Music is the writer’s best friend. It can focus attention, channel energy and tune out USUCK F.M., the constant barrage of self-criticism writers sometimes hear in their heads when they’re trying to work their craft. Added bonus: Good music makes you happy. A workplace full of positive vibes is a productive workplace.
Today, I share some of my go-to albums for fostering focus and productivity. Give these a spin next time you need to roll up your sleeves and get stuff done.
Audio Bartending, Jazzinuf
Genre: Roll Hop
What a delightful album. A little bit whimsical, a little bit funky, and a whole lot of fun. I discovered it upon first release in April, and it remains one of my favorite albums of the year so far.
Jazzinuf’s style eludes easy categorization. Take some low-fi hip-hop, add a dash of jazz and throw in a few of your grandad’s favorite vinyls from the ’50s just for kicks. Put them in the blender, pulse a few times, and you’d be pretty close. The artist, who hails from South Korea, calls it Roll Hop, in honor of ’50s jazz pianist Erroll Garner.
Whatever you call it, it’s downright groovy. The steady but dreamy beats simultaneously pep you up and chill you out. Bits of vintage vocal jazz mingle with airy synth and saxophone. The effect is something both sophisticated and lighthearted, well-crafted but never pretentious.
Out of Time, Hugo Kant
Genre: Trip Hop
Curl up in the lush tapestry of this album, and you’ll feel like you were transported into a trippy, technicolor dreamscape. Hugo Kant, a French musician and producer, has a knack for capturing the atmosphere of a 1960s science fiction movie and replacing the campier bits with some sophisticated sounds. It’s the musical equivalent of the geeky kid you knew from high school who now runs his own tech firm but still has his original collection of Star Wars figurines on display in his basement.
Dreamy vocals, ethereal flutes and chillhop beats create an inspiring but relaxing atmosphere. Vocal samplings from old movies keep things interesting. “Entering the Black Hole,” for instance, features samplings from the 1979 movie The Black Hole. It’s a perfect cure for the mid-week blues.
If this tickles your fancy, try Le voyage dans la lune [A Trip to the Moon] by Air. The group produced this soundtrack for a re-released version of the 1902 silent film. Be sure to check the film out, too. It’s super trippy, but super cool.
Genre: Downtempo electronic
The quiet vibe of this album makes it perfect for deep focus. Still, it’s more than just white noise. Its muted background vocals and plaintive guitar melodies give it an evocative flavor. It’s pensive and chill, but the electronic beats add a touch of pep, so it’s never snoozy. For your off-hours life, this album makes for great reading music, too.
Diving Loop, Mrs Jynx
If you think electronic music is all about pelvic-thrustworty beats and screaming synths, this album will come as a revelation. This is a lovely little piece, as pleasing as a tall glass of tea on a hot summer afternoon.
I fell in love with Mrs Jynx, a UK producer, when I first discovered The Standoffish Cat last year. Diving Loop proved to be just as delightful. This album is hard to classify. It has a charming playfulness about it, yet it still retains the chrome-polished slickness of electronic music. Imagine a happy-go-lucky robot with a taste for cool beats noodling around on a synth machine.
The Bottom Line
Freelancing is fun, but it can also be a hard and lonely business. It’s easy to get distracted, derailed and dispirited. For me, music is a instance mood-enhancer. It’s a booster shot to ward off pessimism and self-doubt. These albums have kept me buoyant on my freelance journey. I hope they are as inspiring and uplifting to you as they have been to me.
What are your favorite office jams? What musical genre inspires you to kick butt and take names? What things do you do to ward off the blues? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo credit: Gratisography