An Archivist's Musical Archive

An Archivist's Musical Archive

Gregory Han
Jul 13, 2011

We asked Alison Williams, the co-founder of The Academy of Archivists, to help me pin down exactly what she does. "I've been describing myself lately as a creative entrepreneur.  I have my own company and I work with other companies, brands and artists to help develop their identities and get their work to the people who should see it, in whatever form that takes.  I talk to people, think about things, observe, strategize, write, create.  I feel lucky to have a job that I enjoy, working with amazing people." And what role does music play in all that? Well, read on to find out.

What do you listen to while you work? When I'm writing I need music that is inspiring but not distracting, so I'll listen to opera, or something without words. I love the soundtrack from Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie Poulain by Yann Tiersen. On the other hand when I am feeling daunted by a project or need to brainstorm I'll either go to an album that I am entirely familiar with or something totally unknown.  When I'm working with other people I am open to what they want to listen to.

How do you listen? My favorite place to listen to music is in the car. It's so contained and personal. But obviously, I can't work in my car!  Although I have an office space I move around a lot visiting clients, so I usually listen to music on my computer or on my iPhone with headphones. Or in my car.

Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? I went through a recent obsession with Pandora. The problem with Pandora is that I end up feeling spoonfed, so now I try to moderate my usage. I also discover a lot of music from KCRW, which I listen to on the radio as well as their website. They have incredible podcasts and studio sessions. And, of course, iTunes.

Does music influence your work? Can you show me an example? Music and the culture of music is an influence on all spheres of my work.  My company does marketing for a music house called Black Iris that we do a lot of additional creative work with, including album art, websites, and events; and we also work with a production company called Caviar which has amazing directors who do a lot of incredible music videos. One of my favorites was Keith Schofield's "Heaven Can Wait" video for Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck.  I also loved Daniel Wolfe's epic videos for Plan B.

In addition to my work with my company and the creative people I am fortunate to work with, I am also a writer. One of my current projects is based entirely on music by current female singer/songwriters, like Sam Phillips, Gillian Welch, Lex Land, Liz Green. I am presently obsessed with Jesca Hoop's latest album "Hunting My Dress," which I have listened to way too many times.

Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? I'm afraid my musical taste is kind of formed at this point. I find myself going back to albums that I truly love rather than searching out new music. I just reverted to a Led Zeppelin phase, for example. It's a summer thing. I do get a lot of music from my friends, who send me playlists.

And because I spend a lot of time on the web, sometimes I'll just surf and go from one musician to another. The other day I discovered Ellie Goulding from a video for a cover she did of Elton John's "Your Song," and I ended up buying her album from iTunes. Or somehow I found this song "Painted By Numbers" by The Sounds somewhere and now it is one of my faves.

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? So hard to say! I guess maybe Nina Simone. Kind of strange, hard to pin down, intense, creative, diverse, but also down-to-earth and intellectual.

The Sundays, I Feel Fine
Liz Green, French Singer
Jesca Hoop, Money
Pat Benatar, Invincible
The Sounds, Painted By Numbers
Lady Gaga, Poker Face
Florence + The Machine, Dog Days Are Over
Jenny Lewis, The Big Guns
Ellie Goulding, Your Song

Originally published at Lifework by Amy Feezor

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