5 Songs for Something Else: Diego Byrnes

When a musician plays, it can be difficult to discern the artist from the art. And it should. This may be stating the obvious, but (nearly) every stage performer is human. The artistic process behind the performance, however, is so often exotified. It's veiled behind the charisma and talent they put out during a show.  

5 Songs/Albums for Something Else begins to delve into how musicians listen to music and pick up inspiration when they’re doing, well, other stuff. What happens behind the scenes and how does hearing music play a role? What kind of music do these musicians listen to? How are their day-to-day lives impacted by the music of others?

We sat down with Diego Byrnes, singer and guitarist for the Ruckus Bros. and for his own band Diego, to talk about the music he likes to listen to as a part of his daily routine. Diego’s talent as an artist and performer shines through his characteristic song choices. Our conversation was a real treat and we’re happy to share what we’ve learned about him.

“Swan Lake Op. 20” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

When I’m driving…

I kind of just listen to the radio in my car, and all I have been doing is listening to classical music. I don’t have a CD player; I don’t have a hook-up for my iPod. So, in my car I would have WQED’s classical radio station on.

I don’t know anything about classical music. I’m trying to give myself a bit of an education in classical music. I found out that I really enjoy Tchaikovsky. I really enjoy the Polish Symphony, but I’ve actually gone to see Swan Lake. I would say that’s my favorite.

Thriller by Michael Jackson

When I’m exercising…

I tend to listen to Thriller a lot. I don’t really listen to just one song; I have to put the whole album. If I did pick one, it would be “Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’.”

I have two versions [of Thriller] on vinyl: one that I spin and one that every person in that Thriller band signed. I keep that as a momento.

Legend by Bob Marley and the Wailers

When I’m chillin’…

This is one vinyl that I spin every day. I put this album on to relax. Every song is great. “Stir it Up” might not be the most chill song on the record, but it’s got this get-up-on-your-feet beat I really enjoy.

“Dos Gardenias” by Buena Vista Social Club

When I’m cooking…

I love to cook. I’ve been working in restaurants for over a decade. My grandmother had [a restaurant] when I was growing up, and my mom is a great cook. So I cook all of the time.

When I’m cooking dinner, sometimes [my fianceé] Sarah and I sit down to eat for a date night with a nice bottle of wine. For these sort of cooking and chill nights, I’ll put on Buena Vista Social Club. We love that music.

“Dos Gardenias” is one of the few slow-dance songs on the record. [Buena Vista Social Club singer Ibrahim Ferrer] might be my favorite singer of all time. He’s such a crooner in this song - it’s awesome.

“Put Me Through” by Anderson .Paak

When I’m at my computer working

I’m a painter as well as a musician. So I’m on my computer a lot, just sending emails and stuff. You know, when I’m on the hustle.

I’ve been trying to school myself in hip-hop like I have been doing with classical music. I’ve been asking around a lot and getting recommendations. I’ve really been getting into Anderson .Paak lately. That Malibu record kind of blew me away. I love in the live videos when he gets on the drum-kit and plays behind the band. He’s definitely a musician. A real Prince vibe – he brings musicianship into his music.

To check out more music by Diego:

Diego - Website | Facebook | Soundcloud |