The Los Angeles–based industrial designer Jonathan Olivares produces works with a profound understanding and observation of how the human body sits and moves through space. But his first passion, before discovering design, was skateboarding. Ahead of national Go Skateboarding Day tomorrow, here he shares a playlist of his favorite skateboarding songs, and the legendary video parts that feature them. “This is a selection of songs that have been paired with some of my favorite skate-video parts,” Olivares says. “I continue to watch these videos and skate with these songs in my headphones. They conjure an attitude and aesthetic that influence and inspire my work as a designer.”
“Know the Ledge,” Eric B. & Rakim Juice (featured in: Eric Koston, H-Street – Next Generation, 1992)
“Cuz It’s Wrong,” Slick Rick (featured in: Eric Koston, Goldfish, 1993)
“I was first exposed to new school–style street skating at my middle school, in 1992. While I had messed around with an old-school board in the eighties, it was the new-school, hip-hop–influenced skateboarding aesthetic that really captivated my attention and turned me into a lifelong skater. These two video parts capture all the raw energy and potential exhibited in Eric Koston’s early years of professional skating.”
“Lose In the End,” Casual (featured in: Mike Carroll, Plan B Virtual Reality, 1993)
“Mike Carroll was unstoppable in this era, which was an intense period of innovation for street skating. The Bay Area hip-hop that Carroll and his peers introduced to the skateboarding world through their video parts changed the sound of skate culture. Carroll and Casual’s laid-back styles are a perfect match for each other, and the part and song are just as motivating today as they were in 1993. Two of Carroll’s other parts from this period include the De La Soul songs ‘I Am I Be’ and ‘Oodles of O’s’.”
“007 (Shanty Town),” Desmond Dekker & The Aces (featured in: Keenan Milton, Las Nueve Vidas de Paco, 1995)
“Worldwide (Instrumental),” Royal Flush (featured in: Keenan Milton & Gino Iannucci, Mouse, 1996)
“Keenan Milton and Gino Iannucci’s skating in these video parts set a standard for quality and execution that I try to follow in my work: Do it fast, do it big, do it with style—ride away clean. When Milton’s part in Mouse came out, it was before the app Shazam existed, and also before all skate videos credited songs. It took me a couple years to identify this song as the instrumental [version] of Royal Flush’s ‘Worldwide,’ and, in the meantime, I figured out how to dub an audio cassette from a VHS tape so I could play the song on my Walkman. The sounds of skateboarding, running on top of my bootleg copy, made it even better.”
“Watermelon Man,” Herbie Hancock (featured in Guy Mariano, Mouse, 1996)
“Like many skaters of the mid-’90s, I watched this video hundreds of times, and often in slow motion so as to better observe it. In this part, Mariano elevated skateboarding beyond what was thought to be possible, and the use of Herbie Hancock’s ‘Watermelon Man’ helped fashion a new kind of atmosphere for skateboarding.”
“Bounce, Rock, Skate Roll,” Vaughn Mason (featured in: Montage, Zoo York’s Mixtape, 1997)
“The first skateboards were made in the 1950s, using trucks and wheels from roller skates, so a skateboard is essentially a stretch roller-skate. In the seventies and eighties, roller disco—another evolution of roller-skating—was born, so roller-disco and skateboarding are like cousins. I was introduced to roller-disco music—one of my favorite genres—through this montage in Zoo York’s 1997 video Mixtape.”
“9 Little Millimeta Boys,” 8ball & MJG (featured in: Ishod Wair’s Sabotage 3, 2013)
“Shots to Tha Double Glock,” Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (featured in: Ishod Wair, Told Ya, 2015)
“Great skateboarding, like great hip-hop or basketball, requires a high degree of bravado and panache, and Ishod Wair has the most of any skater in his generation. His style, sense of humor, technical skill, the symmetry of his skating (regular and goofy), and his other four-wheeled hobbies (Carreras and E30s) make him a tremendous pleasure to watch.”
