3 Harkive Example Contributions
Harkive is an online popular music research project that gathers stories from people about the detail of their music listening. It runs on a single day each year, and since launching in 2013 has gathered over 5,000 unique stories from people all over the world.
People tell their stories in a variety of ways. Some compose a series of tweets throughout the day, some upload photos to Instagram. Others tell slightly longer stories, either in the form of reflective essays, or detailed chronological lists. Taken as a whole, the contributions received are growing into a fascinating archive of music listening stories that we hope will provide insight into the way we interact with music. All the different methods are listed on the ‘how to contribute’ page of the project website, where you can also find out more about the project.
Each year, in the run up to the big day, we post example contributions from interesting people working in and around popular music. A few of the example contributions we’ve published in previous years have been of the longer, more detailed variety described above. As we said in our introductory post to Medium, where we re-posted an example contribution from Suede’s Neil Codling, this is the perfect forum for pieces of this nature and this year we’re inviting people who wish to tell their story in a more detailed way to share them with us here.
To tell your story on Medium, simply include the word harkive and the text of your story, or tag the post with the word harkve, and we’ll do the rest.
Here are three more example contributions from the Harkive vaults….
Joe Muggs is Editor in Chief at Boiler Room TV, and has previously worked as a music journalist, writing for MixMag, The Arts Desk and The Wire, and as A&R for the FineTunes label. Joe contributed his example in 2013, the first year of Harkive.
Here is Joe’s listening day from March 2013:
8.30am Had a bad night with a howling infant so walk to cafe down the road to clear my head. Still in CD Walkman from last night is the new album by Roger Eno & Plumbline. Last four tracks on that then first two on the new Memory Band record take the edges off as I walk down then wait for the cafe to open.
9.00am Cafe, being hearty, healthy and artisanal, is playing Toots & The Maytals, which is nice.
9.10am Last night I was in the studio with Joel Culpepper; his friend Kay Young was on Logic Audio duties and adding vocal ideas, so this morning I check out some of her stuff on YouTube. It’s great: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBfjfKzVf-0
9.25am click through a link on Facebook to see what Young People are listening to in London, and it seems it’s this: http://www.mtviggy.com/blog-posts/adam-cotiers-deep-tech-house-is-where-its-at/ — very, very old sounding house music.
9.37am Cafe has switched to a 2-Tone compilation
9.41am I see Pete Paphides has joined This Is My Jam and has posted this as his “Jam”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLSGYA3GZXs
9.55am Listening to a load of untagged mp3s for a new label I’m working on, run by the man like Quest and featuring a lot of the most talented people from the dubstep scene flexing their musical muscles at other tempos… Exciting.
10.15am back to vintage ska in the café…
10.42am they’re playing ‘My Boy Lollipop’, feeling very jaunty
10.52am a friend messaged me on Facebook first thing, something about “proper techno coming back”, with this link — https://soundcloud.com/tracques/tracques-album-sampler — just got round to listening to it… mental.
11.15am heading out, sad to find that the Timberlake album doesn’t stream on iPhone, so resort to my standard listening choice at the moment which is a free album of amazingly dark and introspective post-Radiohead R&B by this guy Log.Os from L.A. http://theneedledrop.com/2011/11/the-log-os-λόγος/ — it makes the experience of nipping into Sainsburys, which is full of staff standing around awkwardly in deelyboppers and bear costumes for Red Nose Day, rather more interesting.
11.43am got to the office, Timberlake stream on
11.44am it’s not working so watching a clip of a boy playing grime while a girl plays drums http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fToGA-SNWuE
11.52am discover… while researching… that the Timberlake album is all over the Torrents. Obviously don’t illegally download it but struggle manfully with getting the stream to work, zone off into it while taking care of emails.
12.39pm see a link to a bootleg of Julio Bashmore’s ‘Au Seve’. Suddenly realise that I’ve never knowingly heard the “big tune of the moment” so look for it on Spotify, find it — Julio Bashmore — Au Seve — and go “oh it’s THAT one”, then go “not surprised it’s the big tune of the moment.” Then check out the bootleg: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X98ukgpr8T8 Which makes me very happy in its absolute cheesiness and shamelessness. Click through to the buy page on Beatport, and snigger at the fact it’s been charted by “djslagsnake”.
