‘Soulful Magic’ for Designers.MX

21 Sep 2011

Some of you might know that music plays a very important role in my daily life. It's something I can't live without. There is no day that goes by that I haven't listened to music. The right music gets me in the mood. I'm sure this applies to many people, not only the creative. My kind of music sparks my creativity, it gives me inspiration…

Music and inspiration

As a designer, finding inspiration is crucial. Without it we will not be able to create or design beauty from the heart and soul. My method to find inspiration is trying to create the right mental state of mind. Listening to my favorite music relaxes me and puts me into that state, and so it stimulates my creative process. I'm calling it the zone, because in my head it feels a bit as if I'm disconnected from the world. I'm in my world if you like, designing, creating. Very focussed on what I'm doing at that moment…almost forgetting the world for a moment.

What's deep House

Everybody has a different taste in music. When looking at the Designers.MX playlists, I can only see that most (maybe all?) of them are way different than the type of music I listen to. Deep house music is my thing, more specifically soulful deep house. Most people will either have no idea what genre that is, or have a wrong idea. They might think it's a form of techno, because of the word house. I can assure you it has nothing to do with techno, or hard beats for that matter. On the contrary. Most of the music also includes vocals and often is highly influenced by soul, funk, jazz and disco. Besides soulful deep house, I also like progressive house, which is a sub genre and is usually instrumental and has a more techy vibe to it. Its closed sibling would be trance I think, but I'm not an expert in labeling things.

Snapshots of the cover art for my Designers.MX playlist
The playlist

The playlist I've chosen is a bit of a mix of deep house with in the middle a high level of soulful deep tunes with a lot of vocals from my favorite artists. It starts with some loungy chill music from Belgian artist Sven Van Hees, followed by one of my favorite tunes at the moment by the Lovebirds. Next is the beautiful jazzy song by Jaidene Veda, followed by the beautiful voice of Peven Everett, and some pure soulfulness by The Rurals, Kafele Bandele and Hosanna Littlebird. At the end of the mix is John Gazoo's fabulous 'What Happened', and my absolute favorite tune at this time by Vincenzo. I wanted to create a bit of a journey with the mix. Hopefully I've succeeded in doing that. Here is my Designers.MX playlist:

  1. Sven van Hees - Before Afterhours
  2. Lovebirds feat. Stee Downes - Want You In My Soul (Original Mix)
  3. Jaidene Veda - Who Knew (Veda Vocal Mix)
  4. Peven Everett - Sweetness Is (Koyla Remix)
  5. The Rurals feat. Ladybird - It's Magic
  6. Kafele Bandele - Stone Crazy Remixes (Lips Afro Deep Mix)
  7. UPZ & Kafele - Believing (Black Sauce Remix)
  8. Hosanna Littlebird - Times Of Change (Temple Movement Club Mix)
  9. John Gazoo - What Happened (Vocal)
  10. Vincenzo & Elon - Yarra Valley (Original Mix)
  11. The cover art

    Here's a little bit of my creative thinking behind the creation of the cover art. For the cover art I decided to draw the face of a woman closing her eyes. She's enjoying the tunes and has this overly smooth look. The typography expresses this same smoothness. To break the softness, and give the illustration some extra cachet, I added several textured layers with a little bit of a grungy touch. The illustration of the face was created in Illustrator, but placed as a SmartObject into Photoshop, where I added the texture effects, background and composition of the text.

    Cover art for the my Designers.MX playlist
    Gradient mesh and gradient blend

    For the illustration of the face, which is created in Illustrator, I've used gradient mesh for the lips, plus gradient blends for the nose and cheeks and shadow and highlight effects. I usually don't use the gradient mesh all too often since it's such a hard tool to master and get the effect you want. Though, I normally try to use it when I'm creating lips. The rows and columns created by the mesh aren't always exactly the way I want and the handles of the anchor points are rather complex to edit or tweak. For most special gradient effects I try to blend 2 shapes. Sometimes I add an Opacity Mask on top of that if I need to fade out the gradient blend.

    Hopefully some of you will give my playlist a try and escape into deepness with me. Don't hesitate to leave a comment at Designers.MX if my mix inspired you. If enough do, I'll take the time to create another one in the future. Enjoy!


  1. 1 John 22 Sep 2011

    That’s awesome that you like deep house. I’m a house fanatic! I tend to find myself either listening to other dj mixes, or listening to my own mixes.

    But if you’re looking for recommendations on more house music I’ll shamelessly plug my mixtape site in the house music section as well as Derrick Carter, who posts a lot of his live mixes on SoundCloud.

    Look forward to listening to your mix!

  2. 2 loethen 23 Sep 2011

    i like it

  3. 3 Andrés Botero 23 Sep 2011

    Completely agree with you, music is necessary to call inspiration as it triggers memories and desires we often don’t recall.

    I’ll try to listen to the list you’ve published. For me 80’s rock is the best for working on new things and jazz, soul and R&B for work like wireframing, thinking or coding. I can’t concentrate with silence.

    By the way, the illustration you made is absolutely beautiful, really, really amazing.