“Night Moves,” Bob Seger (featured in: Cory Kennedy, Pretty Sweet, 2012)
“Old School,” 2Pac (featured in: Cory Kennedy, Pump on This, 2019)
“Riding around on a wooden board with wheels is inherently carefree and light-hearted. Giving advice to young skaters seeking sponsorship, a recent issue of Thrasher states that ‘taking yourself too seriously can be a drag,’ that you can blow it by ‘not try[ing] hard enough or try[ing] too hard,’ and that teams look for ‘multi-faceted, interesting people who are fun-loving.’ While being good, or great, at skateboarding requires hard work, the best skaters make it look effortless and, more importantly, they make it look fun. Cory Kennedy is one of these figures, and the fun he has while he skates is highly contagious.”
“Playground Love,” Air Featuring Gordon Tracks
“Sphynx,” La Femme (both featured in: Mark Suciu, Verso, 2019)
“Throughout my career as a designer, I have searched to find the right analogy between skateboarding and design. In a 2020 Thrasher interview, where he discusses his video part Verso, Mark Suciu says, ‘There are certain photographs by photographers from the seventies of certain buildings of modernist architecture that I look at as being perfectly composed—perfection in every sense—and I felt the same way when I watched Ishod do that noseblunt. What I think I’m looking for are instances of just complete unity with your board. When you achieve that kind of perfection, there’s an absence of technique that is pure skating.’ Then, at the 4:27 mark of Verso, in one of my favorite sequences ever, Suciu switch heelflips over one of Enzo Mari’s Mobile Street blocks at Stazione Centrale in Milan—a perfect trick over a perfect object. In this moment, I understood mastery in skateboarding and mastery in design as being perfection, unity and purity.”
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More than two decades in the making, the National Museum of African American Music opened last month in Nashville, Tennessee, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Through its seven galleries and the some 1,50
Dominated by companies such as Sony, Sennheiser, and Bose, which leverage technology to make ever-smaller components, thestimated $28.5 billion by the end of this year. On the flip side, there are proudly D.I.Y. audio designers like Devon Turnbull, who with his brand Ojas creates high-end sound systems from his basement and a studio near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. By hand-building speakers th
It’s been a tough year for musicians and DJs, as the pandemic continues to make traditional revenue streams for performiYoung Turks (which counts FKA twigs, Sampha, and The xx among the musicians on its roster), the absence of in-person performances ia playlist of uplifting songs for us that have “amplified the best parts of my year,” he says, “and distracted me from some of the worst.” There’s so
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Nestled in northwest Montana’s Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park comprises 1,583 square miles of scenic wilderness—
When Teenage Engineering released its OP-1 portable synthesizer, in 2011, the device received glowing reviews from an arOB-4, a Bluetooth speaker system that it’s billing as a “magic radio.” The term isn’t too far off: The mobile, four-speaker
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The middle of a pandemic may seem like an odd time to launch a podcast about road trips—but maybe it’s ideal, as unexpecGreetings from Somewhere, a show about how travel affects us; how we affect the places we visit; and, to date, how the pandemic changed everythi
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Elliott H. Powell Traces the History of Black Musicians Engaging with South Asian Culture and Sounds
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Don’t be fooled by the no-frills appearance of this device—it’s actually something of a shape-shifter. Created by the ItCity Radio (available in the U.S. through Uncommon Goods) lets users pick from 18 international radio libraries with a few flicks of the finger: Simply download the gadget’s ap
Keith Abrahamsson is the founder of the independent record label Mexican Summer, which operates out of New York and London and counts the likes of Cate Le Bon, Ariel Pink, and Photay among the artistEp. 3 of our Time Sensitive podcast.) Launched in 2008, his venture has grown to include a reissue label, Anthology, and a book publishing arm, Anthology Editions. In an effort to soothe anxious, isolated souls, Abrahamsson put together a playlist of transporting tunes for us. “It’s culled from material both in and outside my orbit—songs I work with directly or have connected to as a co “Love Is A Jungle,” Peter Ivers “For Lise,” Matchess “Rectifiya,” keiyaA “Stay Sane,” Pink Siifu “Charlotte's Thong,” Connan Mockasin “Infinitamente Nu,” Sessa “Min
