to tell where one starts and the other ends. And then the way it twists into Phobia in this grinding, cacophonous gnarl of sound that’s punctuated beautifully with the 808 kick? It’s brilliant

Phobia – Wuh Oh Remix – Nothing But Thieves, Wuh Oh

Damn I’m in love with the Enter Shikari track – I remember listening to it on repeat for a day – the authenticity of the lyric and the clear and compelling hooks – had me almost going down a Kate Tempest but the energy wasn’t right – how do you follow that huge ending: “We are dust on the stained glass windows, trying to comprehend the cathedral” with crashing guitars and drums? A drum machine – that’s how! But of course one that changes course pretty quickly…

Looking For Tracy Tzu – Carpenter Brut

I don’t know what it was about Phobia but it had me thinking it would be followed by Carpenter Brut even before I’d finished listening to it. The outro to Phobia has this real dystopian city feel to it, and it blends perfectly with the rolling arp at the start of Looking For Tracy Tzu. I guess it’s hard to think dystopian and not also think of Carpenter, and what better track to go exploring a cyberpunk nightmare than the soaring darkness that is Looking For Tract Tzu?

The Underdog – Spoon

Oh man – it took me days to find the next track after the Carpenter Brut track – here’s what I finally write to Matt when I go it:
“Finally – that Carpenter Brut track was doing my head in – obvs I loved it but I had three spearate tracks it was triggering in my head – the synth hook was reminiscent of so many tracks – I spent two days hunting and couldn’t find them – finally I went down a rabbit hole driven by the electronic aspect of the track through LCD Soundsystem and somehow ended up on Spoon and remembered their album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga album – which I loved – and remembered the intro – and now… everything is groovy”

Slow Hands – Interpol

Alright, I got thrown for a loop here — that intro was hard to roll out of. But after listening to that tremolo outro a good few times, the intro to Slow Hands just started to play in my head. I threw it and voila! They played together perfectly. Something about the way the drums from The Underdog tumble out, this perfectly imperfect overlay to the straight arrow percussion of Slow Hand, just felt very special.

It’s The End of the World As We Know It – R.E.M.

I spent a morning playing with different tracks from The Killers and none of them seemed to work – it’s the slight opening on the high hat and the underlying energy of the outro with its abrupt ending that was proving challenging. I knew that I wanted to keep the energy up and was thinking of a snare driven opening – The Clash’s Tommy Gun almost made it but the cross fade blew out the opening guitars – so R.E.M. it was

Carnivorous – Band of Skulls

Oh man, I’m so glad you didn’t throw Tommy Gun at me — flashbacks to 2006 in a practice room when our manager at the time wanted us to be a Clash covers band. I couldn’t get the rapid fire fill right at the start and it was STRESS. And don’t get me started on Police and Thieves… Anyway! Another tricky one to line up on a 12s fade, but the organs at the start of Carnivorous had this darkness that actually felt like the beginning of the end of the world. So, more of a conceptual transition than a sonic one, but we never said the transitions were sonic did so keep your twitter comments to yerself 😉 Carnivorous is a piledriver of a song and I tend to add a Band of Skulls song to most collab playlists so indeed Andrew, I do know the feeling 😀

Temptation – New Order

You know that feeling when you’re making a playlist with someone else and they add a track from one of your favorite bands? I do – thank you Matt – I love Band of Skulls and they’re scattered across loads of my playlists – the tricky thing here again is the abrupt ending of Carnivorous with the full 5 seconds of silence that kills the crossfade – so I was looking for a fade in Intro – Blue Monday was a bit in your face so Temptation it was.

Lost In Yesterday – Tame Impala

Y’know it’s weird but the inspiration for this transition came from this image I had in my head of Temptation being played at like a prom or a wedding disco, and if you’ve seen the video for Lost In Yesterday you’ll see why I made this connection. If you haven’t, it’s here:

Mute it and play Temptation over the top. Tell me it doesn’t work.

Higher Ground – Stevie Wonder

(You know, it’s so weird — I was thinking the day before you added this just how much Lost In Yesterday reminded me of Stevie. It’s that guitar lick, it really reminds me ‘Isn’t She Lovely’, but Higher Ground works equally! – Matt)

Having gone through weeks of agony, wrestling with intros and outros, it was lovely to arrive at the end of the list and know exactly what the last track was going to be. Kevin Parker’s funky bass line and underlying groove seem to be paying tribute to Stevie’s Clav playing and so – hang on – just checking the transition – perfect!!!

