At Spotify, music is part of our DNA – so each month we’ll be hanging out with a music-obsessed Spotifier as they tell us about what’s on their headphones. This time around, we chatted with Jason Sigal, an engineer working in personalized music discovery in New York City. He’s given us the lowdown on eight songs that have a special meaning to him.

 

Selda – “Yaz Gazeteci Yaz”

“Say it, journalist, say it!” Protest music from 1976 during times of political upheaval in Turkey. Selda Bağcan fuses Turkish folk with global psych/funk as she urges the media to tell the story of the people, rather than of the urban elite. Apparently she is a very humble person, but the government saw her music as a threat, leading to her imprisonment multiple times over the years. She’s continued to create music despite this and her work resonates today more than ever.

ESG – Moody (Spaced Out)

The four Scroggins sisters from the South Bronx plus their friend Tito on congas distilled elements of some of the most exciting music that was happening around them in the late 70s and early 80s—like post-punk, funk, disco, and hip-hop—into a stripped down analog sound. It’s crisp and minimal, just bass, percussion, and vocals. And it’s been sampled by everyone from Wu-Tang Clan to the Liars. This remix has some cool early electronics and tasteful delay.

Karnataka College of Percussion – “Konnakkol”

When I was in high school I found this album of South Indian traditional music in the record library at my local community radio station WPRB, and was particularly fascinated by this acapella track. “Konnakol” is the performance of a “percussion language” where each syllable corresponds with a different note on the mridangam drum. Some of my co-workers at Spotify studied North Indian classical music, and gave a memorable performance of the North Indian variant of percussion language.

Lucky Dragons – “Mirror Friends”

Luke Fishbeck was the grad assistant in a computer music course I took in college. As Lucky Dragons, he and Sara Rara make fantastic conceptual art and digital music that feels human. They explore the ways technology extends our creative abilities.

Chris Cohen – “As If Apart”

I first met Chris Cohen when his band Curtains and my old band hopped on a mini tour. Over time I realized he had a role in many of my favorite bands like Deerhoof and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. His solo albums are in my heavy rotation, they’re easy to listen to but have deep layers that reward repeat listening. This track was written in collaboration with Zach Phillips who cultivated a creative community in Brattleboro, Vermont around the OSR Tapes label and myriad musical projects, and plays on Chris Cohen’s next album, too.

Shoes – “Boys Don’t Lie”

Self-released DIY power pop recorded in a living room in Zion Illinois, 1977. “In this environment, if you wanted fun, you made it yourself,” so in high school they each picked an instrument to learn—all you really need is a few chords!—and worked their way up to a 4-track tape machine. After a string of self-releases they found major label success and were an early MTV hit.

The Clean – “Odditty”

New Zealand fuzzy lo-fi guitar pop. I love songs that say “it’s alright” and “oh yeah.” It makes me feel alright. Oh yeah, and I love The Clean!

The B-52’s – “Rock Lobster”

I have a vivid memory of first hearing this song as a kid, in a friend’s family station wagon. The music felt strange and off kilter. What kind of people were making this music? I wondered. As I tried to make sense of it, I pictured some underwater musicians—a lead singer, a spooky keyboard player, some sh’doo-b’dop vocalists—and placed them each at different points within this imaginary environment, along with the rock lobster and various sea creatures. I was just sitting in the back of that Volvo, but the music really transported me.