12.44pm back to Timberlake, in the middle of a massive guitar solo
— music free while I try and concentrate —
2.12pm listen to my own old DJ mix while I eat http://thisisluckyme.com/mixtapes/108-joe-muggs-dug-drug-dub-mixtape/ — not entirely out of vanity, but because I just got commissioned to do an article related to the time period it references so it’s revision.
2.40pm bounce through some tracks for the ‘Grime 2.0′ compilation I put together as I do a bit of a social media push on it.
3.55pm: listen through five times to a remix that El-B has done for Joel Culpepper
4.05pm: spot that Pev’s new release is out, listen to it on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9b0hp-g3Jb0 — bemoan that I have no proper speakers in my office. God, it’s good though. Post it on social networks with “THIS IS HOW I LIKE MY TECHNO” next to it.
4.12pm: going through zip file after zip file that I’ve downloaded from emails or Facebook / Twitter tips today… flick through one which is promo of an album by Benoit Pioulard which I downloaded because the PR mail said it was “sumptuous” and it sounds like it actually is, note to listen to it properly later.
4.14pm: unzip an absolutely amazing bit of clattery, organic sounding techno by someone called Stucco — it’s a bit much for me but note that for later too.
4.25pm: head for the bus home… somehow the Justin Timberlake album has found its way onto my phone, which is weird, so I listen to it all the way home.
4.45pm my 3 year old had dancing at nursery today and says he enjoyed dancing to Queen, so I get ‘Under Pressure’ up on YouTube on my phone (first device to hand) for him and plug it into speakers.
— Kids dinner / bath / bed — completely media-free —
7pm-11.30pm: the kids in bed, I have a whole set of reviews to do, so over a couple of beers, with laptop and headphones listen to the Timberlake album one more time, give it five stars, then have a few listens the following which I review as part of the FACT Singles Club:
Justin Timberlake — Suit & Tie (Four Tet remix) [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVwtBBpkAJc]
The Knife — A Tooth for an Eye [https://soundcloud.com/brille-records/the-knife-a-tooth-for-an-eye-1]
James Blake feat. Brian Eno — Digital Lion [https://soundcloud.com/selftitledmag/james-blake-digital-lion]
Earl Sweatshirt — Whoa [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anRkutaPS9w]
Hyetal — Northwest Passage [https://soundcloud.com/hyetal/northwest-passage]
Les Sins — Grind / Prelims [https://soundcloud.com/caribouband/les-sins-grind / https://soundcloud.com/caribouband/sets/les-sins-grind-prelims]
Gerry Read — You Don’t Like It [https://soundcloud.com/gerryread/you-dont-like-it]
Jude Rogers is a music writer (Observer, Q Magazine, The Word) who kept a record of her music listening on 16th May 2013 as an example post ahead of Harkive 2013
8.30 — Turn Today programme over to 6Music, to have it on in the background while starting work, having breakfast. Love a song, assume it’s a post-punk/indiepop song from the early ‘80s. Find out it’s Bleached’s Dead In The Head. (I love how radio doesn’t give you context until you hear the presenter — it allows you to make must more honest judgements.) Nearly consider turning it off when Vampire Weekend’s Diane Alone (not a fan) and Lionrock (bad end of the ‘90s) come on…but then love something else, which turns out to be Gaz Coombes’ One Of These Days. Haven’t listened to 6 in the daytime for a while, because I can’t usually work to lyrics — I end up typing them up.
9.30 — Working on a script for a Radio 4 programme, for which I have to provide music. Need a song which represents drunkenness or intoxication, and currently have Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit (which I play three times on Spotify). Ask Twitter, who recommend others. Watch videos for Queens Of The Stone Age’s Feelgood Hit Of The Summer, Electrik Red’s Drink In My Cup and A Pair Of Brown Eyes by The Pogues on YouTube. Decide to stick with Jefferson Airplane.
10.45 — Stream of Pet Shop Boys’ new album arrives on email. Spend next hour playing it and live-tweeting excitement like a teenager. Play track 3, Love Is A Bourgeois Construct, five or six times, plugging Mac into main speakers to listen to the discoed-up sample of Michael Nyman’s Chasing Sheep loudly. Pause several times to write down lyrics about Tony Benn and the penal code.
