blog

A Dig Through My Spotify Profile, Part 3

This is part 3 of a journey through my Spotify profile. If you haven’t, check out part 1 and part 2.

After albums comes a weird folder named Curated. A while back, presumably bummed out about not being at Glastonbury, I decided to organise an online festival. For a week, I encouraged my friends to make Spotify playlists representing the stage of their choice, and to my surprise, they listened. Spotstock ran for three years, producing wonders such as The Trouser Tent, The Martini Roso Stage, The Dubstep Room and At The Movies. I keep every Spotstock year in a folder. For a long time, I ran a small webapp displaying them all, but that’s gone now. Perhaps I should get it back online.

Finally, I have my monthly playlists. I can’t remember why I started this. It was definitely after I saw a friend do it, but I’m not sure who. It’s become my way of trying to recreate the way I used to listen to music. In the good old days, I would buy CDs and stack them up next to my CD player - that stack would rotate slowly and I’d listen to those same albums over and over. After a while, I’d get bored of them and they’d enter the rack, to be replaced by another album - sometimes old, sometimes new. By listening to the same albums over and over, I gained a deeper understanding of them. With the advent of streaming music, it’s too easy to flow from one album to the next, never really listening to the same thing twice. The unit of music that is the album has been pushed into the background by our current music climate. To counter this somewhat, I keep a monthly playlist of anything I’m listening to - if I like it, I stick it on the list. I have no other rules - some albums crop up month after month, sometimes I put a lot of music in there, sometimes I have very little. There is rarely any coherence. It’s not an ideal solution, as I often neglect to actually look at the monthly playlist, but it’s something. For example, my working music this month has been very varied. January 2017 was a slightly more themed month in which I was on a bit of a riot grrl binge. December 2010 kicks off with the soundtrack to The Matrix - what a find! I’ve been doing this since September 2010.

So, finally, that’s the end of my Spotify playlists. What a journey!

A Dig Through My Spotify Profile, Part 2

This is part 2 of a journey through my Spotify profile. If you haven’t, check out part 1.

Moving on, I have a folder of collaborative playlists. I can’t link any of these, as they’re semi-private, but among them I have Our Favourite Songs, which a group of us started some time prior to 2010. I have no idea how many people have looked at it over the years. We add things to it now and then. It is now 40 hours long, containing 619 songs. The quality of songs on there is extremely variable. I also have three related playlists from my friend Darren, who, upset at the lack of Boards of Canada on Spotify (mercifully rectified today), asked for our help in finding music that is “Like Boards of Canada”, “Not Quite Like Boards of Canada”, and “Not Like Boards of Canada”. They remain an excellent resource.

After that comes the “Other People” folder, a home for playlists made by other people. Here I collect things that people have sent me as well as a few things like a playlist from BBC 6 Music’s Anthems show. Movie soundtracks, such as 10 Things I Hate About You and Human Traffic live here, as does Ryan Davis’s Realest Summerjams.

I have a folder called Albums, which is largely redundant now that Spotify keeps better track of albums you listen to. Not much to report here, but I’m going to link you to Envy’s Set Yourself on Fire, because it’s good and you should listen to it, and Gescom’s Mini Disc, because it’s a fascinating concept album that you’ve probably never heard of.

Can you believe that I'm not finished yet? More in part 3.

A Dig Through My Spotify Profile, Part 1

I’ve been using Spotify for a long time. I’m not 100% sure when I started using it, but it launched in 2008 and when I gave out invites to my friends, one of them took a 2 character username, so I guess it must have been 2008 or 2009. I have been using playlists from the start - I even have collaborative playlists from before they stored the date in which each song was added. Deep in all of this, there are some real gems, so I thought I’d dive through them and dig some up.

At the top of my playlists I have Spotify’s Discover Weekly, which is always good for new music hunting, and my Starred playlist. Starring songs went away for quite sensible reasons sometime after 2013, but my starred songs still represent an excellent selection of my favourite music.

