Gift Guide: For the Music Lover, by Song Exploder

To help you celebrate the creative-minded people on your holiday list, we asked some of our favorite artists and curators to put together a gift guide of their favorite things they know, use, and love. For the musicians and music-lovers in your life, we reached out to Hrishikesh Hirway — musician, composer, and host of the popular podcast Song Exploderwhere he’s interviewed everyone from The Postal Service to Toro Y Moi to U2. Read on to learn more about Hrishikesh’s picks for this gift guide.


words by Hrishikesh Hirway of Song Exploder.

songexploder_circleportraitI make a podcast called Song Exploder, where musicians take apart a recording of theirs and tell the story of how it was made. Listeners get to hear the different instruments isolated, one by one, as the artists talk about the decisions and ideas that went into each piece. Besides making the podcast, I’ve released albums as The One AM Radio and as half of the band Moors, and I’ve scored some films. Basically, music is my life. So, for this music lovers’ gift guide, I’ve picked seven things that I love and use myself.



This book was a source of inspiration for Song Exploder. It’s a series of conversations between my favorite author, Michael Ondaatje, and Walter Murch, the genius film editor who is responsible for one of the best pieces of sound design in cinema history, in the film The Conversation. This isn’t a book about music, strictly speaking, though they talk do discuss music (including Murch’s own experimental compositions), along with film, prose, and poetry. It’s really about editing, in all its forms, and how it’s tied to the act of creation. It’s a fascinating and inspiring read. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve had to buy this book because I keep giving it as a present.

2. Sonos Play:1 Speaker

I have a few of these speakers, which let you stream music wirelessly. You can control each speaker separately so there’s different music in different rooms. I use two speakers as a stereo pair. You can start with one or two, and add more if and when you need them, and there are different sized speakers.


3. U-Turn Orbit turntable


I’m not someone who gets into debates about whether music sounds better on vinyl. For me, the format is just a really fun way to interact with the music I love. As music consumption gets easier and faster, it sometimes also feels more disposable. A record player is a great way is to stop the instinct to skip through, to click away, to multitask. Taking a slow sip. And this is the record player I have. It’s sleek and minimal, and comes in a few different colors.

Here’s a quick video I made as I put my turntable together.


4. Vinyl Me Please subscription

songexploder_vinylmepleaseThis is a service that sends you one record a month. They’re exclusive pressings of records, often on colored vinyl, with cool extras. They’ve got great taste, and while I love buying music on my own, it’s a little thrill getting the VMP record in the mail each month. The J Dilla limited-edition pressing that they did earlier this year was worth the subscription alone.

5. Ultimate Ears Custom In-Ear monitors

I don’t go anywhere without these. I play every show with my Ultimate Ears monitors; they’re custom-molded for the inside of your ears. But even outside of playing on stage, I use these when I mix and edit music or my podcast, so I can hear every single tiny detail in the audio. Mine even have the Song Exploder logo on them. There’s a version that starts at $399, which I’ve included here, but there are several grades above that, depending on how serious you are about taking your listening up to the next level.

6. Larsen & Lund Leather Earbud Case

LarsenAndLund-EarbudCaseIf you use earbuds like the ones that come with the iPhone, this little case protects them while keeping the cord from getting tangled. You wrap the cable around the case and there’s a little notch to keep the jack in place.

7. Classic Specs Amherst Sunglasses

songexploder_amherstI live in Los Angeles, so sunglasses are something I wear every day. I love the Amherst sunglasses because there’s some heft to the frame, and the shape is timeless, but has a few cool, distinctive details.


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