11.45 — Stop Pet Shop Boys to do some work. Accidentally spend hour-and-a-half in silence.
13.30 — After lunch, watch trailer for new Franz Ferdinand album (sent by email) then play Michael off the band’s first album through YouTube.
13.40 — Play new Maps single sent by email from publicist, on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/muterecords/maps-a-m-a/s-q1qhG
13.50 — Turn Radcliffe and Maconie on on 6Music while sending invoices. Gaz Coombes again. Look at his website and think about buying a limited edition 12-inch of the song — decide not to when it’s £11.99 (£8.99 plus £3 p&p).
14.20 — Writing all afternoon. Put on favourite writing album, Roedelius’ Wenn Der Sudwind Weht on Spotify, three times.
16.00 — Break for cuppa. Play John Grant’s Sigourney Weaver and Sensitive New Age Guy on Spotify (saw him last night at the Shepherds’ Bush Empire). Add Sensitive New Age guy to my Spotify DJing playlist. Make it my thisismyjam pick of the week, and tweet/Facebook this.
16.15 — Play Pet Shop Boys’ Love Is A Bourgeois Construct again through the record company stream, twice.
16.30 — Carry on working. Play Talk Talk playlist on Spotify. Bit obsessed with this at the moment. Only have six tracks on it — Taphead, April 5th, Such A Shame (original), Such A Shame (1997 remaster), Chameleon Day and Have You Heard The News. Particularly obsessed with Such A Shame (Original)’s chorus, after the line “eagerness to change”. Melody makes me well up every time. Still can’t work out how a musical interval can do this. Something to do with chemistry, possibly. You feel it in your bones.
16.50 — Click on Spotify Artist Radio. Have found this a great way of liking similar artists to ones I like — the algorithm seems to work usually. Not great to *do* work to today, however. Shamefully skip Bronski Beat’s Why? as it pops up while I’m on a bit of writing roll and it’s too obtrusive. Ditto Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence. Roxy Music’s More Than This and The The’s Twilight Hour better.
20.00 — Few hours off, now listen to husband’s iPod through the kitchen door while making dinner. Taylor Dupree, record called Faint, from 2012. Nice ambient electronics — make mental note to Spotify him on weekend.
21.45 — Car races down our road blasting out loud/bad EDM/R&B song. Google lyrics on iPhone and it’s Chris Brown’s “Turn Up The Music”. Realise how odd it is for him to be in the news all the time and me not really know any of his songs. Fight back by turning telly up.
Lyle Bignon is a music PR and Promoter. He is also a freelance writer for The 405 and Counteract. Lyle spent Monday 1st July 2013 keeping a record of his music listening in order to write this example post ahead of Harkive 2013.
Here’s is Lyle’s listening day from Monday 1 July 2013
0700 My DAB radio dragged me from a dream about guns and waterfalls with Shaun Keaveny on BBC 6 Music. This morning it was all Glastonbury froth in between tracks, though out of the seven I heard being played (Foals, Groove Armada, Human League, Arctic Monkeys, The Vaccines, Janelle Monae and Jagwar Ma) only one was taken from the festival over the weekend. Thank fuck; my self-imposed Glasto blackout was infringed a number of times already in the past week or so.
It’s usually the 6 Music Breakfast Show or the Today on BBC Radio 4 that gets me up, depending on what the day ahead is due to bring work-wise. It’s always useful to get the morning news agenda early on: arts related reports, Matt Everitt’s music news or artist interviews can often suggest ideas for content to put out via Town Hall and Symphony Hall’s social media channels later that morning to get conversation flowing…and to, y’know, *PR face* ‘stay on trend’. 6 Music’s morning output is usually eclectic enough to maintain my interest, and whilst the often Damon Albarn/Smiths/Stone Roses-centric playlist does my head in from time to time, an occasional curveball such as a KRS-1 track or a song by The Orb keeps me going back for more.
0730 I use my laptop hooked up to a sound system to have the radio on during breakfast, whilst skimming messages, emails, Twitter, Facebook, BBC online, the Guardian, Music Week etc.
