MJ Jackson

Creative Director

MJ is co-founder of Conductor, a studio that specialises in strategy, design and content for brands in the cycling industry. He brings a love of puns, a penchant for re-living his early career as an illustrator and a habit of critiquing all kerning to the studio.

What role does music play in your day-to-day life as a creative?

Music has been unbiquitous in my life — my young parents filled our early years with records when they couldn’t afford a telly (German telly would have been wasted on me anyway). I still remember the Motown and Stax LP covers, those and the famous Blue Note sleeves were probably my first introduction to design and typography and have remained one of my foremost influences. When I ran a music venue in Oxford in the early 90s I would spend every lunchtime creating posters to promote the bands. Those posters got me my first decent design job when my ‘proper portfolio’ was bobbins. Ten years ago I created Shed Pop Records which, poetically, was popular (only) in Germany (and Japan).

I couldn’t imagine working in a studio without music, I have never worked in a successful agency that preferred silence. There has to be some form of democracy to a studio soundtrack which creates distinct personalities within agencies. In the Conductor studio theres plenty of common ground but Jon leans heavily towards Balearic background noise whereas I favour 60s psych. Our current joint favourite is Khruangbin which seems to be on a lot. As I live in Sussex and Conductor is based in London I sometimes work from my wife’s studio where my jazz choices are totally banned and folk gets dialled up.

Music doesn’t create ideas in me but it soothes the process, acting as a lubricant to the workings of the mind. Certain types of music seem to be more appropriate for different disciplines. Instrumental jazz for copywriting, something uptempo for identity design and something to singalong when you’re tired. Phil Collins / Philip Bailey for Fridays.

Tell us about your playlist.

The playlist is a whirlwind tour of my tastes, designed to see you through the first hour of the day. The Monroe opener reminds me to always aim for same levels of style as Mr Beckerman in the Italian job. I believe that wit is vital to good design, so the Bonzos, Scaffold and Jimmy Campbell’s wordplay form the bulk of the first half. From here on in it’s all about keeping the rhythm going, with some awkward energy from Silver Apples and Bill Ryder-Jones prefacing the back section of dancing, and relaxed grooves. By now you’ve cracked a brand positioning job, won some new business and put the kettle on.

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Landschaft Kleidung

  1. On Days Like These – Matt Monroe
  2. Lonesome Polecat – Bobby Darin & Johnny Mercer
  3. Hunting Tigers Out In India – Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band
  4. Double Decker Eyelashes – Cornershop
  5. Am I Wasting My Time – Georgie Fame
  6. Do You Remember – The Scaffold
  7. Painting A Sign – Jimmy Campbell
  8. El Rey Y Yo – Los Angeles Negros
  9. Hitch Hike – The Beatles / Marvin Gaye
  10. These Eyes – The Guess Who
  11. Listening Man – The Bees
  12. Oscillations – Silver Apples
  13. Asa Dam Aya (Part 2) – Bill Ryder-Jones
  14. Stay – Boyan Chowdhury
  15. Nice – Bridget St John
  16. A Taste Of Honey – The Four Tops & The Supremes
  17. People Everywhere – Khruangbin
  18. Youniverse – Dumbo Gets Mad
  19. Baby – Donnie & Joe Emerson
  20. Heartache – Sixteen Tonnes