PLATF9RM Members’ 9 Top Albums For Getting In The Zone

You’ve got deadlines looming. An inner feeling of dread is mounting. Your concentration…. wait, is that a dog over there??? Nevermind. Where were we? Oh yeah– your concentration. It’s shot. Things are looking gloomy and that deadline has never looked so precarious.

But don’t worry. We’ve got you. Here’s the nine albums PLATF9RM members play when they desperately need to get sh*t done. These are tunes to bring us back to earth – to focus – when our brains threaten to drift into the stratosphere of endless procrastination. They’ll transport you to the ever-elusive zone and turn those “To Do” lists into “Bloody Well Done” lists.

And yes we know Spotify’s pretty good at churning out concentration playlists. But they're basically algorithms; we're proper humans, with proper recommendations.


Kerri Lush

My concentration album is most certainly 新しい日の誕生 by 2814

Released in 2015 on the London-based Dream Catalogue's label, ‘Birth of a New Day' is a mystical, heady journey through a Blade Runner-esque cityscape. Often tied to the vaporwave genre, this album brings together ambient-electronica (a la Tangerine Dream or Vangelis) with an imagined sci-fi future dystopian aesthetic. On paper it should be a distraction, but I find the sound induces a wide-eyed state of productivity.

Zoe Brownrigg

RX Y is an alternative to Bon Iver for those who who love Bon Iver but don’t want to be distracted by their favourite songs whilst working. RX Y’s peaceful guitar and indistinguishable lyrics will lull you into a calm work-flow. Also very good as background music to yoga.

Cliff Ettridge

I have a go-to album that I use– usually very late at night – when I simply have to hit a deadline: Pieces in a Modern Style. Pieces in a Modern Style by William Orbit.

This simply is the album to let your mind get lost in. If you are trying to focus, it acts like an aural massage. It bathes you in very simple electronic strings and its smooth sounds allow you to concentrate fully.

It's not an album you have to try hard to listen to whilst working. It's more a soundscape that envelopes you. Simple, soothing, soaring, mellow: it inspires thoughts and focuses the mind.

Once playing, I tend to forget what time of day it is. It could be 1.00am in the early hours, it could be 8.00am in the morning, even 3.00pm in the afternoon. It usually goes on late at night but, when I'm wrapped up in it, I could be anywhere.

Lana Burgess

My ultimate concentration album is Tomorrow's Harvest by Boards of Canada. The opening track, ‘Gemini’, starts with a filmic fanfare that sets the scene for a productive writing session like nothing else. The ambient electronic sounds are calming and progressive, keeping me focused and blissfully lost in flow as I write.

Pete Blunden

So for me, it'd have to be the Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit's third album, Stay Gold. All their albums are exceptional, but this one gets the most plays. There's something about the steadily beating drums, flowing guitar and passionate, echoing vocals that provide an overwhelming sense of calm. I often catch myself thinking in multiple directions at once, but those sisters focus my kaleidoscopic thoughts into a laser-sharp focus beam. Pew pew!

Abbie Swan

The Blaze - Territory. Short, but very sweet. With a gentle mix of instrumental electronics and emotive vocals, this album makes it easy to zone out and focus on whatever is in front of me. As a designer I definitely need upbeat music to create a fast working pace, so this works perfectly.

Dale Blackburn

Generally speaking I’ll look for something instrumental and rhythmic. I want to avoid getting distracted with lyrical content or ambient drift. Often this can range from hip hop to post rock to electronic music, with some of my top artists being Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Explosions in the Sky, and Dawn of Midi. However, my definitive “getting stuff done” album would be Tycho and their album Epoch:

It’s got the right balance of instrumentation and dynamics, with the shifting rhythms and melodies setting a decent pace to work at. I particularly like their mixture of analog and digital

Jim Turner

When I need to get stuck into something proper and create some good work, it has to be an album that helps my mind shift into that state. I want to be transported and lifted out of the normal trudge to some other place where the sparkling mind stuff can happen. You’ve gotta let that magical transformation occur to be able to create something out of nothing.

Astral Weeks has got to be the one. Released in 1968 when Van Morrison was in his early twenties with a band of jazz musicians he’d never met before. It’s a transcendental album that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Each song is a perfect meditative spell to take you to that elsewhere we’re looking for, where creating good work is baked right in. So, put those headphones on, play ’Madame George’ and see what happens.

