Portland, Maine-based artist and wanna-be astronaut Christopher David Ryan suffers from the creative's curse: too many thoughts and too little sleep. But like many an under-slept, hyper-inspired artist, there is a prolific pay-off. Whether working under his own name, or as Atmostheory, or as creative partner at Portland studio More & Company, Christopher finds inspiration throughout the natural world and cosmos, weaving together everything from vintage and retro inspirations to distinctive icons of the modern world, alongside dabbling in music production...
What do you listen to while you work?
I listen a broad spectrum of music while working. I share a studio space with my partners from More & Co. and we often share the DJ-ing responsibilities. On a day when we are all working together in the studio, it's not strange for us to go from soul to house to hip-hop to rock... then to the news and back again. When I am working alone I tend to gravitate to atmospheric sounds regardless of the genre. Right now, I have a rekindles love affair with techno -- real, proper techno. I find that I can really just get lost in it.
How do you listen?
I have a dedicated laptop that holds all of my music files and also doubles as a music production system (I'm dabbling in some minimal electronic compositions). I have a speaker system connected to that. I also have turntables and a mixer set up. I'd say I listen to more vinyl than anything else. I started spinning records in 1991 and have amassed a pretty nice, diverse collection.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers?
Online, I really like XLR8R, Ghostly Music Service, Aquarium Drunkard, White Light Mixes, Pitchfork, and Mog. I often find or preview stuff on sites like these and then download them or go buy the vinyl. My preferred way to acquire music is through record stores. I still love to go and dig.
Does music influence your work?
Absolutely. I'm honestly not sure exactly how, but I know it does. If I had to guess, I'd say it all started when I got my first Depeche Mode or New Order records. The cover art was a huge part of defining the music in my mind. Then I discover jazz and the rest is history. There are so many images I could show you as examples of how music influences my work. I could really show you pretty much my entire archive, but in an effort to save time, here are three recent examples.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste?
Besides the websites I mentioned earlier, I have a handful of friends who, like me, are always open to something new. In fact, I have a friend visiting this week. We went digging through used record stores yesterday. He turned me onto an Ethiopian/Latin jazz record that is amazing. I found him Eno's Ambient 1: Music for Airports. Score.
Which song or artist best represents the work you create?
Wow, that's a tough question. I make a lot of different kinds of work. Sometimes it's bright and playful and other times it's more serious. Ultimately, I try to make intelligent work... so I'd have to go with someone who has that vibe in my mind. Maybe Damon Albarn or Badly Drawn Boy. I would love to hear how someone other than me would answer this question.
Ideal place to sit and listen to your playlist:
Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman in walnut veneer with black leather. I have this exact one sitting a few feet from my turntables. After I record a mix, I sit down and listen from it. It is perfect for my mix because it's comfortable and it's too beautiful.
Christopher’s Playlist: 1. The Sea Horse, Yo La Tengo
2. As Quick As It Comes / Carrera, Calla
3. And Then So Clear, Brian Eno
4. A Beautiful Place in the Country, Boards of Canada
5. The Order of Things, Badly Drawn Boy
6. Bike, Autechre
7. Idiot Country, Electronic
8. Voodoo Ray, A Guy Called Gerald
9. With A Professional, Dabrye
10. The House Always Wins, The Clientele
11. Inn Keeping, The Sea And Cake
12. Green Aisles, Real Estate
(Images: Christopher David Ryan)
Republished in partnership with Herman Miller Lifework. Originally posted by Jamie Latendresse.