I find it very difficult to work without music. I've always felt there's a certain artistic inspiration to be had from music, particularly when it's the more textured, atmospheric kind. How I got through all my art classes at school and college without music, I'll never know! OK, so maybe I can work just fine without it - but much better with it, where I can enclose myself in a musical bubble of concentration.
My taste generally consists of iconic and influential artists of the last 40 years. I'm talking people such as Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Gary Numan, John Foxx, Kraftwerk and Mike Oldfield etc. However
a lot of the time, I may choose instrumental music, as somehow it often feels more suited to the kind of paintings I produce. I
n particular I'm a big fan of Jean Michel Jarre, and have been since an early age. When I was little, every time I heard my dad listening to Jarre's classic Oxygène album, it would send me to some place else. I still have associations of that album with a superb book of SF and fantasy art called Space Wars, Worlds and Weapons, published in the late 70s.
Jarre's 1997 follow-up to his 1976 masterpiece, was the first thing I bought with my first ever paycheck. I remember the thrill of getting home and putting that album on and being swept away across epic dreamscapes. Much of Jarre's work, in particular the two Oxygène albums – as their titles and album covers suggest – deal with environmental issues. You only need look at Michel Granger's striking artwork on
Oxygène to know that under the famous melody, it's a suite of music centered around our own destruction of the Earth.
But themes aside, this kind of music for me is just perfect for painting environments and landscapes; no lyrics to dictate otherwise, and, being a synaesthete, the music affects my mood and the colours of the piece I'm working on. It's with that in mind, that I often find whatever music I'm listening to, integral to the creative process. But it has to be the right music!