Mixtape Volume 3: Home / Dance Melt 2020

2020 will be a hard year to forget, no doubt. But dancing has always remained one of those human expressions that moves us.

Take a moment, or actually an hour, ten minutes and 21 seconds. This is Volume 03: Home / Dance Melt 2020. Make some space. Experience the transport, wherever that takes you with these hand-picked gems that'll be hard to deny on your living room floor!

Another 'HOME' themed series mixtape, this time titled "Melt 2020 x Dance!" in collaboration with Trinidad-born, Brooklyn-based Marlon Regis, aka DJ Pelau. Click the arrow to play here or listen on Soundcloud. 

While we are music lovers generally, we've found music has been an important elixir in these challenging times. We put on music when we wake up, making our breakfast and coffee. It's on all day at the shop. The first thing we do when we get home at the end of the day is pick some vibes to make dinner to. 

We are happy to share this curated music mixtape in collaboration with DJ Pelau. Make some space at home, to lose yourself as we say goodbye to 2020.

We also wanted to share some moments, musicians, stories and playlists from some of our collection of artists and designers who told us about the role music plays in their creative practice or in life.

Abacus Row, Christine Trac / Jewelry Designer
I'm a big fan of culture writer, author, poet Hanif Abdurraqib who has created 68to05.com which has been a place to discover/dive deep into music fandom. I follow him on IG and one of his recent posts led me to Carly Rae Jepson's Emotions album which I forgot how much I loved. 

While listening to the radio at some point this year, I heard Chris Thile sing Silver Dagger which led me to listen through many different covers of Silver Dagger. But then ultimately led to countless hours of Dolly Parton (including a podcast about Dolly Parton called Dolly Parton's America). That Chris Thile cover also brought me to Goat Rodeo Sessions (collaboration between Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile) which I play over and over. 

I love radio. I miss the curated and unexpected nature of what you might hear when you're in the car. I think Hanif with his playlists gives that sense of discovery without radio. And Chris Thile's voice just makes me think I'm listening to radio programming. Been enjoying Fiona Apple's latest album too. 

Maddalena Bearzi / Jewelry Designer
Music has always played a huge role in my life, and this pandemic time is not different. Music inspires me when I make jewelry, helps me to unwind when I am stressed and charge me when I mostly need it. I even listen to jazz or classical music when I write; it helps my creativity.

I love all type of music and American singer-songwriters and guitarist.James Taylor is one of my favorites.

My husband is - among other things - a musician so I love to listen to him whenever he plays.

Music is always around me and I can’t imagine life without music.

Linda Benenati / Encaustic Mixed Media Collage
I was born in Detroit and although my family came to California when I was seven, I have always been an old-school Motown girl. My teen friends liked the Beatles and I liked The Temptations and Marvin Gaye.

I have a 70’s tuner/radio in my studio and I only listen to the Oakland radio station KBLX — even on Sunday mornings for their gospel music program. I love the old school R and B but also enjoy a lot of the newer stuff including rap. When I am in my studio with my music, I am in “the zone” and having a small break from the crazy world we are all struggling with currently. When certain songs come on I love to dance and paint at the same time. I often wonder if other artists do the same. And sometimes,  lyrics will inspire a painting or title such as my “I’d Catch a Grenade For Ya.’  (Bruno Mars)

Music is essential for my art (it keeps me inspired, hopeful and moving).  Especially in these Covid times, I find that listening to “old-school" radio (rather than something that generates a play list or my own play list) makes me feel connected to the world at large. KBLX DJ’s are entertaining and they begin to feel like they are part of my studio family.  Mostly the music is upbeat and the songs with social messages are more relevant now more than ever.

I’m a dancer (Sabreen), so for me music is everything! I love when it inspires me to move and keeps me moving. I’ll often listen to something I like over and over again and then within a couple of days I’m ready to move to it. I have some level of training in ballet, african, modern & jazz dance and I like combining all of the styles to make a series of movements. I’m most inspired by music with multiple influences: soul, disco, jazz, hip-hop, reggae, funk, Afro-Cuban, salsa, electronic, classical. The music and the movement is like a relationship- the music inspires and supports the dancing. I always feel like I have dated the artist after spending time with their music and eventually dancing to it. Lately I’ve been dancing to funky Jamiroquai, electro tropical Colombian band Bomba Estéreo and jazz/r&b drummer Nate Smith. 

We always love music while we roast too. We’ve played Michael Jackson, Devo, David Byrne, N.E.R.D., Shabazz Palaces, James Brown, Mahalia Jackson, just to name a few. It just has to feel good to us.