Maddy Zoli

I'm one of those people who really listens to anything. It is hard to pick just one favourite, but speaking of my work I know exactly the genre of music that really helps me getting "in the zone". While I work on my illustrations, I usually listen to a mix of bossa nova and jazz music from a unique Japanese band who do Studio Ghibli covers. Some people think that jazz is kinda "messy" but paired with bossa nova’s milder melodies, it is perfect to relax the mind and keep concentration on what you’re doing.


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Guestblog: Kerry Watkins - 2018’s Social Media Trends That Every Business Should Know

You’ve only got to take a nap and something has changed on social media - a new feature, a different algorithm or new metrics. And it can be hard to keep up! But these are four key trends that I think have had a really positive impact for many businesses.

Instagram ‘Stories’ take over!

2017 was a big year for Instagram Stories and brought us the Stories Highlights feature - allowing us to save our Stories content. Good for all marketers out there who couldn’t quite get to grips with ephemeral content only lasting for 24 hours! ‘Stories Highlights’ allows you to create saved packages of your Stories and make them available online for all eternity (or until you decide to delete them). And because highlights are saved on our profiles, stories can receive many more views if they are saved. You can also see all your old stories in Instagrams ‘Archive’ - I loved it when this feature appeared! - where you can go back to your old Stories (well, ‘old’ as in more than 24 hours old!) and add them to Highlights if you wish.

Facebook Advertising Gets More Sophisticated

You may have noticed at the start of 2018 that the reach of your organic Facebook posts took a dive. (Again!) So whilst this was good for us in the sense that we now see more content from friends and family, we’re not seeing brand content. Hence the need for an advertising budget. This year has seen brands investing more in ads outside of the typical ‘single image traffic ad’ - including Instagram Story video ads, Store visits ads and FB messenger ads. We’ve worked with a few businesses recently who have seen great results with Messenger ads as it gives them an opportunity to build a rapport with potential clients without taking them away from Facebook. It’s really worth spending time looking at the different campaign types on offer from Facebook and thinking how this could help your business. It’s still such a cost effective platform compared to all other networks.


LinkedIn video grows

In 2017 LinkedIn rolled out native video and many businesses have seen a big increase in reach and engagement with their connections. Even though they were the last to the party with video, LinkedIn does offer a unique platform for B2B marketing. Video regularly out-performs static content and the reasons are simple - the movement of visual content catches our attention and keeps us engaged. It takes less effort to consume video content than written content and, in the world of B2B sales and marketing, building trust is key and video does that. Over the next couple of years, we’ll be seeing more and more video on all networks and I’d definitely recommend getting involved.

Shoppable Instagram

Last, but by no means least, Instagram finally rolled out shoppable posts to the UK meaning that any ecommerce site could tag products in Instagram posts, giving the shopper a more seamless shopping experience. You need to sync a Facebook catalogue with your Facebook shop so Instagram can link products directly to your website. Not always as simple as it sounds though - trust me, I’ve heard many people banging their heads on their desks trying to get this working. Once set up, it is a really valuable feature that makes it a much smoother consumer journey, especially because Instagram still doesn’t let us hyperlink to URLs in captions! One thing at a time though I guess.

Kerry Watkins is the founder of Social Brighton, a boutique social media agency passionate about helping businesses achieve their goals through social with a tailored approach.

Social Brighton are a small team of social media experts specialising in strategy development and consultancy, training courses and workshops and a more hands on approach to managing social media and paid advertising.

Kerry is leading a PLATF9RM Learns session called ‘How To Be A Social Animal’ on September 5th. Book your place here.

David Bramwell Interviewed About Communities, Secret Italian Temples, And Why He Loves Bom-Bane’s

David Bramwell is someone that does many things well. On his occupation roll call he’s got author, journalist, documentary maker, podcaster, public speaker and musician (God, he’s probably really good at cooking too).

Perhaps not surprisingly, he’s electrically engaging company so we’re delighted that he’s coming to PLATF9RM to give a talk about his book, The No.9 Bus To Utopia. He wrote the book after a difficult break-up and, deciding he needed to get better acquainted with the art of sharing, went off in search of Europe and America’s most unique communities.

We grabbed David – a Hanover resident and also co-author of the massively successful Cheeky Guide To Brighton – for a chat to talk happy communing and the best of secret Brighton.

PLATF9RM: To the uninitiated, can you describe the premise of No.9 Bus To Utopia?

