Monday, December 11, 2017

2017 Wrapped, Smart Playlists & Benjamin Lory

Weekly Update 2017-50: Reviewing a year of music with Spotify's 2017 Wrapped, reminiscing about Smart Playlists, and the wonderful typography of Benjamin Lory.

Music: Spotify's 2017 Wrapped
In a similar fashion to 2016's year in review, Spotify has produced yet another interactive web experience for its users. People love to learn about their own habits (it's a form of narcissism, of course), and so the experience makes for an interesting trip down memory lane and a look at my year in music.

None of this is surprising.

I really do love Spoon. They've remained one of my favourite bands for a really long time, ever since I first heard I Turn My Camera On on an episode of Veronica Mars on CTV (Canada got the new episodes three days after the CW aired the premieres in the United States).

It's pretty cool that anyone with a Spotify account (free or paid) can access their own version of this experience chronicled from personalized data, I can see how it seems almost magical. It reminds me of how I used to make Smart Playlists in iTunes back in the day when I still used it. This is becoming more of a random thought, so read more on that below.

This weekend marked the fifth anniversary of my drumming band (which fell just before my personal second anniversary with the band). We played an amazing show in our rehearsal space, and honestly it might have been the best show I have ever performed. We sounded so incredibly good with our backup band, I played a huge cowbell-type instrument called a gonguĂȘ during Michael Jackson's The Way You Make Me Feel, we even played Salsa Percussiva without too many mistakes. On top of all that, I even got a great picture of me playing:

Occasionally my drumming face isn't terrible.

I had my first bike ride through a mild snowfall tonight, which was both scary and beautiful. I thought I would be clear to ride home before the streets became covered but it was too late. Good to know I can do it at least! Riding through Trinity Bellwoods was especially beautiful as the snow softly drifted onto my eyeballs and melted. Haha, sorry to be gross but honestly I got used to the feeling and it started to feel good after a few snowflakes. There may be something wrong with me.

I've been collecting ideas of things I want to accomplish during my week of winter holidays, and I'm hoping it'll be a productive week. I'd like to cook something fun, but I haven't come across the right recipe yet. I'll be on the hunt for some good recipes this week and collecting a list to go grocery shopping.

Random Thought: Smart Playlists
It's interesting to compare some of the exciting features of Spotify (my current music subscription service of choice) with the features of iTunes back in the day when I used it exclusively.

The current incarnation, Apple Music, doesn't produce the year-in-review feature for its users, but I find it interesting that its desktop app offers a much more robust system of analyzing and categorizing music and related habits than Spotify's desktop app.

Apple Music offers the Smart Playlist feature that will automatically create a playlist for you based on pretty much any detail or combination of details of your choosing, such as all songs with the word "love" in the title and released before 1975, or everything you listened to between 2:00AM and 7:30AM on every Friday between July of last year and today. Spotify curates the experience, but Apple Music offers more control to make your own experience. Based on Apple's product mantras for operating systems (like OSX or iOS) you'd think the role would be reversed.

Inspiration: Benjamin Lory
I have mentioned Trampoline Hall before on this blog, but if you haven't heard of it, don't get your hopes too high because it has nothing to do with trampolines. Instead of exercising your legs, you can exercise your brain at this monthly lecture series featuring three guest lecturers who speak about topics in which they are not professionals. Along with controversial Q&A periods that last as long as the lectures themselves, it makes for a good night out.

Alongside the sparkling and creative lectures are a different stage design and a different ticket design each month. The tickets are the first taste of what the event will be like, since they must be picked up from Soundscapes on College a few days before the event. They're always very interesting, and December's cohort was no exception.

Designed by Benjamin Lory, these seemingly random typographic arrangements are actually excerpts from the MC Misha Glouberman's introductory speech, which he strives to make "more and more the same" with each event. While I am a sucker for a good avant-garde (and slightly Dada) typographic composition, I was especially enamoured with these designs in the way they capture Misha's speaking style. He has an extremely toned way of addressing a crowd, the kind of tone that makes me laugh at the same joke every month for years.

Originally from France, Lory has immersed himself in the Toronto design community, especially with a wonderful project archiving and recreating street posters he found in Kensington Market. Lory posted the recreations around Kensington Market as a comment on the social fabric of the community. Called 100 Kensington Posters, check out some of the images below:

The original posters: Lory's inspiration for the project.

You can see something of a similarity between the Trampoline Hall tickets and this project. I like the roughness and stark communication style they both share. 100 Kensington Posters is really striking, I urge you to check it out on his website.

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