Link to the Unsplash image

Strangers

9 August 2021

It’s always an interesting feeling when your mind gets out of lockstep with what you’re used to.

I was talking about this with a mentor just now, exploring the idea of feeling burnt out and how difficult rekindling can be. Earlier this year I was firing on all cylinders, delivering some of my best work and generally performing at the top of my game. I think my brain got used to that, started to build an identity around that, and ultimately, got a little a bit too invested in that.

I like to talk a lot about where we derive our sense of self and sense of value from, and the last few months have been a powerful lesson in how insidiously external ideas can creep up on you. You don’t realise, it’s too gradual, but over time, you’re judging yourself based on a fixed position when you yourself remain dynamic.

That’s not how to build a strong sense of self.

What happens is you find yourself out of sync with your own ideas, because the situation you’ve tied yourself to has moved on. Imagine a boat tied to a dock in a stormy sea. Your wellbeing is the rope, and something has to give.

What today’s insight has granted me is the knowledge that if you don’t check in on yourself, you’ll lose touch with yourself. You’ll become unfamiliar with each other, and it feels very strange. I honestly think this is what it means to feel out of sorts.

You have to take stock. You have to stay up to date with where you’re at versus where you were. We are in a state of constant evolution. Even when we feel in a rut, we’re still changing. In fact, being in a rut can create an illusion of no change, until things are so different you have no choice but to stop and realign with how far you’ve drifted from where you thought you were.

Your role changes. Your expectations, what is expected of you, changes. Being aware that this is an indisputable aspect of being human allows you to keep sight of where you are, even if you’re not quite sure where you’re going. Because our paths will stray. We’re not trains on a track, we’re boats on a sea (sans rope now, of course). Interesting developments will send us in totally unpredictable directions, and yes we might smash into rocks. But forcing ourselves to think of life as a linear path doesn’t change it’s nature, it just creates friction, denial, and sadness.

If you do one thing today, just ask yourself what’s going on, why you’re doing what you’re doing, worrying what you’re worrying, dreading what you’re dreading. Are you and yourself in sync with each other? Are you and yourself in agreement with each other? What does one self know that the other doesn’t? Which of you holds beliefs that don’t apply to where you are anymore?

This might sound a little nutty, a bit abstract, but I promise you it’s the existential recalibration you’ve been looking for to get you feeling back in sorts.

Have a bloody lovely day.


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Stranded In The Desert

26 May 2021

Picture the scene: you’ve burnt a million miles on your journey to escape reality. You’re out in the boonies, as far from other humans as you can possibly be. It’s just you, the open road, and your favourite tunes.

And then you break down.

Out in the middle of nowhere, miles of desert surrounding you, and no way of getting help. It’s going to take all your brain-power and a shit tonne of luck to get out of this mess before the vultures come a’calling. But that’s all part of the fun. After all, adversity is part of the adventure, right?

Fortunately, you don’t have to brave the desert with an inadequate playlist. We’ve clubbed together more than 30 of the filthiest heavy rock, metal and Americana tracks to soundtrack your excursion through the wilderness. Accompanied by the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Eagles Of Death Metal, Band Of Skulls and Kurt Vile, you’ll have pretty much all you need to survive.

Just pray your water supply doesn’t run out.


Photo by Fares Nimri on Unsplash

Why Is Music Important?

23 October 2020

Why is music important? Whenever somebody asks me this question, I’m instantly reminded me of this video of Mick Jagger and David Bowie dancing to no music.

It’s obviously a bit of an OTT example, but I think it illustrates the point quite well — imagine any number of scenarios with no music, or the wrong music, and you have your answer. It’s that sort of negative space kind of situation, like how you never notice your shadow, but if one day it wasn’t there, it’d be a sign that something was a bit awry.

Nothing placed this in the spotlight more than lockdown. Imagine having to endure the last few months without music to get you through, not just in its raw listening form, but in the films and shows and video games we’ve all been relying on heavily to keep the cabin fever at bay.

Call us biased, but as a global community of music lovers, we don’t just see music as important. We see it as everything.