An international pandemic may seem like an unusual time to kick-start a podcast called The Art of Travel. But for Olivia Lopez, a Filipina fashion blogger whose pre-Covid life entailed constant globetrotting, being stuck at the first episode of the podcast, which she launched over the summer. Through the project, Lopez hopes to provide a “temporary escape for listeners, whiYOLO magazine founder Yolanda Edwards, who talks about an unforgettable trip to Greece; Life House Hotels founder Rami Zeidan, who discusses how to make travel more meaningful; and perfumer Frédéric Malle, who explains how to travel via the senses. The conversations have been a balm for Lopez, who, like all of us, has been missing the excitement of everyday life. “
Music fans missing a regular calendar of gigs will find a lifeline in Iris Flow, headphones made to mimic the sound qualIris, which is backed by Queen drummer Roger Taylor, the device features a patented algorithm that restores complex spatial
In 2015, German-born British composer Max Richter wrote an epic eight-and-a-half-hour-long musical cycle titled “Sleep,” with the intention of it being the soundtrack to one night’s snooze. It consists of 31 tracks that each last about halfRichter said ahead of the piece’s U.S. premiere. “It’s a political work in that sense. It’s a call to arms to stop what we’re doing.” Recently, with the help of the Bean app of the same name. Divided into three sessions—Sleep, Meditate, and Focus—users can set timers for the music to play according to a chose
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An activist, M.C., artist, and the first-ever hip-hop ambassador to the U.S. State Department, Toni Blackman—who runs hip-hop meditation workshops—describes her passion-driven role as being “more of a mindfulness educator, and lea playlist of her favorite tracks that help center her. “I was totally unaware of how much music was inside of my head and heart. Some of these songs I play on repeat every oEp. 55 of At a Distance earlier this year. “In between tears and mourning and political frustrations, I am enjoying my journey!”
The sheer volume of awful things that have happened in recent months makes a person wonder if we’ll ever get it right. FRadical Imagination podcast, now is the perfect moment to discuss deep-seated issues such as reparations, extreme poverty, and police miscoEp. 67 of our At a Distance podcast. So far, she’s interviewed Stockton, California, mayor Michael Tubbs about his guaranteed income initiative, as well as
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The anticipation of hearing and chasing down an ice cream truck is a nostalgic American pastime, bringing joy to kids onColumbia Records even released a recorded version of the song, written by actor Harry C. Browne, titled, “N*gger Love A Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!,” a disturbing slice of American histoTikTok-er Vanessa Blackwell resurfaced earlier this summer in a viral post. Offering a sorely needed replacement, Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA recently partnered with the ice cream maker Good Humor to crRZA said in a video announcing the project. “I assure you that this one is made with love.” Good Humor released the track for free, urging all ice-cream truck dri
Museums have begun to reopen in New York City—with appropriate precaution—and after months of prolonged closures and dig“Rashid Johnson: Stage,” an installation opening next week at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens, and offering a participatory platform for diEp. 25 of our Time Sensitive podcast. At once referencing hip-hop culture, public oratory, protest, and public intellectual and cultural life, “Stage” will
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Working from home, at least for those who are fortunate enough to do so, isn’t all bad. Trading workwear for loungewear,The Kids, a creative agency based in Zurich, are not all right with this. The firm’s interactive online project I Miss the Office serves as a cheeky reminder of pre-Covid-19 life that simulates the mundane soundscape of an everyday workplace—the sma
At first listen, the Get Sleepy podcast’s format is surprisingly basic: Cue the lulling intonations of a British narrator, who slowly reads an intentioSlumber, launched in 2018). Get Sleepy’s ASMR-meets-bedtime stories appeal is apt for these high-anxiety existential times that
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The Swiss Army knife of gadgets, smartphones make for very good alarm clocks. They’re comforting to sleep with, keeping harder to sleep, impairs vision, suppresses melatonin, and throws the body’s circadian rhythm completely out of whack. (The National Sleep Foundation recommends ending the use of electronic devices at least thirty minutes before bed.)