0800 My morning commute soundtrack is pretty much always delivered by Spotify or Soundcloud via iPhone. This morning it’s a mix of selected songs from Congo Natty’s blistering new album Jungle Revolution , uploaded by Big Dada recordings on their Soundcloud stream (and later removed as the album has dropped today but it’s on the Guardian Music site), plus a bouncy track by Yacht via the DFA Records stream and a remix from Moscow fireman-turned-beatmaker 813 via his stream, before I switch to UK hip hop EP End of Level Boss Music from Percy Filth & Mylo Stone over on Spotify.
On Soundcloud, I’ll often just scan through the latest uploads in my stream, looking for familiar names of artists, labels, promoters or media outlets and play whatever looks more of interest. I’m more likely to go for something that has been put out by an artist than any other type of user; it annoys me when majors like Atlantic Records or media outlets like the BBC World Service publish a batch of sounds at once clogging my feed. In my head, this is The Man is preventing me from getting to the real gems out there. In reality, I should probably clean up my follows.
I’ve been paying for a Spotify Premium account for around 18 months now, and have taken advantage of the offline mode to build Top 100 and Best of 2013 playlists (both work in progress) as well as downloading playlists from Domino Records, This Is My Jam, Blue Note Records and adding full albums that I’ve either reviewed or discovered through recommendations, browsing etc. It’s for lazy consumers, doesn’t remunerate artists fairly IMHO and is bloody convenient.
0830 I’m in the office and fire up Last.fm on my work PC to listen to my library + recommended mix. It throws out Steel Pulse, Villagers, The Knife, Desmond Dekker, Camille, Jose James, Deptford Goth, Kavinsky, Steve Reich, Beastie Boys, Nightmares on Wax, Hooded Fang, Austra, Chromeo, Dexys, Grace Jones, Ry Cooder, Cerys Matthews, The Melodians and Tribes amongst others. If you’re into digital voyeurism, you can peep my playlist here.
Free School radio on Last.fm has been getting a lot of plays the last few weeks, delivering plenty of space disco, Motorik and Balearic loveliness — I’ve come across some absolutely incredible music in the past few weeks thanks to this particular station. Check out the duo’s debut release Tender Administration for some delightful cosmic sounds when you have a hot minute.
I’ve recently rekindled my love affair with Last.fm, partly because Spotify’s ‘related artists’ feature wasn’t cutting it for me. I also wanted to compare the level of service between bigger music streaming platforms. I don’t subscribe to Last.fm but the more I’m using it again, the more I feel like I should be — I’m finding a lot of great artists and tracks via the site. I love the stats side of Last.fm too. Seeing who and what I’ve been listening to most at different times is fascinating — I can use them to pinpoint various black or hypomanic moods, projects, discoveries, places I’ve been etc.
1145 I discover Specials founder and all round eclectic selecter Jerry Dammers is playing a DJ set at a local music venue in August, the day after Brazilian sambass and DnB king DJ Marky is due to play. And it’s a Bank Holiday. Rejoice. Tweet and Facebook it.
1200 Whilst reading through the weekend papers, I come across a pretty awesome interview with Janelle Monae by Kate Mossman for the Observer. Devour. Tweet and Facebook it.
1215 Working with the Jazzlines team over the past 12 months has opened my ears to a metric fuckton of jazz music that I had no idea previously existed — from fairly established artists like
Portico Quartet, Roller Trio and Jose James (who is phenomenal) to newish bands like Melt Yourself Down who are pretty damn cool too.
We’re also fortunate to live in a city which has a flourishing jazz scene, and one that cross pollinates with electronica, hip hop, funk, soul and plenty more, and through various projects, gigs and artistic partnerships I’ve been introduced to some of the best artists and ensembles currently performing and recording in Birmingham. Today I’m looking over PR and biographies for Jonathan Silk (with his big band) and Mike Fletcher (with his Coltrane/Reich influenced project Night Train). Both tasks inevitably involve taking a listen to their music via so I have an idea of their sound — the artists have uploaded their work to Soundcloud, though for Mike I went via his website first.
1300 Catch the local news (BBC WM) via the web player on my work PC for the headlines, then flick back over to Last.fm for a few hours.