Henry — Music to Stay Up Late At Night

“Music is important because it's an expression of the human soul and it's undying essence. It's a connection to what we are beyond the limits of our flesh, it's a reminder of what lies deep inside our hearts and a beautiful way to awaken the beauty that's sometimes dormant inside us. Music is important because it's a portal to other planes of existence, it's a bridge to what makes us really human, a bridge to the undying part of ourselves which we came to manifest in this physical experience.

Music is important because it reminds us that life is not just about surviving, it's about bliss.”


jane — music to play in your vintage mustang

“Years ago, I read a quote about music. I’m not sure if it was part of an article or critical review, or if it was an actual quote from a classical composer or maybe Shakespeare. I don’t think it was about the importance of music itself, but what stayed with me was a simple simile: “music is like water.”

And music, before I was 7 years old, gave me the fluidity to express myself through the way I could move my body.

On the cusp of teen spirit, it allowed steamy infatuations with sounds.

 In my adolescence, music crystallized with my rebellious attitude and its lyrics helped me drown in melodramatic love affairs, before reviving me.

 In my 20s, music was a motion down a rippling river or up. One song reminded me of rape; another reminded me that I’m alive.

 And in my 30s, through the death of my mother, I found that music can be nostalgic, present and future at once.

So, with this in mind, music is indeed like water. And if the human body is composed of 60% water, then music is life.”


Matt - Music to Groove You

“Music is affirmation of humanity's full potential. How could one ever deny music? It is both scientifically and emotionally riveting. It can happen live right in front of you, or be documented and enjoyed after the fact. It can be taught or played by others. Music stands without any question of it's authenticity. No proof necessary. It's there, in many forms, forever and always.

As a musician and music lover, it means everything to me to be a part of the music world. It's my contribution to the universe. It's my nourishment. It's what keeps me from feeling like I'm just floating aimlessly in the void. When I hear John Coltrane play the saxophone or Zigaboo Modeliste play the drums, it is the most honest thing I've ever heard. When I create, perform, or listen to music myself, I'm cozy with euphoria. There is so much to be had in music. For five scary seconds, imagine if music did not exist...that is a grim world. Whether you're creating it, or digging on what has been created, music is beyond important...music is indispensable.”


Ben - Music to Quit your Job

“It’s rather cliche to say Music is life. Music is, quite literally, the air we breathe listen to. Sound waves that permeate our eardrums.

But enough science. Music is art. But really, to explain the importance of Music is to explain Life.

When’s the last time you got a chill? Bet it wasn’t from the weather. How do you calm a fussy baby? It’s not through conflict resolution training. Ever tried pre-gaming in silence, whether you’re Lebron James before game 7 or James Lebron from accounting before a night out with the crew? Good luck bringing home a trophy.

Life is sensory. Music is the nerve center.

Crosby, Stills & Nash, Run DMC and Michael Jackson in elementary school. Beastie Boys and Too Short in junior high. NWA and Metallica in high school. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Alice In Chains and Wu-Tang Clan in college. Mase for my first post-college job. DMX for my first real office job. 2Pac for my first cross-country move. Dr. Dre, Lionel Richie and Luther Vandross while dating my future wife. Coltrane and Outkast for the birth of my first son.

Life is rhythmic. Music is the metronome.

Music is the introduction, the magnet, the wingman, the archive. Like a cliche, Music is universal and basic. Music is also original, fresh, and pioneering. Like life, Music is bigger than a definition, unfathomable yet attainable. Omnipresent yet tangible.

Music is.”


Danny - Music to Blow Your Mind

“It's important to me because it's what I love most in life (other than my family of course). I have had a love affair with music since the moment my parents touched that needle down on the first record they ever played me. Music is a pure form of self expression and can transcend all the bs life has to throw at us. There are so many styles and talented artists that there is something for everyone, I'd wager a guess that music is the only art form that everyone on the planet has some sort of love for or at least an emotional and spiritual connection to from some time in their life. Lastly music made out of joy and for pure love of the game is honest, other musicians and fans know when it's being faked and when its revealing what's really going on.”