A love of theater and drama drives the work of architect and designer David Rockwell, who grew up in a theater-going famRockwell Group, has designed numerous hospitality, entertainment, and cultural spaces—from Nobu to NeueHouse to The Shed—plus dozens oKinky Boots and Hairspray. While theaters are officially closed for the rest of the year, here Rockwell brings the spirit of the stage home to us with a playlist of some of his favorite musical numbers. (For more from Rockwell, listen to Spencer interview him on Ep. 1 of The Workspace of Tomorrow podcast.)
This time of year usually signals rest and recharging for many, with relaxation and summer travels in store. All of thatNature Ecology & Evolution, scientists have coined a term for this particular window of time—the “anthropause”—and have set out to quantify its efbiologist Christian Rutz, one of the paper’s lead authors, told Wired. “And we acknowledge that in the article. But it’s one which we, as a scientific community, really can’t afford to missone scientist, volcanologist Jan Lindsay, said. “The ‘2020 seismic noise quiet period’ will likely become something that Earth science students of the future will lea
As civic life came to a grinding halt this spring, with cities in lockdown around the world, the vivacious cacophony of as Siri Hustvedt wrote in a beautiful Financial Times essay in late April. “I have come to think of the sirens as the city’s heartbreaking music, a high-pitched dirge that accompanies the numbe
Michel Rojkind, founder of the namesake firm Rojkind Arquitectos, is known as a leading figure of Mexico City’s contemporary architecture scene—all the more impressive considering that
Festivals are canceled for the year, and online dance parties now a bit played out, several months into the pandemic—resHouse Party, a digital performance and semiweekly publication series from The Poetry Project (not to be confused with the social meCenter for Fiction, book talks with authors, such as one taking place on July 31 titled “The Long View: New Fiction from Edmund White and City Arts & Lectures, home to a trove of previously recorded conversations and upcoming talks that will be webcast and later available to ththis recent webcast between author Rebecca Solnit and actor and screenwriter Brit Marling (pictured above).
The 4th of July has at times been a fraught holiday for Americans, and the cause for celebration feels especially dubiouincluding Native Americans, disproportionately hard). In recent weeks, the nostalgia of fireworks—a visual and auditory spectacle innovated by Chiconspiracy theories on social media. They’ve also sparked debates about race, gentrification, class, and the privilege of calling the police for “quality ofireworks and hand sanitizer could make for a dangerous combination,” making the dazzling explosives, at least for this year, a peculiar, precarious assault on the senses, in more ways th
Live music is the lifeblood for the Woodstock, New York–based musician Amy Helm, who grew up with two musical parents, The Band’s drummer Levon Helm and singer Libby Titus. When the Covid-19 pandemicConnor Kennedy to take their show on the road, and to doorsteps around the Hudson Valley. We caught up with Helm just as New York was Curbside Pickup Band.
Layered compositions, calligraphic abstractions, and public spaces often factor into the works of Brooklyn-based Cuban-AmericanJosé Parlá, who has exhibited worldwide and installed large-scale murals in spaces ranging from inside the lobby of One World Trad“José Parlá: It’s Yours,” is currently on view at the Bronx Museum, through Jan. 10, 2021, though the museum is temporarily closed at the moment a playlist of some of his favorite Cuban songs to move to.