I’ve been sent a couple of promo copy CDs of artists whose shows I might be working on, but as (a) they are already out on general release so I can stream them (b) my work PC’s sound is lame and (b) I don’t want to listen to them, they go on the pile to perhaps be used for a competition prize at some point in the future.
Earlier I read about a man who drove out to Death Vally in near-record temperatures of 51 degrees for an Associated Press feature. He wasn’t able to keep an electronics or CDs in the motor (which was black, adding a few extra degrees of heat inside) because they’d melt. I wanted to write something clever here drawing parallels between the end of the world and the demise of physical music formats but ran out of juice. Sorry.
1400 I’ve been emailed a link to a video to potentially embed in a blog post on an emerging artist. The post is already live and constructed of around 150 words, two Soundcloud embeds and a lead photo, and unfortunately although the sound quality on the YouTube clip is good, but the visuals are made up entirely of photos so I skip through it for maybe 45 seconds before deciding not to use it.
1445 I come across a behind-the-scenes explanation of how this promotional ad (which I was slightly involved in) came about. Interesting to note where the music sync came from in the director’s post here.
1600 Last.fm times out, most of my colleagues are out at meetings so we have a little bit of music-free peace for an hour or so, which is complemented beautifully by drilling from the big fuck off building site outside my office.
1800 Five minutes of Rinse FM via the TuneIn app on iPhone before some inconsiderate sod calls me.
1830 I’m back home and I’ve thrown on Sistrionix by LA rock and roll duo Deap Vally via Deezer on the laptop. I interviewed the guitarist/singer Lindsey last week for The 405 and spent a few hours yesterday writing up an 1800 word feature. The private stream I’d been sent by Island Records expired today, and anyway most of the delivery platforms labels use — like PlayMPE — are a bit rickety and not awfully user-friendly. It was nice to hear the record in full for pleasure, knowing I’d filed the interview.
Speaking of which, the next album on the PlayMPE list is Body Music by Aluna George, which I’m reviewing for The 405. It’s on and so far, so good — the stream is pretty consistent. I lose interest after 4 tracks though. I’ll revisit it again in the next day or two.
1915 I’ve just spotted an interesting story on Twitter about the producer Zomby blasting a Pitchfork writer about incorrect claims in an interview. After reading the Line Of Best Fit’s quick news story on the ‘incident’ I’ve flipped back into my music folder and found a track called Godzilla by Zomby off the DJ Kicks Gold Panda release. That gets a play then it’s dinner, whilst the player slaloms through my tracks on random — TLC, Scratch Perverts, Robyn Hitchcock, Grinderman, Gilles Peterson, Elvis Presley, Major Lazer & La Roux, London Elektricity, Feist and Max Romeo.
I’ve always been one for compilation albums and the old shuffle function. As much as I love to play seminal albums like London’s Burning, Strange Days, Graceland, 3 Feet High And Rising or Handsworth Revolution straight through in chronological order, the linear path of newer albums — unless it’s a concept album like Janelle Monae’s Archandroid — means little to me anymore. Shame, that.
2000 I’m off to see the brilliant Matthew E. White at Birmingham’s Glee Club tomorrow night, and it’s been a while since I’ve hammered his album Big Inner, so the mp3 version gets a couple of spins through my stereo via Windows Media Player. See here for my dirty listening habits.
2100 Whilst reading back through the notes I’ve made for Harkive today, I’ve been reminded of a number of tracks I want to listen to, so between my local music folder, Spotify and Soundcloud, I have a short but intense blast of tracks from Samuel Barber, Orbital, GZA, Wrongtom and CocoRosie. What a festival line-up that would be.
2130 Whilst finishing off an email I stretch my foot out and accidentally dislodge the pile of 7” vinyls that sits under my desk. This action launches a weird stream of consciousness thing where I wonder if we’ll all have memory cards implanted in our temples in 100 years and can shuffle through tracks and albums with just the power of thought, and whether in the grim and most likely dystopian future all physical forms of music will be outlawed under threat of death by some awful mechanical hound. I look up the last track I’ve listened to, in search of a sign, a message, anything. Hall & Oates, I Can’t Go For That. That’s enough for one day.
If you’ve enjoyed those stories about music listening and would like to tell your own, please join us on Tuesday 21st July 2015 for Harkive. More details can be found on the project website: www.harkive.org