(BiankA here) Music has played a big role in my life!  It has taken me on a beautiful journey of working alongside some amazing artist in the industry and creating platforms for other artist to showcase their ideas with music by their side.  After I dropped out the basketball programs of full scholarships from being an All-American Basketball player, I decided to focus on my music and art because it was moving me to become someone who was on stages, having all kinds of shows, and uplifting the world through what I created.  From New York I moved to Philadelphia and started playing and putting on shows at my house and soon found myself opening up and playing with folks from the Roots, Mos Def, Amir & Mikaal Sulaiman, Jason Mraz, George Stanford, Townhall, Gary Dann the Drummer for Digable Planets, opening up for Iron & Wine in front of a Million people, having the drummer from Special Goodness & Weezer in my band at one point, and then doing a collaboration with artist Sigur Ros & Ragnar Kjartansson from Iceland.  I said whoa!  From my house, to other peoples house, to bars, to galleries, to amazing performance art pieces with artist and dancers, to stages and shows with people I admire and love.  I truly feel Blessed!  My life thus far has been dynamic and full!  Music has been with me every step of the way.  I grew up on Gospel, Soul, Funk, Jazz, and R&B through my parents.  It was mainly my siblings and friends who introduced me to rock-n-roll, folk, and hip-hop!  What I listen to ranges from Mahalia Jackson, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, The Jacksons, Jackson 5, James Brown, Fela & Femi Kuti, all the Ethiopique albums, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Daedulus, the Roots, Mos Def, Joan Armatrading {which my Mom put me on too}, Teena Marie, Fleetwood Mac, Janis Joplin, Scott Joplin, Nas, Biggie Smalls {Which my Dad actually put me on too}, 2PAC, Aaron Neville, ADULT., Kruangbin, White Stripes, No Doubt, Al Green, Alabama Shakes, Ali Farka Toure, Alice Coltrane, Coltrane, Miles, Amadou & Mariam, Outkast, Kamasi Washington, Antibalas, Kudu, Tom Ze, David Byrne, Tom Tom Club, Devo, Art Blakey, Arrested Development, G.Love & the Special Sauce, Beirut, Ben Harper, Bob Marley, Bessie Smith, Betty Davis, Bill Withers, Bill Frisell, Bjork, Black Star, Blockhead, Bo Diddley, Bob Dylan, Bob James, Bobby McFerrin, Taylor McFerrin, Brandy, Brian Eno, Buena Vista Social Club, Buju Banton, The Specials, Caetano Veloso, CAN, CandlePower, Makaroni, Chaka Khan, Cesaria Evora, Chopin, Chuck Berry, Cinematic Orchestra, Curtis Mayfield, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Blondie, Daft Punk, David Bowie, De La Soul, WU-Tang, Everything But the Girl, Diplo, Santigold, MIA, Rhye-Rhye, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Ernest Ranglin, ESG, Esther Phillips, Fiona Apple, Donald Byrd, Marvin Gaye, Four Tet, Fred Hammond, Funkadelic, George Benson, Gill Scott Heron, Moreno Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Grace Jones, Grinderman, Gregory Isaacs, Grizzly Bear, Guns & Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, JDilla, JJ FAD, Jamiroquai, MF DOOM, Johnny Cash, Jorge Ben, K-Os, and I better stop here cause I could go on and on all night with the artist that move me!

Ende Collective, Krista Gambrel / Jewelry Designer
Whether it be a cool syncopated beat, a bass line, a mind-blowing vocal run, or the combination of a few of those things, music has a magical way of bringing new energy into the body and a feeling of connection into the heart. While being isolated during COVID, it was easy to get lost in the vacuum of my own space. I found myself flying to upstate New York on March 17th, the day SF went on lock-down, to be with my best friend and sister during her first pregnancy. I had no idea I'd be there until September - country roads, only 4,000 people in the city of Hudson, NY, not another friend insight. 

While I appreciated living in the forest with the wild rabbits, turkeys, and deer, I oftentimes missed my friends and longed to create jewelry. Music was one of the few ways I could express myself. Thank goodness I packed my guitar with me! On a few weekend nights, I found myself dancing on the outside deck alone to the Romare album from 2016 (absolutely killer) or singing to the dog with L'Impératrice - all wonderfully fun times but I was feeling that restless tingling that artists sometimes get when they're not creating enough. 

One morning I decided to sign up for online guitar classes to add to the singing lessons I was already taking. My guitar instructor assigned Country Roads, of all things, as my first song to learn and I was sent a few pages full of strum patterns to learn and perform over our next Zoom sessions. I'd often go out on my deck to practice Country Roads, riff around on my favorite Mariah Carey song (We Belong Together), and rework past songs that I'd written. At one point on an early summer afternoon, I even drew a small crowd of little children and eager parents who were out picking wildflowers near my property. During this "performance" the cutest, blonde-haired 2-year-old girl named Lilliana inched her way closer and closer until she was at the edge of my deck, nearly 10 ft away.  She couldn't speak a word of real English, but at that moment looking into her starry eyes, which were glued to my yellow guitar, I knew that she connected with the music. She smiled pointing her tiny fat finger at the guitar and I smiled while I finished up my song.

It was at that moment that I remembered how music can so easily bring people together. The call of the long lost melody so easily draws one near. The sway in the strum patterns and the language of the rhythm being played was enough to get through to that two-year-old and in some magical way, I felt inspired. For the next few weeks, I scheduled Zoom calls with friends all around the world to play them 1:1 concerts. Most of my friends had never heard me play and I learned that this exercise was great for building deeper bonds with old friends. One of my friends from Latvia even shared that Country Roads was his company's anthem - and he proceeded to send me videos of past company parties with his whole team of engineers singing the chorus with locked arms and drinks in hand. It's funny how a song can bring things full circle like that. 

