Music curation can be craft all its own, which is why we crave human-curated playlists. Music services such as 8tracks, Beats, Songza, and Spotify build their communities and products around human curators who are passionate about sharing amazing music.
SD Hox is one such music curator who has become recognized in the Spotify and Playlists.net communities for sharing his exceptional stream of selections. SD Hox ranked #1 in 2014 on Playlists.net and received millions of listens for his playlists overall. Fluence is thrilled to share our interview where we dive into his inspiration, curation process, and special favorites.
What inspired you to start collecting and sharing your playlists?
Music has been a central part of my life for as long as I can remember. I started making mixtapes in high school for friends and family. I still have many of these mixes somewhere in my garage just waiting to be digitized. I began to take mixes more seriously when I was living in New Orleans and working as a bartender. I would make the mixtapes for the bar and I would love to watch the crowd just grooving to my selections. A few years later, I was running a nightclub in Colorado and I would put together the music played in the club before the live acts would come on stage. The club featured a diverse array of music and I would have to tailor my mixes to the band and the event. I learned a lot about motivating a crowd and building the excitement in the room as show time approached.
Now, in the digital age, I have the whole world of music at my fingertips and it is exciting to be able to share my mixes with a truly global audience. I still marvel at how many people that I have been able to reach through my playlists using this new technology. Many of my mixes are available on Spotify and through my blog (TheTastyTurntable.com) and I am about to start a curation project with Rdio that I hope will further broaden my exposure and open up a whole new forum for my work. Playlists.net has been a great supporter of my efforts and they have consistently featured and reviewed my playlists, which has really helped to build an audience of hundreds of thousands of listeners. Check it out!
Tell us a little bit about your music curation process.
I am constantly thinking about music and music curation. I can be walking through a neighborhood in London and hear a song and think “I need to do a playlist that captures the feel of this neighborhood,” (which is how I came up with The Bermondsey Beat playlist on Spotify). Similarly, I was having dinner one night in Shanghai when the amazing Afrolicious and Rob Garza remix of “Vampires” by Thievery Corporation started to play in the restaurant. It was one of those moments when you realize how great music connects the whole world. I went back to my hotel that night and immediately began working on a mix building around that song.
Other times, I will read an article or hear an interview about an event and then I’ll be compelled to create a playlist documenting the occasion. For example, two of my favorite creations center around the birth and death of Studio 54 in New York City.
The first mix is called “The Night That Changed Everything” and it captures the music played by DJ Nicky Siano at Bianca Jagger’s 32rd birthday at the club on May 2, 1977. At the time, Studio 54 had been open just one week but on that night the nightclub scene….and the music scene…were forever transformed. Siano’s mix included soul, funk, reggae and rock. This event really triggered the disco movement in the 70s and I love this playlist because it captures the songs that were the foundation for a sea change in both music and culture.
The second mix is called “The End of Modern-Day Gomorrah” and it chronicles the music played at the closing party at Studio 54 which came less than three years after Bianca Jagger’s birthday celebration. The disco era was being replaced by the grittier punk and new wave scenes. Studio 54, the epicenter of disco, closed with one final party which they called “The End of Modern-day Gomorrah”. The club’s owners were about to be imprisoned for tax evasion (right after the nightclub’s closing, cocaine and money were found in its walls). On this last night, however, Studio 54 was still the place to be. Through this playlist, you can recapture the final scene.
I am a bit of an obsessive researcher and crate digger (both digitally and real world). Once I come up with a theme for a playlist I can spend days researching the music to make sure that the lists are as authentic and comprehensive as possible. Some of my most followed lists are compilation lists featuring every number one song—each week—from the 1950’s to the present in both the U.K. and the U.S. These lists took weeks to properly compile, but they have turned out to be great collections capturing the history and development of pop music.
What are your top 3 favorite playlists right now?
Our motto at The Tasty Turntable blog is that music has no rules. New, old, slow, fast. Anything goes. With that in mind, one of my current favorite series of playlists is the monthly version of “The Tasty Turntable.” This playlist is the starting point for what I’m listening to at the moment. When I hear a song that I like, it goes into this list. Because I have a pretty diverse range of musical genres that I’m listening to, this playlist mirrors our motto. You will always find a mix of new discoveries and old favorites across many different genres.
Another list is “Unsigned Finds: The Next New Thing.” I recently published volume 20 of the series and, as the name suggests, the list focuses on new, unsigned and DIY bands. It is my chance to play A&R man for a while. We get a lot of submissions from new bands and it is always a challenge to narrow the list down. These lists have been some of the first to feature acts such as Bastille, Gotye, Rhye and The Neighborhood before they broke out.
My other favorite right now is “Groovin’ Cuban.” I love the soundtrack to the movie Chef and I walked out of the screening knowing that I needed to hear more like that. This mix let me expand on the already great soundtrack.
Best thing you’ve discovered on Fluence so far?
I love the focus on music curation and networking within the music business. I particularly like the way that the community encompasses virtually every aspect of music production, curation and consumption.
What’s new and upcoming for you in 2015?
More playlists…always more playlists.
Listen to the latest music selections here, and send music or videos to SD Hox here on Fluence.