Music shapes our identities and changes our lives. It brings back our memories and stirs up our emotions. My Song Stories asks music professionals and indie artists questions about the songs in their libraries. Today, Brian Popowitz, the General Manager of Black Box, a music marketing agency, shares the artists and songs that have impacted his life and career.
By Kyle Bylin, author of Song Stories
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Brian Popowitz and I'm the General Manager of Black Box, a modern music marketing agency. My background is at record labels, whom I served for over 10 years prior to Black Box. I'm also a dad to one, husband to one, and dog owner to one. I really like coffee.
What song have you most recently played non-stop or on repeat?
“Changed” – JP Saxe. The song isn't out yet. It's from a new artist that my team at Black Box recently started working on. It's so simple and beautiful. I can't wait for people to hear it.
What song most compels you to sing along when it plays?
“Shimmy Shimmy Ya” by Ol Dirty Bastard. I recently sang this song spontaneously at a friend's wedding. It was the alcohol.
What song do you play when you need to feel motivated or inspired?
The entire My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album by Kanye West. Every time I listen, I find something new baked in the album that inspires me.
What song are you most embarrassed to admit that you enjoy?
Maybe it's a cop out, but I'm really not embarrassed by anything I'm listening to. I think music that's historically embarrassing like Top 40 is just so good and interesting right now that it's hard to feel embarrassed by liking it.
What song in your library has developed a personal or deeper meaning?
"I Will Follow You Into The Dark" by Death Cab For Cutie. My wife used to sing this song to my son every night to put him to sleep. And even though the lyrics are a bit morbid and somber, it has a really beautiful connotation for me.
What five artists most influenced you when you were a teenager?
1) The Notorious B.I.G.
2) Snoop Dogg
3) Dr. Dre
5) Good Charlotte
What were your favorite activities or hobbies in high school?
I grew up in the suburbs right outside of Washington, DC. I played a lot of sports with my friends, saw a concert just about every week, and DJed. That was my extracurricular life.
What five artists best represent your favorite music today?
In this post-album playlist world, my music taste today looks a little something like this: Lush Vibes playlist + Kanye West + El Rego + Mellow Bars playlist + Woody Allen movie soundtracks. Yeah, I think that's me right now.
What is your most prized music possession or memorabilia?
I'm not a collector. I don't have vinyl crates in my house or platinum albums on my wall. I don't like most things. I have hundreds of CDs, band shirts, posters, and ticket stubs that sit at my parent's house in storage (thanks, mom and dad). But in my house, that prized possession is Sonos and a subscription to Spotify. Funny how the new music economy is so much less about the tangible memorabilia and so much more about technology and experiences.
How would you describe music's role or importance in your life?
I have many different relationships with music in my life.
At work, sometimes it's very analytical and insensitive. I'm sometimes experiencing music as a tool to orient a strategy for my clients.
With my infant, music becomes my co-parent to distract, entertain, and teach. With my wife, it’s a source of entertainment to bond over or set a mood.
It does different things for me when I'm thinking, working out, or driving. It serves a scene in a movie or a feeling in a store. Its role is omnipresent and its importance can't be defined.
Kyle Bylin is the author of Song Stories: Music That Shaped Our Identities and Changed Our Lives, a collection of essays about songs that impacted people's lives. Read an excerpt here.