On Tuesday 19th July Harkive will return for its fourth year to once again collect stories online from people about the detail of their music listening experience.
The project asks people to tell the tale of How, Where and Why they listen to music on a single day each year, with the aim of capturing for posterity a snapshot of the way in which we interact with the sounds and technology of today. Since launching in 2013 the project has gathered over 8,000 stories, and on Tuesday 19th July we’ll be doing it all again. We hope you’ll join us by telling Harkive your story.
We’re now on the final countdown to Harkive 2016, with just 5 days to go. As we have done in previous years, in the run up to the big day we’ll be posting some ‘example’ stories from people who do interesting things with their music listening. Today we welcome musician William Doyle.
After releasing two acclaimed albums as East India Youth, William is now heading up your wilderness revisited, a multimedia art project that looks at how we interact and engage with British post-war suburban environments, specifically new places built in the last 30 years, while also considering the challenge of their designs for the future. The project focuses on the questions and concerns of human individuality within the suburban built environment, and how the development of these places affects the harmony – both socially and ecologically – that is sought within them. The work of your wilderness revisited will eventually be compiled into an audio/visual exhibition that will include photography, video art and music working together to create a unique look at our surroundings, and to inspire discussion to help people better engage with their own.
William kindly agreed to keep a record of his music listening one day earlier this month, and here is his story.
I start every morning by doing around 20 to 30 minutes meditation, and then will often sit afterwards and listen to one or two songs on headphones and just focus on them, letting them help the day begin. This morning I listen to ‘Blackpool Late Eighties’ by James Holden, from his album The Inheritors, an album which only seems to improve upon each listen. It’s really one of the greatest released in the last decade, and I find the spaciousness and depth of the production on it to be transportive and inspiring.
I then head downstairs and do the washing up. This is a routine I’m enjoying at the moment since the washing up is fairly low concentration job and so I can really hone in what I’m listening to. Today I opt for the radio. I’ve been a big BBC 6 Music listener for the last 8 or 9 years now, although my frequency of listening habit will fluctuate. Starting the day listening to Shaun Keaveny’s breakfast show is almost guaranteed to make me laugh or smile and you can’t really ignore the positive effect this has on the rest of your day.
This morning’s highlights over an hour of listening are ‘Customer Service’ by Jurassic 5 (which I’ve heard twice recently so I’m guessing it’s new?), ‘Silvering’ by Lonelady, ‘Here Comes The Breeze’ by Gomez (which I don’t really enjoy, but I do when impersonating the singer with the higher-pitched bluesy voice), the new Róisín Murphy tune ‘Ten Miles High’, and ‘Life Itself’ by Glass Animals (which has some really strange lyrics.) The last tune I leave on is Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve’s ‘Black Crow’ featuring the wonderful Holly Miranda on vocals. It reminds me that I need to listen to the BTWS album as everything I’ve heard so far has been brilliant, and so I decide to set aside time later to dive in. My good friend Hannah Peel contributed vocals over this album and ‘Diagram Girl’ is one of my favourite songs in the last year.
Next I finish watching ‘I Often Dream of Trains In New York’ which is a live recording of Robyn Hitchcock playing his classic album ‘I Often Dream of Trains’ accompanied by guitarist Tim Keegan and multi-instrumentalist Terry Edwards, who seems to be cropping up a lot in my musical thoughts lately (I’m a big fan Terry, if you’re reading!). The reason I’m watching this is for research as I want to do a piece of writing on this album. It’s been hugely influential to me over the years and it has been even more so recently. I think it’s a generally overlooked wonder. The film is great as well, with interview snippets in between some songs that shed some insight into the history of the album.
The most music I listen to after this point is all of my own. I’m working on a lot of music at the moment and try to dedicate 7 or 8 hours daily to this. This doesn’t sound like much time but with some focus over 2 hour increments, you wind up getting a lot done without becoming tired and frustrated. Tiredness and frustration lead me to tinkering and making useless changes, listening to the same part over and over again, so a concentrated period is better than an endlessly sprawling one.
Today the results of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war are published. I listen to ‘Harrowdown Hill’ by Thom Yorke. Chills. Through the filter of everything that’s been going on, the song’s tone of an acknowledged darkness feels strong even outside of the context of the lyrics. This feeling catches me off-guard for a moment. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrowdown_Hill
I listen to Beyond The Wizard Sleeve’s album The Soft Bounce in the bath. Slightly misjudged the setting for it, but the sound of it is incredible. Going to give it some more goes tomorrow, but I think they’ve made a winner.
Today, after recalling some kind of industrial dub atmosphere lodged deep in my memory and after a bit of searching, I remember that producer Adrian Sherwood had something to do with a track that had an effect on me at some point. I’d only heard it once but remember it vividly for some reason. This is quite a common occurrence for me, however I rarely note things down at the time as I prefer them to be held in that moment as much as possible, and if they return to me later then it’s a fun experiment to try to uncover it. It takes me a while to search through Sherwood’s massive discography but the track turns out to be ‘Fade Away’ by New Age Steppers, which was the first single released on his On-U Sound label. I then spend 45 minutes listening to the self titled album that it features on and I’m pleased to have uncovered this right now. I think I’ve been unconsciously adding dub-like effects to drum machine parts in some new songs I’m working on, so it’s nice to hear some sonic ideas in this context that I could perhaps go further on.
Finish the day, as I often do, with a play on Brian Eno and Peter Chilver’s Trope app. Final thought: We need more generative music.
If you enjoyed William’s example and would like to tell your own Harkive story in a similar way, you can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org on or after 19th July with the tale of your listening day, writing as much or as little as you want. If email is not your thing, you can contribute your story in a number of other ways, such as by Tweeting with the hashtag #harkive across the day, by posting to the Harkive page on Facebook, or by adding stories and images to Tumbr and Instagram – just remember to add the hashtag #harkive to each of your posts. More information on the ways in which you can tell your story are on the How To Contribute page.
Harkive 2016 is just 5 days away. We do hope you’ll join us on Tuesday 19th July by telling us the story of your listening day. If Harkive sounds interesting, please do help us spread the word by telling your friends about the project. In the meantime you can keep an eye on the project by following us on Twitter, or by liking our Facebook page. If you have any questions about the project please feel free to email us.
Thanks again to William for his story. If you’d like to follow his activities, you’ll find him as @your_wilderness on Twitter. We’ll have another story for you tomorrow as the Harkive 2016 countdown continues.