Up until I was 14 years old or so, I wasn’t interested in music. However, things changed when I got into level design. I noticed that music can help shape ideas and steer the flow when doing any artwork. Playing a favorite song would draw an image in my head which I could easily visualise and follow.
At that time the only band I was familiar with was Digitalism. The first song of that caught my ear was Pogo. Afterwards I got addicted to another one of their tracks named Echoes. When working on some levels, I had to play the corresponding track from this band, its as if what I was working on and the music belonged together.
Later on one of my friends introduced me to a band called Justice. From that point on I found out about Daft Punk, Crydamoure, Ed Banger Records and other funky Disco/French House artists.
When I started gaining more interest in programming, my music taste changed as well. French House and other Electronic genres were too distracting when trying to focus. Probably the biggest annoyance was rough transitions between the tracks. Due to this, I started listening to DJ mixes by Digitalism and Justice exclusively. However, that didn’t last for too long as well.
At this point I started actively looking for something new. I got into Techno (the slow kind), Dark Disco and other underground music genres. The mixes that stuck with me for a while were slow, with no lyrics (groovy bass guitar was a bonus). I was mostly listening DJs such as Manfredas, Sacha Funke, Budino, Thomas Von Party etc.
I got introduced to Vaporwave way before gaining interest into DJ mixes, however I never really spent time actively looking for specific artists or tracks. Recently I found out that this genre works really well with programming as its ambient and slow nature isn’t too distracting.
The downside is that you have to dig a bit to find something decent as there is a lot of junk. A lot of people refer to this genre as a meme, so quite a few tracks are made just for laughs. Yet there are some hidden gems hiding in SoundCloud and Bandcamp, waiting to be discovered.
I also really like the funky 80s and 90s aesthetic which comes with tracks of this genre. It can sometimes be a bit over the top. However, videos with old computer graphics, wireframes, palms and so on always bring a nostalgic feeling.
Finding new music
At one point I tried getting into Spotify as I’ve heard it provides good suggestions based on your listening history. However the artists that I was listening to at that time did not upload any sets to this platform. Also I was having a hard time finding the tracks of lesser known producers.
Alternatively, there is SoundCloud Weekly. This feature rarely gave me good suggestions as well. From time to time I would find a nice track, but that is a rare case. Last time I used this feature was half a year ago.
I believe that right now, the best way to get a continuous stream of new music that you like is to find a few DJs or producers whom are active on SoundCloud and follow them (as in using the Follow functionality). After a while your Stream will get flooded with new music. The added bonus is that the tracks are going be fresh (however sometimes the mastering can be a bit poor). I’m assuming this method would work on Spotify as well, given you could find your favorite artists/DJs on the platform.
I’ve compiled a few playlists to which I listen to daily and update from time to time. This list contains all the genres and artists that I’ve mentioned:
- Everything - super long playlist of mixes, I suggest scrolling all the way down and go upwards.
- TAPE 25 - calm and highly moderated mixes.
- Dream - interesting Ambient, Vaporwave and Synthwave tracks.
In addition to that, I’d suggest checking out musicForProgramming, great mixes, not only for programming.