Category Archives: Julia

Julia is Producer of Branded Music here at PlayNetwork…

SXSW 2014 Recap – Julia’s Journal

Julia Cummings is Director of Music Services at PlayNetwork. She oversees the team of Music Supervisors who design in-store playlists (as well as on-line, video syncs, and beyond). With a background in radio production (KEXP) and Music Supervision herself, Julia has created the soundtracks for iconic fashion brands from Anthropologie to MAC Cosmetics.

SXSW is a sensory assault. A mad maze of music, music, people, music, lines, late-night food truck visits, sketchy bathrooms, drunk meanderers, and spontaneous jams in the middle of 6th street. Surprises. Navigating blocks and kids banging on buckets and the strangest strangers to catch as many shows as possible or just sitting on a dirty curb because your feet are so sore you JUST NEED TO SIT.  Then there is the dancing, the swaying, and the all-out full body listening to live performances- one after the next.

Day 1:

Check-in. Meet Susie Brown, from Lively formerly of PlayNetwork, for dinner.  Then journey off Rainey St. near the food cart court. Kind of a cool night. Cool enough to wish I brought a jacket, but not too cold for a Northwesterner. Very glad I catch moody set of Icelandic electronic (?) singer-songwriter Ásgeir at Blackheart, the understated one-man band, Chet Faker, and the ever, forever suave Aloe Blacc at Clive Bar.  Really felt like all Soul. All night.

Day 2:

I hit Mellow Johnny’s in the afternoon and see the beautiful KEXP people and stunning Dum Dum Girls set that started off sleepy and ended expectedly rollicking.

Panel: “You Got Music, You Got Tech, Now Build Me Products”
http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_MP17552

Hit the Hype Hotel party and to catch an amazing set by Painted Palms. If you like their record you must see this band live! Then headed down to the FedEx showcase with the amazing creative team of Angelica and Tamara managing the event with Filter.

Damon Albarn rooftop magic. Indescribably perfect really.  Enough said.

In the deepening hours of the morning Kelis shuts it down, literally, at Clive Bar. Back-up singers and horns in full effect. Party. “Milkshake” mid-set was also a surprise. The sound guy pulls the plug amid a song called “A Capella,” which seemed staged at first as the singers took out their monitors and just kept singing, the horns quieting down… But they really had shut it down because it was getting so late!

Day 3: Lady Gaga keynote. This is when things get weird. Waiting in the cavernous auditorium. Lady Gaga was ethereal, all flour-dreadlocked with garbage bags so sheer she didn’t come out in any of my pictures. I think she is genuine even all wrapped-up in cellophane. At least she is trying to do something: inspiring young people to be inspired. It’s not about selfies, but self-love. After hearing her speak, I think that is a genuine aspiration.

Then it was show time for a panel I was asked to participate in! In-Store Retail Radio: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2014/events/event_MP20506
The discussion centered around the impact of in-store radio on customer’s shopping experiences and how this exposure can lead to fans for emerging artists. Key point: we may be in the B2B world, but artists and labels are our clients as well.

Lucius transformed the sterile convention center into a blissful uprising. Caught the end of Jungle’s set. This song basically stuck in my head for the rest of the week, if not month…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JkDzNOgO3U. Saw  and although her voice was waning, she was still a firecracker steaming up the stage at Clive Bar. British singer Sam Smith (who had a shot to fame as the guest vocalist on Disclosure’s 2012 UK hit “Latch”- noting he was bartending 2 years ago…) sang a heartfelt, short set at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary- always a lovely venue for a final transcendental moment and another opportunity to rest one’s feet and rehydrate after trekking the blocks. Ended the night with a perfectly raucous and insanely fun show by my friends on Bar/None Records The Front Bottoms. Fun to end up in a pit of kids bouncing around, sweating, and singing along.

Day 4:

I catch Belle & Sebastian front man Stuart Murdoch talking about his new film, “God Help The Girl”, a musical he wrote and directed http://www.godhelpthegirl.com/about/

Catch ANTI- band Saintseneca’s lovely Flatstock set. Stopped by the British Embassy Showcase and caught The Crookes then headed back to our FedEx showcase to see the end of Gardens & Villa and check in on the ass-kicking Creative Strategy team of Angelica & Tamara again. After dinner (ahem, one of the best lobster rolls ever!) at Garbo’s food truck and a sunset bat siting, I go back to the British Embassy to catch San Fermin, Temples, and stick around for the surprise that is Fat White Family. All great performances, all around. Closed out the night catching our Director of Music Strategy Sean Horton spin records at the Lively closing night event.

See you next year, you wily town you.

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Top 10 In the Summertime…

A few weeks ago we put together a “Hot Picks” list of 10 of our Music Supervisors’ favorite songs of summer 2011. While those are our personal new faves, we also love programming some “classic” summertime songs for our clients.

Just like the traditional Christmas songs that become the ubiquitous sound of the holiday season, there are songs for all seasons. As Music Supervisors we are often tasked to pick songs that sound like summer or evoke the feeling of sunshine. These songs become our summer standards.

The following 10 songs are some of our most often selected, iconic summer songs. What are the classic summer tunes that evoke that sunshine feeling for you?

