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405's Lyle Bignon takes the Harkive challenge

405's Lyle Bignon takes the Harkive challenge

by Lyle Bignon, Photography by Craig Hamilton, 08 July 2013

Being a home taping, Chart Show watching, music magazine subscribing child of the 1980s, I've had relationships with a fair few music formats in my life to date.

Graduating from a small vinyl collection of mainly 7" singles to a medium-sized collection of C60s and C90s ranging from albums that cost £12.99 at the time to label samplers and recorded radio shows, I finally hit the hard stuff, the mighty Compact Disc. I've still got around 600 of the things, collecting dust because I can't bear to part with them.

Even the 12,500 .mp3, .wav and .aiff files sitting on a hard drive don't get the obsessive love they once did.

There's something comforting about having vinyl, CDs and cassettes all around me, while I openly cheat on them with services, platforms and apps such as 8tracks, Grooveshark, Rdio, Mixcloud and Google Play - all a couple of clicks away with beautiful discovery and shareability functions.

I am, like many of you my fellow music fans, now in love with streaming music.

On Tuesday 9 July a new online music project will aim to capture the essence of what it means to be a music fan in 2013, by inviting vinyl purists and Spotify tourists across the globe to submit the story of how, where and why they listen to music on the day.

Harkive, which takes inspiration from the hugely successful Record Store Day, asks fans to contribute their stories in a number of ways, either by emailing the project, posting via social media services such as Twitter using the #harkive hashtag, or by posting on the wall of the Harkive Facebook page.

The intention? To capture for posterity a global snapshot of the way in which we interact with the sounds and technology of today, and get to the essence of what music means to us as all.

Fascinated by the idea, I documented my day of music listening on Monday 1 July. Have a read, and take part yourself on Tuesday 9 July - find out more here.


0700: My DAB radio dragged me from a dream about guns and waterfalls with Shaun Keaveny on BBC 6 Music. It was all Glastonbury froth in between tracks, though out of the seven I heard being played (Foals, Groove Armada, Human League, Arctic Monkeys, The Vaccines, Janelle Monae and Jagwar Ma) only one was taken from the festival over the weekend. Thank fuck; my self-imposed Glasto blackout has been infringed a number of times already in the past week.

It's usually the 6 Music Breakfast Show or the Today on BBC Radio 4 that gets me up, depending on what the day ahead is due to bring work-wise. It's always useful to get the morning news agenda early on: arts related reports, Matt Everitt's music news or artist interviews can often suggest ideas for content to put out via the work social media channels later that morning to get conversation flowing… and to, y'know, *PR face* 'stay on trend'.

0730: I use my laptop hooked up to a sound system to have the radio on during breakfast, whilst skimming messages, emails, Twitter, Facebook, BBC online, the Guardian, Music Week etc.

0800: My morning commute soundtrack is pretty much always delivered by Spotify or Soundcloud via iPhone. This morning it's a mix of selected songs from Congo Natty's blistering new album Jungle Revolution, uploaded by Big Dada recordings on their Soundcloud stream (and later removed as the album has dropped today but it's on the Guardian Music site), plus a bouncy track by Yacht via the DFA Records stream and a remix from Moscow fireman-turned-beatmaker 813 via his stream before I switch to UK hip-hop EP End of Level Boss Music from Percy Filth & Mylo Stone over on Spotify.

On Soundcloud, I'll often just scan through the latest uploads in my stream, looking for familiar names of artists, labels, promoters or media outlets and play whatever looks more of interest. I'm more likely to go for something that has been put out by an artist than any other type of user; it annoys me when majors like Atlantic Records or media outlets like the BBC World Service publish a batch of sounds at once clogging my feed. In my head, this is The Man is preventing me from getting to the real gems out there. In reality, I should probably clean up my follows.

I've been paying for a Spotify Premium account for around 18 months now, and have taken advantage of the offline mode to build Top 100 and best of 2013 playlists (both work in progress) as well as downloading playlists from Domino Records, This Is My Jam, Blue Note Records and adding full albums that I've either reviewed or discovered through recommendations, browsing etc. It's for lazy consumers, doesn't remunerate artists fairly IMHO and is bloody convenient.

0830: I'm in the office and fire up Last.fm on my work PC to listen to my library + recommended mix. It throws out Steel Pulse, Villagers, The Knife, Desmond Dekker, Camille, Jose James, Deptford Goth, Kavinsky, Steve Reich, Beastie Boys, Nightmares on Wax, Hooded Fang, Austra, Chromeo, Dexys, Grace Jones, Ry Cooder, Cerys Matthews, The Melodians and Tribes amongst others. If you're into digital voyeurism, you can peep my playlist choices here.

Free School radio has been getting a lot of plays the last few weeks too, delivering plenty of space disco, Motorik and Balearic loveliness – I've come across some absolutely incredible music recently thanks to this particular station.

I've recently rekindled my love affair with Last.fm, partly because Spotify's 'related artists' feature wasn't cutting it for me. I also wanted to compare the level of service between bigger music streaming platforms. I don't subscribe to Last.fm but the more I'm using it again, the more I feel like I should be - I'm finding a lot of great artists and tracks via the site. I love the stats side of Last.fm too. Seeing who and what I've been listening to most at different times is fascinating - I can use them to pinpoint various black or hypomanic moods, projects, discoveries, places I've been etc.