During COVID, music inspired me to find new ways of sharing my art, it uncomfortably pushed me to find new channels of connection and music helped me to build deeper connections with friends that may not have happened otherwise. During COVID, the music within me was liberated, and that is a beautiful expression in and of itself. 

When I want to tune out the rest of the world I listen to Willy Nelson. He takes me back to happy nostalgic times.  I also listen to Leonard Cohen for a darker side. Love Chris Botti he really puts me in a creative mood
Kuddkrig, Kalla McGuire / Textile Designer
Music has such a large presence in my practice. My work is inspired by nature, experiences, and the relationships we have with both each other and the world around us.  Music is such an integral part of my process, partially because it gets me out of my conscious thought into less tangible feelings, theories and interpretations.  The genre of music I lean into varies day by day/and piece by piece, but the theme is consistently “dreamy”.  

A few of my go-to artists and songs in particular are:
- Patrick Watson
“Turn Into the Noise”
“Melody Noir”
“Sit Down Beside Me”
“Here Comes the River”
“Look at You”
“Strange Rain”
- Kendrick Lamar
“Paramedic!” (Sob x RBE)
“X” (ScHoolboy Q)
- Grimes
“Chasing Shadows”
- Andrew Bird
“Pulaski at Night”
- Phantogram 
“Don’t Move”
- The Flaming Lips
“Do You Realize??”
- Nina Simone
“Sugar in my Bowl”
“Do I Move You”
- Joni Mitchell
- Tom Waits
“All the World is Green”
- Badon Powell
“Canto de Ossanha”

Karen McAlister Shimoda / Mixed Media Artist
A new habit I have with music is to take long walks while listening to Spanish Classical Guitar. My body walks well to the tunes, the plucking of the strings. Without lyrics, the music, alone, allows me, without distraction, to consider an art piece I'm working on, to think creatively and to figure out how to overcome any challenges I'm encountering with the piece. The sound of Classical Spanish Guitar becomes a part of me as I walk and think. Because I live with family, listening to music while I walk is also a way for me to be in my own world for a while.

I stumbled on this song, Take the Cake from Cheshire by Brittney Jayy and around the same time I saw this video of the Lindy Hop from the movie Hellzapoppin' 1941, which then for some crazy reason made me want to learn to do a (socially-distanceable) slow Charleston. To make a short story longer, I've been trying this slow Charleston for months now, failing for months now, and deeply enjoying this non-success. In my mind, to dance is always to celebrate.

I usually try to listen to something informative about subjects that interest me– history, sociology, psychology, philosophy etc. Pre-pandemic I was listening to some Velvet Underground, Animals, Donovan, Tom Jones, the Kinks. :) The "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" soundtrack was one of my favorite CD's as a teenager.
I do love all kinds of music! Somewhere Over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz has been particularly relevant and comforting.

I always say if I wasn't a designer I'd want to be a musician. Can't live without music. I feel that musicians are the most gifted of all the artists. They are magical beings and I hope I do something good enough to come back as one in my next life.

Let's take an hour. Just to have. Whatever that brings you.

~ Bonnie & Jeffrey

PS Please follow DJ Pelau here on Soundcloud. We’d love our collaboration to support him gaining a new audience. Give our playlist a like by clicking the heart, repost it on your Soundcloud feed, and comment on the waveform where you are most moved! There's a contribution button, too, if you can. And lastly, please share with friends. Let's get the good vibes circulating! TY!

About Marlon Regis / DJ Pelau:
Now based in NY but always focused on the world, Caribbean-born Marlon 'DJ Pelau' Regis (pronounced “Peh-Laow”), is a multi-talented music stylist that has always lived being surrounded by rich music via life’s travels. Whether in his youthful days on the festive, multicultural streets of his birthplace in Trinidad, right home in Petit Valley listening to his dad's enormous jazz collection (his older brother's name is 'Miles') or in his adopted homes of Atlanta, NYC, Los Angeles and now Brooklyn, the direction of his music through DJing or producing compilations first aims to connect to the people. With an unwillingness to limit himself to one particular genre or social scene for that matter, expect a wide variety, hence his blog: …is the spice of life!

His selections, as music curator + programmer in the past, whether on the rooftop of The Standard Rooftop Bar (as a resident DJ in DTLA) or through corporate mediums such as DMX Music Inc, have always found SOUL in a constant rotation at well-established stores, boutiques, restaurants, hotels and beyond... Marlon has written for HuffPost, The Beat Magazine, HipHopSite, BPM, Unleashed Magazine, HipHopDX, Rolling Stone, The Source, Vibe, URB, Upscale, Rappages, ATM (UK), ColorfulTimes and Jahworks. Read more here.

We are so excited to showcase Marlon's music curation talents as a free streaming, non-commercial gift of good vibes– bringing you his soulful grooves, to transport you to moments that allow you to sink in, escape and connect.