Paul - Music to Shake A Hoof

“Why is music important to me, it’s a great question, why do I invest so much of my spare time listening to music, finding new music and rediscovering old music, spending so many hours of the day coming up with new ways to share it all, I could spend that time reading, learning a new skill or in many more productive ways, well maybe I should but that’s not what is important to me, music is and I’m afraid I can’t tell you why, just that it’s as essential to me as eating, but just like the food I eat, I can’t eat the same food day in day out, I need something new continually to nourish me musically and yes sometimes I go back to the favourites or classic and if I find something tasty it needs to be shared or recommended, who doesn’t tell their friends when they find a great new restaurant, well it’s like that with everything I find, my compulsion to share all the new artists or songs I find is just me saying, I like this you might to, but luckily for the world I don’t post my plate of food on Instagram.”


Andrew - music to grieve to

"Music is important to me because I can’t imagine life without it, as Nietzsche said “without music, life would be a mistake.” But why? Why does this thing that isn’t essential for life in the way that food and water or sleep and sex are, find itself in every culture in every society and every civilization that has ever lived?

I’d posit that it comes from a very simple explanation, and that is - music has the power to make us feel good with no negative side effects. I don’t need to understand the how of that or even the why, all I need to know is that it’s true, not just for me but apparently for you too.

From our ancestor’s struggles to hunt enough food to modern day stressors of racism, poverty and pandemics - having something that makes you feel good - without bloating your stomach, eroding your liver or destroying your veins - has immense value."


Image credit: Mohammad Metri on Unsplash


Live Streaming, Discord Servers, Musicto Artist Newsletter – #3

22 May 2020

With Covid turning the world upside down artists are looking for different strategies to engage their fans as well as keep themselves busy. Here’s the skinny from people who know what they’re talking about:


Top 5 Tips for New Streamers
– Jared DeCook, Shaping The Silence

In ‘5 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Streaming’, music producer Jared discusses some of the most important things to think about when venturing into the world of streaming, based on the things he’s learnt over the last seven years as a streamer.


Why You Need a Discord Server
– CelticWolfTV

Credit - George Brynzan,  Unsplash

In this article, streamer CelticWolfTv explains why having a Discord server can be one of the most effective ways to develop a meaningful connection with your audience – and how to do it!


Staying Productive During Lockdown Part I
– Mel Low D

In this ten minute video, professional DJ and tutor Mel Low D discusses some of the ways she’s been managing to stay productive during lockdown. Even if you’re not a DJ don’t worry, because there are some smashing ideas in there that apply to all creatives!


Staying Productive During Lockdown Part II
– Remy Sounds

In this six minute youtube video, producer, DJ and festival runner Remy Sounds shares some of the ways he’s been staying productive during lockdown – including some out of the box thinking about how to stay looking sharp before you stream!


(Every edition we feature an established musicto playlist and – during this time of stay at home – we just couldn’t resist going for this epic road trip – even if it is only in our minds!)

Playlist Spotlight – Music to Burn a Million Miles

Music to Burn A Million Miles Playlist Home Page

featuring artists like

All them witches, Meat Puppets, Johnny Falstaff, Greg Brown, Wayne Hancock, Lucinda Williams, James Leg

Meet the Curator – Chris McCann

Chris Mccann musicto Playlist Curator

Drawn to music from an early age, Chris’ first album was The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations, a record he’d spent weeks saving up his pocket money for.  Now after many years of second hand vinyl markets and countless concerts and festivals, Chris a painter and decorator by day, continues to chase the dragon for that next cool music discovery.  Raised in Brisbane and now operating out of Noosa on Australia’s sunshine coast, you can learn more about Chris at https://www.noosadecorating.com/

Musicto Artist Newsletter – #2

5 March 2020

In this second edition of the musicto artist newsletter, the focus is on identity.

We all know the pain of trying to come up with a name for our project that feels like it fits, only to find it’s been taken by a Metallica tribute act from Birmingham, or - as was the case with our video interview below - launching a project with the wrong name and deciding to pull your album from distribution in order to get it right.

But it’s not just about what we look like. Identity is about who we are as artists: what we believe in, what you sound like and what you choose to project with your music. If you don’t get your identity right, you don’t get your brand right, and in today’s saturated market - you’re going to be pretty hard to find.

As always, if you find this information helpful, be sure to let us know!


Artist Interview — First the Winter
- Andrew McCluskey, musicto Founder

10 curated video clips from a brilliant interview that give true insight into what it's like to get the identity of your band and brand right.