David: I spent a year traveling around Europe and America, visiting the strangest and most inspiring alternative communities. I went to anarchist communities, free love communities, fetish communities, spiritual communities. My favourite was Damanhur in the Italian Alps. They built an underground temple that’s the size of St Paul’s Cathedral. No-one even knew they had done it! They also claim to have built a time machine and to have taught plants how to sing…

Woah. Can anyone go to Damanhur?

Yes. I love encouraging people to go there! People should cross the Pyramids or the Sphinx off their bucket list and go to Damanhur instead.

How old were you when you were doing this?

I’m 50 now and it was nine years ago so you can work back from there…

How do you relate to the person who wrote the book?

At that time I was immersed in the cult of individualism that western societies fought so hard for in the 20th-century. It’s like the Wild Ones sample used by Primal Scream (in the song 'Loaded'): “We wanna be free to do what we wanna do. We wanna get loaded and have a good time”. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this but there’s a lack of community and sharing and we lead more isolated lives. There’s a price to pay: we have spiraling depression; increased suicide rates; people having a lack of meaning and purpose.

Do you think people are now starting to become more aware of the importance of community?


I do. Look at something like Sunday Assembly. It has the community aspects of church, but does away with the need to believe in an interventionist God. So you attend, sing along to Cyndi Lauper or ABBA, have some cake and watch a great speaker. I think we’re turning to experience-based community sharing.

You are a freelance writer so you must encounter periods of solitude. How do you combat this?

I do, absolutely. Last week i did some voluntary work and spent the day handing out tote bags and stickers at Brighton Digital job fair. It gave me a sense of sharing and being involved in my community.

Were there any common traits in the communities you visited?

Pride is a troublesome word but I’d say pride in the place, the life and the system they’ve chosen to live by. Also the necessity of compromise when you’re living with a bunch of people. Neighbourliness! When I was in Christiana, an anarchist community in Copenhagen, a guy was doing massive changes to his house. I told him he was going to have to hire some professionals. He said, “Why would I do that? My neighbours will help me.”


Did you find that people were happier?

People were happier in these communities because they’d made a choice go there. They were mindful of their neighbour’s health. I was massively struck by was how creative the architecture was; when people are left to their own devices they don’t just build their ordinary homes; the build really amazing buildings.

You also wrote the Cheeky Guide To Brighton which has been a huge success. What three secret things would you recommend to do in the city?

Club Silencio at Subline: the best, the weirdest, the most funny underground cabaret night. It’s run by Stuart Warwick and is just brilliant; it could only come from Brighton.

Bom-Bane’s on St George’s Street is the home of Jane Bon-Bane. She’s a wonderful human being and a great performer who does a lot of nights in her 27-capacity room downstairs. Despite its size she’s had people like Stewart Lee, Jerry Dammers from The Specials, and Robin Williamson from The Incredible String Band. Big name performers go there because they love her.

My number three would be Brighton’s weirdest piece of outsider art. It’s on the beach between Concorde 2 and the Palace Pier; a stone grotto created by fishermen that continues to grow. It has strange figures looking out to see, it has creatures, 12-foot high stone statues, archways, all built from flint from the beach. When you walk past it – it’s big and and there’s a fence round it – you almost don't see it. But when you look for it, you’ll think, ‘How did I not see this before?’.

We’ll be sure to check it out. Thanks David!
David’s talk is on Wednesday, July 4th. You can buy tickets here and all proceeds go to our 2018 partner charity, Clock Tower Sanctuary.

Guestblog: How To ‘Do’ Brighton Fringe

An event as large as Brighton Fringe can seem rather overwhelming (well, it IS England’s largest arts festival, with over 1000 separate events) so here are our PLATF9RM Member, Steve Bustin's thoughts on how you can have your best Fringe EVER!

The First Steps...

Get tooled up. Pick up a copy of the Brighton Fringe brochure, the family brochure (if you’ve got kids), download the app and log into the website. Set up an account on the app or site so you can store your favourites. The app and website will also have listings for hundreds of shows that didn’t make it into the brochure, so it’s worth looking online as well as offline. All the large venues also publish their own brochures, with more space for each show so they can be slightly easier to peruse than the main brochure, but you can book tickets for all shows at all venues in one place.

Think about becoming a Friend of Brighton Fringe to access 2-for-1 ticket deals on hundreds of shows (which will cover your membership almost immediately), no booking fees, invites to Friends events and a range of discounts and special offers all year across the city.


Explore Some ‘Cross Sections’ Through The Brochure

OK, we know the Brighton Fringe brochure can be a little overwhelming with so much to choose from and so many listings. The trick is to take some ‘cross sections’ through the brochure, looking at smaller groups of shows and events so you can ‘see the wood for the trees’. Here are some ideas how:

  • The Seasons. This year the Fringe includes a Dutch & Flemish season, a Finnish season, The Freedom season and the arts industry focused ‘Window’ season of shows that are ready to tour nationally and internationally. Each has its own page at the front of the brochure and on the website. Check them out to catch some of the best international shows.
  • The award and bursary winners. You’ll also find these at the front of the brochure – shows, performers and companies that have won awards or bursaries in the last year, often at Brighton Fringe or other fringe festivals around the world. Catch an award-winning show or see if you can spot this year’s winner.
  • On the website or the app, simply do some keyword searches for things you like. For instance, I love Stephen Sondheim’s work so I always search for ‘Sondheim’ - and hey presto, this year there are two shows featuring his work. You could search for anything from ‘puppets’ to ‘Black lives matter’ to ‘Donald Trump’ to find anything from drama to satire.
  • Keep an eye out for previews and reviews. All the local print, broadcast and online media will be previewing shows and then reviewing hundreds of shows afterwards. I particularly like Broadway Baby and Fringe Guru.
  • Many of the major venues run ‘Pick of the Fringe’ or ‘Heart of the Fringe’ shows, especially The Speigeltent and The Warren. These shows are a great chance to see a selection of excerpts from shows you might want to catch later in the month.
  • Take a punt. Pick up a flyer and give the show a try. Stay at a venue after your show has ended – and try the next show too. Go to visit the fab pop-up bars but catch a show while you’re there. Take a risk and see something you might not normally have chosen – you might be pleasantly surprised, and if you’re not, you’ve only spent about a tenner on a ticket. Share the shows you’ve discovered with your friends and ask if they can do likewise.

Here’s What I’m Hoping to See or Recommend Catching

These are very much my taste but you might see a few things here that appeal to you too!

  • Bourgeois and Maurice, Style over substance, Spiegeltent, Fri 4th & Sat 5th May 9pm – dark, twisted humour from this brilliant cabaret duo – not for the easily offended.
  • La Clique, Sabai Pavilion, every night of the Fringe, 9pm – cabaret/vaudeville/burlesque show.
  • Ida Barr, Granarchist, Spiegeltent, 1-3 June, 6.30pm – hilarious character comedy with this rapping music hall star. There will be bingo, there will be community singing and there may well be a hokey-cokey
  • Abstraction Park 7090: Preparing for Take Off, FREE – 31 May – 03 June. Fabulously surreal playground full of music, films and installations. Likely to be totally bonkers, but in a good way.
  • Warmth – pop-up sauna on Brighton Brach – every weekend throughout May. £10 per ticket. Enjoy a performance as well as a real sauna.
  • The OS Map Fan Club – The Dukebox, 14-20 May, 18.15, £9. This is my ‘take a punt’ show – I like maps, I like theatre, so thought I’d give this is a go, despite knowing very little about it.
  • Brighton Food Tours – Fri & Sat in May, 11am. 3 hour walking tour of some of the lesser known independent Brighton food and drink makers and sellers. £40 including all food and drink!
  • Geoffrey Mead’s London Road Tour – Fri, Sat & Sundays throughout May, 5pm. £8. This was one of the highlight of the Fringe for me last year. If you think London Road is a down-at-heel, low rent shopping drag, think again. This fascinating tour takes in history, geography, sociology and architecture.
  • Take Shelter – 12&13 May, 19&20 May, Downs Junior School. Step back to the 1940s when visiting the original WW2 Air Raid Shelter under the playground. £5.
  • Wind in the Willows, by Box Tale Soup – The Warren, 27&28 May, 2 June, 4.15pm. £10. My tolerance for puppets is VERY low but Box Tale Soup are the exception to the rule. Their adaptations of classics are beautifully done, using homemade puppets and a cast of just 3. Definitely not just for children.
So, you may well not want to see ANY of the above shows and events but don’t let that put you off. Dive in. Take a punt. Have fun. Have a great Fringe!