I would argue the most important creative tool I have to HAVE with me at all times is not my Mac – or my absurdly large collection of pens and notebooks (try leuchtturm1917.co.uk, if Moleskine is not fancy enough for you) – but my headphones.
Every designer I know listens to music while working to some degree, and no matter what the task (apart from one – more on that later), there always seems to be music to make it go smoother or faster or just more fun.
When I analyzed my musical taste, I realized that like most people, it’s all over the place. I did spot a few trends, and one in particular – escapism. You won’t find any socially-conscious protest songs here, (or anything bleeding-edge cool) – just stuff that puts my brain in the mood to work better.
I had been asked to pick five tracks that I design to – a difficult task. So instead, here are the three main situations I where I need music, and what I often reach for:
When I’m looking for an idea or trying to create build something complicated
Lyrics can be very distracting – I don’t want to hear someone else’s clever thoughts verbalized when I’m straining to get my own idea. So instead I go for movie soundtracks (orchestral/electronic) – my favorite route to that elusive ‘creative zone’:
Vertigo – Bernhard Herman
Inception – Hans Zimmer
Blade Runner – Vangelis
Escape from New York – John Carpenter
Tron Legacy – Daft Punk
When I’m plowing through repetitive tasks – or the office is too distracting
Sometimes you just need to cut the chat and crack on. So I need a wall of sound and (occasionally) an angry lead singer:
Berzerk – Eminem
Music Inferno – Madonna
Pressure Off – Duran Duran
Black Sweat – Prince
Upside Down and Inside Out – OK GO
When I’m getting close to a deadline, and need to chill out a bit
Time moves very fast when you are approaching a deadline. So this is what I use to lower my heart rate a little…
InTime – FKA Twigs
Manner of Words – East India Youth
Miracle – Kimbra
Jo – Goldfrapp
And the ONE task where I can’t listen to my music when I’m designing? When I am previewing track after track (after track!) on Audionetwork.com – to use in one of our video projects.