Hear me out…

Anyone who knows me, knows my love of music. And I mean love.

Nothing is off the cards, and as my poor family will testify it started at a young age when I found the absolute delights of none other than Scooter. YES. Scooter – the German happy hardcore band. I kid you not if these guys weren’t the soundtrack to my teens then I’m not sure who was. My poor little speaker system turned up to max with the walls shaking and the floor bouncing (my poor, poor parents).

Fast forward many, many years later and although my taste has slightly changed, the impact that music has on my mood and my mindset has remained strong. So often I’ll find myself lost in the creative haze, yet a quick change in what I’m listening to can bring a whole new perspective to proceedings. Last year alone I listened to 174,000 minutes/2,900 hours/120.83 days of music which was more than 99.5% of the other listeners in the UK. I think it just goes to show it’s become quite an integral part of my creative process.

Anyway, guilty pleasures aside, I was planning our Creative Team Meetings at mm* and it dawned on me that maybe, just maybe I could get the team to join me in this journey of sound. There’s so much research that suggests that music has a direct impact on creativity.

Researchers found those who had “happy” background music playing scored significantly better regarding divergent thinking (which governs creativity) than those who had conducted their exercises in silence or were subjected to other musical excerpts with additional research showing:

61% of employees say listening to music at work makes them happier and more productive

88% of employees produce more accurate work when listening to music

90% of workers perform better when listening to music

Though Scooter might not be on everyone’s playlist, I wanted to do a little experiment with different genres, volumes and tempos to identify if we could open the tap on our individual creative juices.

The question was a simple one;
How would the team respond visually to tracks that were playing?

But first, let me introduce the playlist of just 5 tracks that would hopefully peak the curiosity and get the creative cogs going (and of course each track had a little sentimental meaning to me)…

Curtis Mayfield – Move on up

Other than being an absolute classic, this would act as my ice breaker to the task ahead. This was also the first song played at my wedding which, to cut a very long story short, was restricted to just 30 people – each one of whom were in full swing when this one played. It’s a song that fills me with absolute joy and happiness, and one that’s guaranteed to fill many a dance floor for years to come.

Loyle Carner – Ottolenghi

Have you ever listened to a song and just cried? No idea why, just started crying? (Ok maybe just me). But for some reason, this one hits differently. Now, I wasn’t expecting tears from the team but a subtle change of pace would hopefully create some interesting results.

Nothing but Thieves – Welcome to the DCC

This little beauty popped on the radio on the way to work one morning and straight away I was transported down some 1980’s beach in the US ready to fight crime and doing that fancy slide across the boot of the car. Would the team react in the same way? Hmmmm maybe not, but how would the team react to a different, more upbeat tone?

Chase & Status – Hyp est Hype

And here comes the shift change. I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I needed the energy boost in the playlist and this was it. It’s loud, aggressive and boy has it picked me up off the floor a few times. Sometimes only the Hypest of Hypes will do and this one brings a full on, in your face, ‘let’s get things done’ attitude that everyone needs, right?.

M83 – Outro

This tracks a little differently and takes me back to a very specific moment in time. Back in 2011, coming home from town on a cold, pitch black winter’s night, I came to a straight part of the road and this song hit 2:30 minutes. Through a tunnel of mist rolling over the hedgerows above, I came to the most awe-inspiring thing I think I’ve ever witnessed. The song rolls and dives just like the fog on that night, but how would the team react to a song without the context of my experience?

A very sheepish me hit play…

The team didn’t disappoint. I think they’d all agree there was a sense of trepidation when the task was first put to them but, armed with an array of mark-making tools, they were soon in full swing.

I think the results for what was basically a 3-minute challenge were awesome. A real mixture of techniques and themes. From the use of colour and typography to those that were more abstract, the team really hit all the high notes.

I might just press play on this one again.

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