Jon Setzen spends his days (and often nights) working as Creative Director at Something Massive a digital strategy agency in Venice, California. He’s new to LA, having just moved here after a decade of living and working in Brooklyn, NY. He’s best known for the hundreds of rock posters he’s made over the years and his work has been shown in NYC, LA, Japan, Denmark and the UK. He’s had the pleasure of working with the likes of Yahoo!, Target, Alicia Keys, Sony Pictures, 826LA, MOMA and countless world-renowned photographers. He runs the Los Angeles branch of Creative Mornings. He’ll never turn off a Smiths song, never turn down a good taco and daydreams about Narragansett, Rhode Island. He lives in Silver Lake with his wife, son and Siamese cat.
What do you listen to while you work? It really depends on the day, the time and the situation. It’s generally a mix of old, new and rediscoveries. There is a calming reassurance in listening to something you know by heart. So, for me that could be Hefner, Pastels, Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, Galaxie 500 etc. Most of the time, I either close my eyes and pick something out of my iTunes library or keep playing the same stuff I am currently loving. Lately, it’s been a lot of Craft Spells, The Clash, Suede, Neil Young, Mingus, Generationals, Luna, Sonny & The Sunsets and Lou Reed.
How do you listen? At home I have a Numark PT-01 (portable turntable) which is plugged into a pair of old Sony speakers. I have it setup on the other side of my studio so it forces me to get up and stretch my legs every time I have to turn the record over. It’s a pretty analog setup really. I try to only play LPs and 7”s since I never ever get to listen to all that old vinyl anywhere but in that studio. Lots of old Modern Jazz Quartet, Aretha Franklin, Spaceman 3, Housemartins, Wedding Present, Orb, Nick Cave, Stan Getz, Stereolab and The Band as of late.
At work, I share an office with two other people. Our company is growing like mad so we’re currently all in pretty tight quarters. My two office-mates (who are great and very busy) tend to be on a lot of calls. I generally use a $30 pair of Logitech Skype headphones since I tend to need to be on Skype a lot. It’s easy to toggle back and forth. I also have JBL Creature III speakers hooked up to my Mac Pro 8-Core which I use from time to time.
Above: Setzen’s office at Something Massive in Venice, CA.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I am a Sirius subscriber and I listen to XMU often – their blog radio is especially good. I listen to KCRW online as well as Spinner’s fantastic listening party with full album streaming.
Does music influence your work? A huge part of my old business (running my own studio) was designing concert posters and doing album packaging. Everything I did was highly influenced by the artist’s sound. Have a look…
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? I was a college radio music director and after school I sort of hit the saturation point on trying to find new music. So, I definitely rely on others. My wife, Mindy, makes the best mixes ever. She leaves me CDs for my drive to work. I am constantly turned onto old music (that’s new to me) through her mixes. I love the Aquarium Drunkard blog as well as Ghost Capital. XMU introduces me to new things daily. I read the Piccadilly Records (best record store in the world) newsletter. Also, lots of friends make digital mixes nowadays, including my friend Drew who constantly makes killer monthly mixes. In a way my three year-old son has influenced me too. I find myself listening to old stuff that I think he’d like. Things I haven’t listened to in ages like Donovan, Cat Stevens and even The Ramones.
If your work was a song or a musician, what or who would it be?/What song or artist best represents the work you create? I’d say Sonny Rollins. Nowadays, 90% of my work is interactive and the end product is really a user being able to use and enjoy the work. Sonny was innovative (which I try to be), he collaborated well with Miles, MJQ and Monk (working in a design team is all about collaboration), he appreciated and was aware of the musicians that paved the way for him (you have to respect and admire the design process of yesterday) and his music always has substance and is enjoyable. I like to think the websites I design are more for enjoyment and usability rather than fluff.
Jon Setzen’s Playlist
Love Will Destroy Us In The End, Hefner
Every Night, Paul McCartney
You’re So Good To Me, The Beach Boys
Digital, Joy Division
Bag’s Groove, Modern Jazz Quartet
Did I Tell You? Yo La Tengo
The Dead Flag Blues, Godspeed You Black Emperor!
Jacking The Ball, The Sea and Cake
I’m Waiting For The Man, Velvet Undeground
The State That I am In, Belle & Sebastian