–          August Day Song- Bebel Gilberto
–          Groovin’ – Rascals
–          Holiday- Vampire Weekend
–          Hot Fun In The Summertime- Sly & The Family Stone
–          In The Summertime – Mungo Jerry
–          Seven Sunny Days in June- Jamiroquai
–          Summer in the City- Lovin’ Spoonful
–          Summertime- The Sundays
–          Sunshine – The Beach Boys
–          The Tide is High – Blondie

–  Julia Cummings, Music Director, PlayNetwork

Janelle Monae is IT

Why is it that Janelle Monae has not massively blown up yet?  Maybe it’s because she doesn’t have a machine gun brassiere? Or is it because she’s singing about politics and poverty instead of hard-partying & boy troubles? Either way, I have hope that her slow-growing album The Archandroid keeps growing roots. Here’s her new video for another amazing track off of it- “Cold War”:

Julia

Music Director

Countdown to Mad Men

This weekend is the THE weekend. Mad Men is back! Season 4 starts on AMC this Sunday night. Yes! It’s time to get back to the gorgeous men in suits & fedoras, the voluptuous women, the not-so-old-school sexism, the indiscriminate smoking and drinking.

What will become of the mysterious Don Draper and his broken family, the eager Peggy Olson, the new ad agency? Is Betty Draper a nut job? Is Joan Harris back for good? Can the ambitious Pete Campbell be trusted? I am counting the minutes.

If you  need to get your fix in the meantime I recommend spending some quality time designing your very own 60’s avatar at AMC’s new & improved “Mad Men Yourself”. I did. A few times. Here’s my fave:

Julia, Music Director

See this music scene

Has the music scene got you down? Get up! Let Blockhead’s video take you someplace else.

Julia’s Picks: The Best Songs of 2009

Miike Snow- “Animal”
Best Reminder: no matter what shape you take, you are still an animal.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Dirty Projectors- “Stillness is the Move”
Best harmonies: beautiful and strangely soulful. At times both uncomfortable and mesmerizing.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Kings of Leon- “Use Somebody”
Best late-night drunken lust anthem. This song has the potential to be covered by many blues & soul bands for years to come and butchered in karaoke bars forevermore.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Bat For Lashes- “Daniel”/”Glass”
It’s a tie here. Really, “Daniel” is the jam. It has that great driving rhythm and dark strings. But “Glass” has that note she hits. Yes, that note. Best imitation of breaking glass.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

M. Ward- “Never Had Nobody Like You”
A perfect M. Ward song from the near perfect M. Ward album Hold Time. Best interpretation of timelessness.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Phoenix- “Lisztomania”
So many delicious pop morsels on Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix it is so hard to pick a favorite. Some days I am more “Girlfriend” and some days more “Fences” or “1901”. But “Lisztomania” is pure sugar. Best sacrifice of lyrical sense for fun. Discuss discuss discuss discourage…
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Camera Obscura- “French Navy”
Best combination of sweet and precious (without being too sweet and precious).
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Jay-Z- “D.O.A. (Death of Autotune)”
Best message to the mainstream. Also, cool obscure guitar sample.
WEBSITE

Franz Ferdinand- “Ulysses”
Best reason to chant “La La La La” on a road trip.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Mayer Hawthorne- “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out”
Best retro-soul attempt by a white guy.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Avett Brothers- “Kick Drum Heart”
Best kick drum.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

White Rabbits- “Percussion Gun”
Best tom toms.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Grizzly Bear- “2 Weeks”/”While You Wait for the Others”
Tie again. Is there anything that is not super fantastic on this album? Best overrated album that is actually not overrated.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Jamie Foxx – “Blame It”
Best excuse. Actually, lamest excuse. But, it’s the best invocation of said lame-ass excuse. Wait, when did this song even come out? I don’t remember… Blame it on the…
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Little Dragon – “Swimming”
Sexxy. Best use of feminine wiles.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

The Heavy – “Sixteen”
Sexxxy. Best use of masculine wiles.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Thunderheist- “Nothing 2 Step 2”
Best soul-fueled dance anthem from Canadians.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Kid Cudi feat. Kanye West & Common (and ahem, Lady Gaga) – “Make Her Say”
Wow this song is super misogynistic and naughty. Proof that even though I love lyrics and female empowerment, a good groove and a hook, darn it, makes you feel wrong but oh so right. Best incorporation of the ever-ubiquitous Lady Gaga & “Poker Face” double-entendre.
LISTEN
WEBSITE

Tom Waits- “Tom Tales”
Not an actual song- just one full disc of Tom Waits telling fantastical tales and random facts. Like sweet honey to an uber-Waits fan such as myself. Best reason for a double disc release.
WEBSITE

Julia Rose Cummings
Producer, Branded Music/Voice Talent
PlayNetwork, Inc.

Monsters Of Folk: “Say Please”

It sounded insipid and self indulgent at first. Especially the name- Monsters of Folk. But upon deeper listening I now know there is nothing wrong with some of today’s best indie-folk songwriters writing songs together and jamming. In fact, it is entirely right. Their self-titled album, released in September, is philosophical and dark, moody and beautiful. And even with all that it does not take itself too seriously as this new video for “Say Please” typifies:

WATCH NOW!

Buy: Amazon or iTunes

Um, roller skating in what appears to be the wild west? That’s what folk will do to you.

Okay, more please. I said please…

Julia
Producer, Branded Music/Voice Talent
PlayNetwork, Inc.