1145: I discover Specials founder and all round eclectic selecter Jerry Dammers is playing a DJ set at a local music venue in August, the day after Brazilian sambass and DnB king DJ Marky is due to play. And it's a Bank Holiday. Rejoice. Tweet and Facebook it.

1200: Whilst reading through the weekend papers, I come across a pretty awesome interview with Janelle Monae by Kate Mossman for the Observer. Devour. Tweet and Facebook it.

1215: Working with the Jazzlines team over the past 12 months has opened my ears to a metric fuckton of jazz music that I had no idea previously existed - from fairly established artists like Portico Quartet, Roller Trio and the phenomenal Jose James to newish bands like Melt Yourself Down who are pretty damn cool too.

I'm also fortunate to live in a city which has a flourishing jazz scene, and one that cross pollinates with electronica, hip-hop, funk, soul and plenty more. Through various projects, gigs and artistic partnerships I've been introduced to some of the best artists and ensembles currently performing and recording in Birmingham. Today I'm looking over PR and biographies for Jonathan Silk (with his big band) and Mike Fletcher (with his Coltrane/Reich influenced project Night Train). Both tasks inevitably involve taking a listen to their music via so I have an idea of their sound - the artists have uploaded their work to Soundcloud, though for Mike I went via his website first.

1300: Catch the local news (BBC WM) via the web player on my work computer for the headlines, then flick back over to Last.fm for a few hours.

I've been sent a couple of promo copy CDs of artists whose shows I might be working on, but as (a) they are already out on general release so I can stream them (b) my work computer's sound is lame and (b) I don't want to listen to them, they go on the pile to perhaps be used as a competition prize at some point in the future.

Earlier I read about a man who drove out to Death Vally in near-record temperatures of 51 degrees for an Associated Press feature. He wasn't able to keep an electronics or CDs in the motor (which was black, adding a few extra degrees of heat inside) because they'd melt. I wanted to write something clever here drawing parallels between the end of the world and the demise of physical music formats but ran out of juice. Sorry.

1400: I've been emailed a link to a video to potentially embed in a blog post on an emerging artist. The post is already live and constructed of around 150 words, two Soundcloud embeds and a lead photo, and unfortunately although the sound quality on the YouTube clip is good, but the visuals are made up entirely of photos so I skip through it for maybe 45 seconds before deciding not to use it.

1445: I come across a behind-the-scenes explanation of how this promotional ad which I was slightly involved in, came about. Interesting to note where the music sync came from in the director's post here.

1600: Last.fm times out, most of my colleagues are out at meetings so we have a little bit of music-free peace for an hour or so, which is complemented beautifully by drilling from the big fuck off building site outside my office.

1800: Five minutes of Rinse FM via the TuneIn app on iPhone before some inconsiderate sod calls me.

1830: I'm back home and I've thrown on Sistrionix by LA rock and roll duo Deap Vally via Deezer on the laptop. I interviewed the guitarist/singer Lindsey last week for The 405 and spent a few hours yesterday writing up an 1800 word feature. The private stream I'd been sent expired today, and anyway most of the delivery platforms labels use - like PlayMPE - are not awfully user-friendly. It was nice to hear the record in full for pleasure, knowing I'd filed the interview.

Speaking of which, the next album on the PlayMPE list is Body Music by AlunaGeorge, which I'm reviewing for The 405. It's on and so far, so good - the stream is pretty consistent.

1915: I've just spotted an interesting story on Twitter about the producer Zomby blasting a Pitchfork writer about incorrect claims in an interview. After reading the Line Of Best Fit's quick news story on the 'incident' I've flipped back into my music folder and found a track called 'Godzilla' by Zomby off the DJ Kicks Gold Panda release. That gets a play then it's dinner, whilst the player slaloms through my tracks on random - TLC, Scratch Perverts, Robyn Hitchcock, Grinderman, Gilles Peterson, Elvis Presley, Major Lazer & La Roux, London Elektricity, Feist and Max Romeo.

I've always been one for compilation albums and the old shuffle function. As much as I love to play seminal albums like London's Burning, Strange Days, Graceland, 3 Feet High And Rising or Handsworth Revolution straight through in chronological order, the linear path of newer albums - unless it's a concept album like Janelle Monae's Archandroid - means little to me anymore. Shame, that.

2000: I'm off to see the brilliant Matthew E. White tomorrow night, and it's been a while since I've hammered his album Big Inner, so the mp3 version gets a couple of spins through my stereo via Windows Media Player. here for my dirty listening habits.

2100: Whilst reading back through the notes I've made for Harkive today, I've been reminded of a number of tracks I want to listen to, so between my local music folder, Spotify and Soundcloud, I have a short but intense blast of tracks from Samuel Barber, Orbital, GZA, Wrongtom and CocoRosie. What a festival line-up that would be.

2130: Whilst finishing off an email I stretch my foot out and accidentally dislodge the pile of 7" vinyl that sit under my desk. This action launches a weird stream of consciousness thing where I wonder if we'll all have memory cards implanted in our temples in 100 years and can shuffle through tracks and albums with just the power of thought, and whether in the grim and most likely dystopian future all physical forms of music will be outlawed under threat of death by some awful mechanical hound. I look up the last track I've listened to, in search of a sign, a message, anything. Hall & Oates, 'I Can't Go For That'. That's enough for one day.


For more details, head over to harkive.org.

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