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Quarantine Eternal: A Playlist by Andrew Gallo

I feel restless in my search for the right music for the right moment, Andrew Gallo says. Gallo is a director turned creative producer working on projects for a range of clients from Nike to Levi’s to Kinfolk magazine. He talks to me on the phone from his Laurel Canyon home in LA where he lives with his wife Carissa, a director and photographer, and their three children.

When Gallo was four, his grandfather taught him to play piano, instilling a love for the instrument in him as a kid. He would write songs and shoot video as a child, taking inspiration from music and finding ideas within sound. As an adult, music still plays an integral role in his work: with just video, often we don’t feel anything beyond what we’re seeing, but with music there’s a guiding emotion that can dive below the visual surface, Gallo says.

Gallo’s grandfather and grandmother passed away during the coronavirus pandemic. As Gallo began creating this playlist, he included several songs he wrote while processing the grief and passing of his grandparents. This playlist isn’t necessarily what I’m listening to right now, Gallo says, it’s the music that feels right, right now. 

Gallo accompanied this collection of songs he titled “Quarantine Eternal” with a photograph of himself and brothers with his grandfather. He created this playlist to take the listener on a journey that captures the different phases of quarantine. Gallo tells me that the playlist is meant to loop seamlessly so that it feels infinite–you start in one place and end somewhere similar to where you began.

Gallo is sitting outside his home under enormous eucalyptus trees and staring across Laurel Canyon at the Mount Olympus neighbourhood in the distance.

I’m always listening to music, always, always, he says. He describes his way of working with the artists he listens to throughout his day. Anenon and Julianna Barwick are reserved for the sacred hours of his morning. He turns to Nicolas Jaar, Vazz, and John Maus when it’s time to pick up the pace or Aphex Twin for any step of the journey.

“With just video, often we don’t feel anything beyond what we’re seeing, but with music there’s a guiding emotion that can dive below the visual surface.”

The connection between music and film has always been critical to Gallo’s work. He describes numerous playlists and notebooks of songs or albums he’s heard–music that he goes over and over wondering what will this work with? What idea will this bring forth? Sometimes Gallo will have 30 or 40 tracks he’s considering for a video and it never sounds right. “And then you’ll hear a song when you’re cooking or driving,” Gallo says. “You’ve stored this thing you’re working on, and then you hear the right track, and then you know.”