Topics covered include:

  • On Naming Your Project (1:16)

  • On Sacrificing Playlistability (0:40)

  • On Using Spotify Data to Run Social Media Ads (1:48)

  • You Never Turn Down A Gig (0:55)


Artist Interview — Kristen Olsson
- Matt Jenko, musicto Curator

Another artist who’s paid close attention to the significance of identity in the music world is Kristen Olsson. In this interview, we discuss stage names, balancing your identity with the other artist’s vision when collaborating, and gender in the music business. Kristen’s insights were fantastic and it was an absolute pleasure working with her to bring you this interview.


Playlist Spotlight - From Saving the World! to Escaping Reality

 
 
 

When I joined musicto in October 2017, I had a particular flavour of playlist in mind that was influenced heavily by where I was at at the particular point in my life. As time went by, I realised that I was finding it harder to write authentically in the way that I had been, that my voice was changing.

In short, I was going through an identity crisis. Ultimately, I had to decide whether to continue with Save the World!, or embrace a new direction. It’s a creative decision so many of us have to make at some point, as we realise that through growing and developing our craft, we’ve shifted fundamentally from where we were when we started, and in order to continue authentically, we have to confront the need to rebrand.

Looking back, I’m proud of what I achieved with Save the World! - but I don’t regret allowing myself the freedom to explore a new frontier with Escape Reality. Reading over my later entries on my first list, it’s clear to see a tendency towards more escapist, imaginative language, so much so that by the end the leap from one to the other was inevitable.

Meet the Curator - Matt Jenko

 
 

Hello, this isn't the first time we've spoken (if you're awake you may remember I sent you an email last month), but allow me to formally introduce myself: my name's Matt, but my friends call me Matt. I’m on the wrong side of 27 28, definitely feeling my age, but never felt happier and more content than I do at this point in my life. I’ve been through some rocky patches (who hasn’t) and lived to tell the tale, and boy do I gots some stories.

When I’m not putting my soul through existential hell in my day job, I’m making music, drawing pictures (and making them move in time to the groove, playa), and writing about everything from high-concept sci-fi rigamarole to my thoughts on the intricacies of the music industry.

I’ve been curating for musicto for bloody ages now, and am certainly one of the old guard; my fellow curators are like my family. I love belonging to this tribe of like-minded cats.

If you’re into music that paints vivid sonic landscapes, then we’re going to be the best of friends. And if you’re a Westerosi or from Rivia, hmu: I can talk about that all damn day.

Musicto Artist Newsletter – #1

30 January 2020

Hello and welcome to the first musicto artist newsletter - a regular event featuring everything from digital marketing strats and playlist insights, to case studies and stories from artists just like you.

In this first edition, we’ll be concerning ourselves with Spotify playlists and with the pitfalls of starting out in the music industry - two topics I imagine we’re all very familiar with. We’ll also be turning the spotlight on our featured playlist, Music to Explore Everything. And if you find this information helpful, be sure to let us know!


Guest Interview — Tim D’Agostino
Curator of Freestyle Beats & Instrumentals 

When we interviewed Tim in August last year, his playlist was sitting pretty at 22,000 followers. As of today, that playlist now has 27,000. We’re not telling you this to flex. We’re telling you this because this is somebody who knows playlists, and more importantly, knows what makes a good submission. 


Five Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started My Music Career
- Matt Jenko, musicto Curator

Speaking of bad apples, last year I wrote an article about my experiences starting out in the music industry. I fell prey to pretty much every scam you can think of it, and felt like it was my duty to try and make others aware of some of these traps. Chances are you’ll be familiar with a lot of things on there, in which case let’s revel in our shared misfortune.


Playlist Spotlight - Music to Explore Everything

 
 

‘I present to you sounds that will tug at your nerves and create an undeniable shift in the body you lie in and everything around you. This is music to explore ourselves, love, earth, the universe beyond and everything in between. Please make yourself right at home.

If you are someone in need of a creative who knows a few things about digital marketing and audience growth - then I am your gal :) Reach out to me here!

Meet the Curator - Maria Fish

 
 

You can most often find Maria in her garden humming along to an eclectic playlist titled “Life’s a Garden, Dig It” and of course tending to her beloved plants. This garden is located on the island of Kaua’i at her childhood home surrounded by tropical fruit trees and flowers. Beautiful music has always gone hand in hand with the beauty of the island. Just as she nurtures her plants, she looks forward to nurturing this playlist and the community of music lovers that feel like stopping by and having a listen.

Image Credits:
Credit - Casey Allen, Unsplash