In an era where music streaming algorithms and data-driven suggestions can throw you for a loop, somehow leading you to Radiooooo—spelled with, count ’em, five O’s—around the idea of creating a crowdsourced time machine of music. While popular platfRadio Garden, which lets you tune into more than 8,000 radio stations from all over the world, each plotted onto a Google Earth–like
With #StayHome campaigns driving home the importance of social distancing while the race to find a vaccine continues, prThe Body Keeps Score (currently No. 1 on The New York Times paperback nonfiction best-seller list), said on Ep. 2 of our At a Distance podcast, now is as good a time as any to start a meditation practice or new exercise routine to calm your autonomic nervous sysa virtual conference he’s hosting with the Trauma Research Foundation—a healthy reminder that learning about self-care is a lifelong journey.
Helen Molesworth, the longtime art curator behind major shows such as “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 193Recording Artists podcast. Here, we chat with her about the trailblazing female artists featured in the series.
As concerts, festivals, and group gatherings remain on hold worldwide, more or less steadily finding a place online, we a more accessible series of flat-packed speaker-building kits for fellow audiophiles to assemble at home. While Turnbull’s custom analog speakers are known for their utilitarian aes
One upside to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis: a renaissance of podcasts and audio content to take in. These days, we’re tunCurio.io app for a curated selection of the best narrated and audio journalism being produced today. The helpful, easy-to-navigaFinancial Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The Economist—and we’re chuffed to have The Slowdown in such great company, with our very own At a Distance podcast now available on
The prolific Polish-American architect and artist Daniel Libeskind—renowned for his bold-faced projects, such as the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Denver Art Museum—finds great inspiraa playlist of classical pieces that are helping him navigate this tumultuous time.
The days of festivals and shows in concert halls may be put on pause for now, but live music is still very much alive anpatios around the world, and, of course, online. Each Saturday this month, the International Contemporary Ensemble, an artists’ collective withopen to anyone and all with an online RSVP, and asks that participants join in on the “sound-a-long” meditation—no prior singing or music experience necessary—for
Time has seemingly come to a standstill as countries around the world press pause on economic and cultural life in an efAt a Distance calls upon leading minds for a whole-earth, long-view perspective, offering a respite from the fear- and anxiety-induci
Laura Baldassari, an opera singer, actress, artist, and partner in the multidisciplinary studio Atelier Biagetti, shares a playlist of some of her favorite opera songs and the performers who are providing her solace at the moment. “I’ve been thinking of an emotional journey through oper
Artist and musician Billy Martin, drummer of the band Medeski Martin & Wood and a sometime collaborator with The Slowdown (he composed the jingle of oura playlist of songs that are helping him get through the current coronavirus quarantine. While chatting with him about his selection, Martin invoked the words of Samuel Beckett: “You must go on. I can’t go o
Matthew Yokobosky, senior curator of fashion and material culture at the Brooklyn Museum, shares a playlist of disco tracks from “Studio 54: Night Magic,” an exhibition on the history, social politics, and aesthetics of the legendary New York nightclub. The show will be on view through July 5, but due to the coronavirus, the museum is currently closed until further notice.
After nearly 20 years in the fashion business, 15 of those spent running his eponymous label, Phillip Lim is taking an ia statement on why he was pausing from the runway, citing “sustainability in all its forms” as a top concern: “I’d like to take a m
Stefan Sagmeister has designed a lot of album covers in his day—among them, David Byrne’s Feelings (1997) and Talking Heads’s 2003 box set Once in a Lifetime. Here, the notoriously cheeky graphic designer (interviewed by Spencer on Ep. 8 of our Time Sensitive podcast), shares a playlist of some of his favorite Byrne cover songs. Byrne himself wraps his Broadway tour of American Utopia tomorrow, Feb. 16, after a four-month run.
With Valentine’s Day on the way, singer-songwriter Jesse Carmichael, the keyboardist and rhythm guitarist of Maroon 5 (and a sometime collaborator of The Slowdown), shares a playlist featuring a few of his favorite love songs.