After that, everything’s in folders. I remember when playlist folders arrived in Spotify - it was a very, very good day.

I have an “offline” folder that I rotate things through, to make it easy to track them on my phone and quickly download them. A lot of stuff rolls through here, depending on my mood, but right now, my Holiday mix is all that’s in there worth mentioning.

My next folder is entitled “Things I Made”. This folder contains all my timeless playlists, ranging from a braindump of every bit of music that I find helps me be productive to quite carefully built mixtapes like Maccy’s Lovely Summer and Fun Spring Stuff. I also have a few gems like this collation of albums from a Reddit thread listing classic albums from the past 10 years.

To be continued in my next post!

Cool Stuff My Friends Have Done Recently

I have a lot of awesome friends doing awesome things. Lately there’s been a few in a row, and I want to tell you about them. I hope you don’t mind. If you do mind, you can stop reading now. Sorry to have bothered you!

Small Tales and Fairy Fails - Paul Duffield

Paul’s one of those people who just makes amazing thing after amazing thing, and his latest Kickstarter is for yet another amazing thing: a collection of five of his recent comics spanning from futuristic science fiction to a medieval knights-n-magic-'em-up. It’s less a Kickstarter and more of a pre-order (Plus it's already funded), it’s got 48 hours left at time of writing, and it looks great. Look at it.

The Unicorn and the Woodsman - Kate Brown

Kate also does comics - you might recognise her work in Young Avengers and Nelson. This lovely little book arrived on my doorstep the other day and, crime of crimes, I haven’t had time to read it, but it’s gorgeous. If you don’t believe me, just look at the sample pages on the store.

Sunless Sea - Failbetter Games

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably stumbled upon Fallen London at some point. I’ve never been one for web-based games, so I haven’t played it, but people tell me it’s ace, and it’s pretty clear that I’m an idiot for avoiding it all these years - Failbetter is obviously an awesome company (just read this blog post) and the story is right up my street.

Anyway, that’s not what I’m on about. Failbetter made that, and now they’ve made this: Sunless Sea. If you read any gaming press you’ve probably read about it, and the reason you’ve read about it is my friend Hannah Flynn, who is now their marketing manager. Sunless Sea takes the Fallen London world, with all that writing and delicious backstory, and puts it into a game about sailing and going mad that I’m far more up for playing. Nice one, Han! It's great to see really story-heavy games like this and 80 Days becoming so popular.

It's available on Steam now.

The Bearded Man - Must Kill Chris

My recently-acquired brother-in-law makes music, and it's always been good, but his latest album is something special. The production is good enough that I thought it was a full studio release when I got home to find it playing in my kitchen, and it's even got a song about Bruce Campbell on it. Check it out! He's also been putting together some pretty fantastic videos which show off his stunning beard.

Some Quick Notes on a Wedding

I am, as I'm sure you can understand, a little short on time, but I wanted to jot down a few thoughts about my wedding before I vanish for a bit. I'll start by saying that I simply can't do it justice in words and that I am absolutely delighted with how it all went.

I want to thank everyone again. "thank you" is a phrase that unfortunately is a little one-size-fits-all in our language, I think, so you will just have to take my word for it that this is the kind of thank you that comes with the underlying knowledge of an eternal debt - I will spend my days hoping that somehow, some day, I will have the capacity to make you feel as happy as you have all made me feel this weekend. I will thank as many of you personally as I possibly can, but it will take time to get around you all.

I feel like I didn't speak to anyone enough over the course of the weekend, so I'm very sorry if you feel like I missed you! Everyone who has been married tells me this is a standard feeling. The thing is, you're all brilliant, and I could spend a lifetime just talking to any one of you. Just drop me a line sometime, we’ll catch up. I never have any emails to reply to and I’d love to know how you’re doing.

Finally a few notes on specifics that are important: the readings were Wedding Poem by Neil Gaiman and a passage from Are You Dave Gorman? by Dave Gorman. The tables were all named after our favourite books (at least, books with reasonably short titles). The music played while we waited for Kristy can be found on Spotify here and the music for the rest of the ceremony can be found here. The entire playlist from the evening can be found here.

