One of my favorite stages in the creative process is creating the right environment to work. To me, there is nothing better than making sure the lighting is right, creating my playlists, and getting my favorite mug for tea. I know that each person has a different vibe and workspace that suits them best. Whether your space is a comfy chair in your room, a desk at the library, or the floor next to your bed I have some suggestions for what tunes your ears should be listening to.
I always like the feel of live music, and one of the best outlets for artists curated songs is NPR’s tiny desk concerts. If you are not familiar then let me introduce you. They have artists bring in only as many instruments as can fit in the tiny NPR Music office space, and have had every range of artists you could imagine. In the past few months, they have had an amazing series of tiny desk home concerts, where artists bring you some of their favorite songs from the comfort of their own house or recording space. It is fascinating to see the reflection of the artist in the spaces they choose to film in, and it has really been a bright light for me during these stressful times.
I hope that this list will be as soothing and inspirational for you as they are to me. So…sit back, grab your notebook/sketchbook, and a nice cuppa. In no particular order please enjoy these tunes friends.
1. Jacob Collier
This opening song always makes me want to dance and cry at the same time. Collier’s music is as eclectic as his personality and gives sets the tone of creativity really well. He is quite literally a musical genius, and everything he does is so pure that I can’t help from smiling.
2. Jhené Aiko
This is one of the most recent uploads from the tiny desk home concerts. Jhene Aiko has the voice of an angel. Her peaceful and inspiring melodies make you want to melt into the floor. This piece is for the times when your so deep in your work that the rest of the world grows fuzzy around the edges.
3. Hobo Johnson and The Lovemakers
Okay, yes. Hobo Johnson and The Lovemakers won the tiny desk contest in 2018. Their work is full of the angst that flows through people age 15 to 20. But I would be lying if I told you I didn’t listen to this video at least once a month. I think it has to do with the beat poetry aspect of Hobo Johnson’s lyrics, paired with the simple melodies made by The Lovemakers. So take a chance and I recommend playing this piece while laying in the middle of your kitchen floor while yelling the lyrics.
4. Declan McKenna
Declan McKenna is best known for his song ‘Brazil’, but the man has such a fun unique sound that really shines here. He is also one of the few solo artists to perform alone on tiny desk concerts. The pairing of his acoustic guitar and stark vocals really highlights his unique brit-pop vocals. This video is so simple and endearing I think it could be listened to at any time anywhere. He just put out a new album that was released with another tiny desk home concert, so I’ll leave the link to his latest tiny desk here.
I am a huge H.E.R. stan. Honestly if you haven’t heard of her yet, run don’t walk to click on this video. With a sultry voice and soothing bass line H.E.R., aka Gabby Wilson, is a grammy award-winning artist who’s first EP set the world on fire. You can understand why because she writes her own music, and can play 5 different instruments. This woman is awe-inspiring while having music that is subtle earworms and dramatic vocals.
This group is so wonderful and fun. Honestly probably not the best music to study to, so if you feel like you need a dance break I recommend this piece. This artist collective is all kinds of quirky. I’ve only known one band to play ‘water in a bucket’ as an instrument or have the iPhone alarm sound make me smile. their trippy lyrics are fun and have a sense of beat poetry under them.
7. Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals
This man… His work is so funky and makes me want to dance. I would say this Tiny Desk Concert was a cultural reset and brought his work to a larger audience. It is also one of the most-watched tiny desk concerts ever, and for good reason. .Paak is funny and feel good throughout this whole video, enjoy the bumps and beats of my favorite soul artists.
Well, we have come to the end of the list, but I had trouble narrowing it all down. So enjoy this extra mini list for my die-hard Tiny Desk fans out there: