Listen. Drive. See: A collaborative project. / by chris miele

I've mentioned before how influential and inspirational music is within my work.  Knowing that I'd be hitting the road for 2 weeks in May, I recognized a perfect chance to again create within a musical space.  While I've often paired particular images to songs during expeditions, I wanted to take it a step further.  In my quest to always be creatively fueled, I lean on my deep network of music loving friends to share new food for audible thought.  For this project I propositioned a handful of friends to provide either a song or an album for me to create to.  I wanted to soak in the entire vibe of their selections and see what type of images would accompany the notes.  Equipped with 2 weeks, 3000 miles to cover, and an increasingly different outlook on my own work, I was extremely excited and intrigued to see what I could generate.  The process of creating and pairing each image varied.  Some were conceived after listening, some while listening, and some ideas were premonitions even before listening.  I hope each pairing gives new insight to a way in which I love creating images and telling stories. 

 

Winter found us just west of crossing the continental divide in Colorado.

"Birthday Flurries"  Pagosa Springs, CO
Edamame - "Ambrosia"

I had been waiting for this image.  Not because of the snow (even though it was the keystone component) but because of this album.  I had been jamming to Edamame's Lawndale for sometime and had already been mentally creating accompanying images.  When my friend Allie made this her suggestion for me, I was pumped.  Originally thinking it would take till the back end of the trip and the sweeping grasslands of the plains to fit the tune, this late spring snow called for a change of course.  Haunting and foretelling, this cold scene pairs with my favorite tune from the album, Ambrosia. 

Stillness above the Green River Overlook in the Canyonlands.

"Finding Silence"  Canyonlands National Park, UT
Kidkanevil - "Thousand Year Forest"

When you're in the car for hours and days on end, mental peace is tested.  When we reached The Canyonlands it was time for a mid day time out.  With expansive views and the calm of the desert wafting over us, it was the perfect moment for Erin to sneak in a short mediation.  Seeking out these places of overflowing energy has become key for us in order to focus, refresh, and recharge while on the road.  Kidkanevil's track "Thousand Year Forest" is the perfect accompaniment to a moment like this. 

The power of Monument Valley can't go unnoticed.

"Spirit Seeking"  Monument Valley, UT
Ayla Nereo - "Let It In" (AtYya Remix)

Monument Valley is a sacred place to the Navajo people so I approached this desert sanctuary with a similar predisposition.  I wanted to dig into something (musically) that was going to get those mystical and visionary thoughts going.  Having been deep into the work of AtYyA over the spring, I took the suggestion of my friend Ty of TPAT Photography and allowed his music offering "Let It In" to give me the creative jump I needed.  With the car stereo on and jamming, I stepped up to the barbwire boundary fence and framed up the iconic mesas of Monument Valley.  The moon had just risen and I only had a few minutes before it rose too high and it's light washed out the scene.  Like spirits rising, the mesa's silhouettes awakened from their slumber and revealed themselves against the remaining faint stars. 

Islands in Bryce Canyon.

"Mt. Carmel Cortex"  Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
MOVEMENT - "Like Lust"

With internet reception being so very fickle, I didn't get to the suggestion of Zach from Subpac until several days in.  While driving to Bryce Canyon we hit a brief stretch where I could fire up Soundcloud and finally listen to his highly anticipated selection.  As suspected, his pick of Modular People's "Like Lust" had us grooving.  Soon our signal faded and despite the brief round of listening, I knew Bryce Canyon was were I would be making the accompanying image.  Something about the track was screaming black and white to me.  Deep blacks and sparkling whites, only the essentials.  The hollow vocal sections full of reverb mimicked the deep and plunging valleys of Bryce Canyon's amphitheater.  Furthermore the canyon's structure felt as if I was peering down onto brain matter, a giant section of geological cerebral cortex.  As I move forward both in both my imagery and purpose, I hope to create more images like this. 

Whether in Utah or Arizona, Monument Valley has the vibes from both sides.

"Fringe Freedom"  Monument Valley, AZ
Noncoding - "Soul Soup Vol 1"

Hands up, fringe out, soul nourished.  That's how Noncoding's groovy R&B flavored mixtape "Soul Soup Vol 1" had us feeling.  Quickly a staple in our musical rotation (and possibly Erin's favorite jam) this mixtape served as a constant reminder of just how fun life is and what a good ride we were on.  As we departed Monument Valley and the desert monoliths began fading in the rearview, we had to call an audible.  Without hesitation I pulled a U-turn and we both jumped out of the car.  With desert winds howling, Erin gave the Navajo landmarks her best salute of joy and freedom.  Fringe on. 

Don't be afraid to dive into the patterns.

"Noir Connectors" Wolf Creek Pass, CO
Telefon Tel Aviv - "Fahrenheit Fair Enough"

The night I left LA I dug into my first musical recommendation coming from Aaron of Vervor Design.  Nearing midnight and deep in the Mojave, Telefon Tel Aviv's album "Fahrenheit Fair Enough" was sending my brain beautiful impressions of images that I could conjure up.  Perhaps it was the tinny speakers in my 96 Camry, but immediately I envisioned something black and white or monochromatic.  Despite being 14 years old, it was the first time I had heard this album.  Further embarrassed by this revelation, the lush soundscapes took me on a ride employing sound design reminiscent of my favorite producers currently making music.  Realizing this album was ahead of its time, I understood what a learning curve it must have been for people to appreciate this album nearly 15 years ago.  With these thoughts swirling, I wanted to create an image that mimicked my feelings created by these frequencies.  Something minimal, yet futuristic and complex I pondered.  Something that at first glace (and first listen) would be interpretive and challenging.  I wanted an image with subtle, yet bold nuances like I was experiencing in this album.  In the title track "Fahrenheit Fair Enough," intelligent yet foreign glitch sounds pave the way throughout the listening experience.  For me, the tall spruce trees standing dark and boldly offered the same anchoring feeling.  Their solitary presence serving as navigation beacons through a busy and dense scene.  Images like this are why I greatly enjoy the challenge of pairing music and photography.

Descend onto the gods and the sky will open. 

"Champagne Sky" Valley Of The Gods, UT
Snakehips - "Forever (PT. II)"

When I first heard Snakehips and the track "Forever (PT. II)" I immediately envisioned things being ever so bright and sparkly.  Listening to the track early in the trip really got these mental images swirling and I knew the accompanying image called for a banger of a sunset.  Unfortunately the first several days lacked exactly that, a fiery sunset.  On this day I had planned on arriving in Monument Valley for sunset, but driving a weighed down wagon through canyon roads proved to be taxing and slow going.  As we descended into The Valley Of the Gods, UT I realized we weren't going to make it to Monument Valley in time.  Furthermore the sky began opening up and I knew my only window of opportunity was nearing.  The other quality of this music selection I wanted to capture was celebration.  It really sounded like a genuine celebration to me and when we started to see the sky breaking open, it was a certainly a celebration.  I pulled over and reveled in the sight of our first REAL light show of the journey.  This one had all the bright, sparkly, and celebratory I was looking for.