Our photographer was the amazing Rachel Movitz and our DJ was DJ Hammy, Who used to DJ at The Rhino in Southampton - my old stomping ground. Our cake was made by Catherine Scott, who must be some kind of wizard.

Stag Weekend

I have a hard time buying presents for people. I fret and worry about how it will be received, what the present means for the other person, what the act of giving says about our relationship. Will they like it? By giving it, will I reveal that I know nothing about the person I am giving to? Receiving a present puts me in a similar boat. To receive a present you don’t like is to realise that someone else doesn’t know you like you thought they did. Surprises are the same. Stag weekends are the same. When your friends begin planning a weekend for you, you hope, and you pray, that they are, in fact, your friends. That they know how to show you a good time.

“Everything is under control”, said the text message I received from my best man in response to a question about booking holiday in preparation for the stag weekend. “Just maybe get your most important work done in the morning.”

Surprises are few and far between in today’s world. We know the weather, the traffic, the news. Everything is predictable, everything can be planned months in advance. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be blessed with a surprise as big as this: I knew they were coming for me on Friday. I knew I had to topload my day as best as I could. Beyond that, I was in the dark. I knew absolutely nothing, and my boys did an amazing job of keeping it that way. Work told me that some investors would be in the office on Friday and to ask my groomsmen to keep it subdued, so that they were not disturbed. I elected to hide this information from the groomsmen, lest it stopped them in their tracks, but as it turned out, I was victim to the most civilised kidnapping ever. They arrived in suits, kindly asked me to leave the office, put me in a car, and drove. I didn’t ask where we were going and they didn’t tell me. We drove past Andover and I feared for my life a little, but fortunately we did not stop.

We did, however, arrive in Winchester, where we went to college, and pulled up at the Hotel Du Vin. I was handed a suit jacket, led inside, and treated to a delightful meal. It was remarkably civilised. I was really happy to have the time to sit down with my groomsmen before the presumably impending carnage, but I couldn’t help but feel like they were setting me up for something. We got back in the car and kept driving. I didn’t ask where we were going and they didn’t tell me.

An hour or so later we arrived at a beautiful house in the New Forest. It was big enough to sleep 10-20 people so for the first time I had a rough idea of how many people were coming, and as they unpacked the car, I learned that this was definitely where we would be for a lot of the weekend: they had brought an estate car full of food and toys, including a LOT of board games, a TV (for the house’s included TV was not sufficient) and a PC. People started arriving shortly after and I spent the night catching up with old friends and playing games. I ran a lot of games of One Night Ultimate Werewolf, which were all absolutely fantastic.

On Saturday, I shook off my raging hangover in time to settle around a huge table for a tutored wine and food tasting run by my good friend Sam. A lot of people reading this will know this guy, but if you don’t: Sam’s a wizard. Endlessly knowledgeable about wine, it turns out he’s also pretty spot on about food. He ran us through 8 bottles of wine, each paired with a particular nibble (almost entirely cooked by him, too). By the time we were done, merry was an understatement for some people, and the game of Ladies and Gentlemen that followed was the loudest board game I have ever heard. I’m actually quite glad I wasn’t involved.

Games continued into the night, coupled with a seriously good chilli cooked by Maisey and a lot of cocktails. We drank a lot, we talked a lot of nonsense, and life was good.

Sunday came around all too soon and we were all endlessly grateful to Trim for his homemade bacon - a truly epic breakfast - and my groomsmen and I squeezed in a game of Risk Legacy before it was time to leave.

When your friends begin planning a weekend for you, you expect mayhem, you fear that they will leave you handcuffed to a lamppost in a blizzard. It turns out that my friends know me better than I thought. There were times during the weekend when I had to swallow down a serious lump in my throat. I was so touched that they’d go to so much effort for me. I am truly honoured, and eternally grateful. Thanks, you guys.