Stewart Smith

Stewdio music on Studio Music

Studio Music is a blog that "provides an insight into the creative process of visual practitioners, through the music that they listen to whilst working." (Text from their About page.) And today they've posted my current top ten countdown complete with little anecdotes per song. (The direct link is Because a lot of these tracks have a nice music video visual component I've posted YouTube embeds here along with the original text. —Stewart

Hello Studio Music readers / listeners. Here is my countdown of mega awesomeness. And by "mega awesomeness" I mean things that I've been listening to in studio frequently and upon closer examination may elude to the mental unfitness of your humble narrator. In pseudo-DJ fashion here's the list organized backwards from 10 down to 1, anecdotes included:

10. Lift Every Voice and Sing (Shooby Taylor). When my friend (and frequent collaborator) Robert Pietrusko introduced me to Shooby Taylor recordings I didn't know what to make of them. Especially after watching this very unfortunate clip from Apollo's amateur night. Since then a craving for it has just sort of snuck up on me… It's honest in a very startling way.

9. Being a Dickhead's Cool (Reuben Dangoor & Raf Riley). It's important to have a sense of humor about one's self, time, and place. "I'm writing my own magazine and it's all about . . ." (See #3 below.) Great tune. Not so thrilled about the harsh use of candid photos though as I'm becoming more sensitive to these sorts of privacy issues.

8. Still Alive (Jonathan Coultan). This is the end-credits song for the video game Portal. The game is fantastic. And the music video is too. A friend in the industry has suggested their visual approach may have been inspired by my Jed's Other Poem video that was released two years prior. You be the judge: Jed's Other Poem.

7. Symphony No. 25 in G Minor (Mozart). Clearly this piece was inspired by 1980's thrash metal. Can you hear it? Why Metallica hasn't covered this yet I don't fully understand. Some mates and I used to do a surf-punk version for our own amusement. Or perhaps just my amusement? (Now that I think about it I don't recall the other guys being so into it…)

6. Empire State of Mind (Jay Z & Alicia Keys). The greatest city in the world. No further words are necessary. (Until we get down to #2.)

5. Auto-Tune the News 3 (The Gregory Brothers). The Gregory Brothers accidentally hit a nerve in early 2009 with their "Auto-Tune the News" series. But number 3 holds a special place in my heart. I remember flying to Amsterdam for the first time ever in the summer of 2009 to work on a project and I had this on repeat the entire time. No one else in the office enjoyed it quite the way I did—I think I earned a reputation for being … "obsessive."

4. Falling Man (Blonde Redhead). Blonde Redhead made their way into my life through an art school darkroom where Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons (just released) was on repeat constantly. I fell in love, collected their prior records, saw them live several times (often with Sleater-Kinney) and then they released Misery is a Butterfly… This is when their sound changed from records you could play on speakers to records that required headphones. Usually that doesn't bother me but for Blonde Redhead I felt like something'd gone missing. Regardless, this track from Misery is a Butterfly is absolutely beautiful and I still listen to it quite often. (Simone, if you ever read this it was all I could do to sit quietly and not bother you at Bacaro every other week. Apparently we both enjoy the food and drink there.) And if you like Blonde Redhead be sure to check out Broadcast.

3. Since You Stole my Heart (Saturday Looks Good to Me). I was driving alone at night listening to WHUS, my old uni's radio station, when I heard this track for the first time. And I was mesmerized. When the DJ announced their name afterwards I kept repeating it to myself so I could recall it and look them up when I finally reached home. I got in touch with their label to set up an in-person interview for the music and politics magazine I was writing at the time. (As luck would have it they were on tour and passing through Brooklyn.) I found Fred Thomas, the leader and songwriter of the group, to be oddly engaging for such an introvert. After the interview I watched them play an amazing show. And after the show, while the rest of the band went out for a late dinner I drove Fred to his home for the night in that car that I first heard their music in. It was a little magical.

2. Lesson's Learned (Matt & Kim). My wife introduced me to Matt & Kim after they released their debut record. We used to go see them play in Brooklyn with their friends Japanther and Ninja Sonic. Those shows were great. It's been wonderful watching them find broader success, and when they played London earlier this year it was like they brought a little piece of home back to us. I love this song. I love this video. I love New York.

  1. Getting Money with the Mouse and Wacom Pen (Money Money Money). Here it is, my current favorite track to listen to whist in studio. "I easy ease out then I ease back in." Work + Play = Fun. Amazing. This song is great. The execution is great. What will these guys do next? I hope the answer is: collaborate on the sequel to the trailer (yes the trailer, not the full version because the trailer is better!) of the Beastie Boys' Fight For Your Right (Revisited). See that? I snuck a little bonus track into the number one slot.

Bonus! Fight For Your Right (Revisited) (Beastie Boys).

Thanks for making it all the way to the bottom down here. For more playlists and music-related nonsense from me check out