He said, “Yes.”
It’s a perfect beach day. The kind where a well anchored umbrella won’t sway in a rough wind, the kind where one wants to stay on the multitudinous grains of sand until daylight gives way to moonlight and the kind of day where all that would make the day supernaturally perfect is a mixtape of well curated songs, capsulizing emotion like only sound can.
With a breeze independent of the one flowing inside of the Manhattan Beach, Two Guns Espresso, in walks Clark Dinnison. The man, who until now has been my mythical musical curator of the weekly mixtape/blog Noon Pacific.
In some ways he’s everything I’ve imagined, tall, loose like hair, carefree and warm. We are already friends. We are! And, perhaps its because I’ve spent time with him through his music, used his ten song playlist as the sound frequency for my own writing and played his profile on 8tracks for hours on end. Its also an App.
The coffee that we order was determined prior to arriving in an email exchange. Its flat whites for two. Afterall, when at an Australian café, one must order a signature Australian drink. We sit and then it all begins with my questions spooling faster than he can answer, but he does.
CDE: Clark Dinnison, I have so many questions! How did you get here?
Narrator: Before he answers, a barista comes to the table and asks if they would like their coffee in ceramic. They both nod with an audible yes.
CD: A friend said, ‘Hey you should come to L.A. There’s lot of pretty girls out there, you can get out of Seattle and all the rain. I came in 2011, the day after I graduated. I was like, ‘I’m out, see ya.”
CDE: Was it that simple?
CD: I packed up my Subaru, a folded mattress and my clothes. When I got to L.A. I had some issues with my Craigslist rental so I was driving around for a couple of days. And, then I found a place in Hermosa Beach.
Narrator: Clark lives in Hermosa Beach until this day.
CDE: And, you’re here, near the beach, great weather – hardly any rain, lots of beautiful people, what were you doing for work.
CD: I was doing work with some tech web sites. I got a degree in Entrepreneurship and Business Administration. But, I wasn’t passionate about excel sheets and stuff. But, I wanted to help out at a company called Caplinked. So, I started working there at nights as intern and then it turned into my job.
CDE: So you asked for your own job.
Narrator: Dinnison moves forward in his Henley, side swoops the longer lengths of his hair and smiles.
CDE: Not bad for a gentleman degreed in entrepreneurship.
CD: Not at all! Working at a startup you get to wear a lot of different hats. The first two years was about trying out what works and what sticks. But, I like being hands on, it’s been a ride.
CDE: What’s a typical day like for you?
CD: I wake up early. I enjoy a work out around 8:30. I work all day until about 6:30 and then back to the gym.
CDE: Wait, where is this music?
CD: Oh, I put it on as soon as I wake up.
CDE: There we go; I knew it had to play into your day.
CD: Oh! So you want to know… like what I do.
CDE: Yes. Whatever you like to share.
CD: I have a wireless speaker in the living room. I put on my phone and get ready for the day. Music plays in the car, at work, at the gym, music is always going.
Narrator: Dinnison’s shoulders relax as if they were holding weight but now are given permission to ease up.
CDE: What exactly is your music “going on?”
CD: It could be Soundcloud. It could be Noon Pacific’s Spotify.
CDE: How did this time ‘Noon Pacific’ now known as an internationally weekly mixtape get started.
CN: It was really a Spotify playlist. It was cool, but I was looking for a side project. I feel like I’m an underachiever. There’s so much time to do and I need to be doing something. As I was thinking of creating it, it was a west coast vibe that I was in and the time was noon pacific.
So, I’m on my way home. When I get there, I have no T.V. and I’m thinking about what I should invent. And it popped into my head that I would send out ‘Noon Pacific’ to people in an email newsletter and send it every Monday at the same time.
CDE: And boom!
CD: Yep. At the same time I was teaching myself how to code. Check the site now and you should see a button next to the play button where you can see all the mixtapes now.
CDE: Awesome, I saw that this morning, but it wasn’t there before, I had to go to 8tracks to play previous ones.
CD: Yea, I just added it last night.
Narrator: He smirks.
CDE: So this whole project is all from scratch, and entirely you. I love it! I’m curious, what is your relationship to sound?
CD: Growing up my parents played a lot of music. I can remember The Beach Boys Christmas Album and playing it in the basement, my dad was a huge fan of the Beach Boys and Boston. I have two older brothers; we use to record music with tapes.
CDE: Oh.My.God. I remember that. And when you’d cut off some of the beginning of the song because you’re trying to catch it right after the DJ announced it?
Narrator: She and Clark laugh together. It looks like more musical bonding is occurring.
CD: I owe a lot of my taste to my brothers. They steered me away from the bad music. But making mixtapes was normal for me. I did it for friends so this [Noon Pacific] is natural progression.
CDE: When it comes to your mixtapes, and you hear a song, is there like an ‘Oh my god, yes’ reaction that lets you know this song needs to be included?
CD: Yes that happens. And when it’s an opening song for sure, I always say, ‘this is it.’
CN: You know I see colors when I hear music.
CDE: I do too! There are lots of blues and whites in my world.
CD: I think there’s a word for it.
CDE: Oh really, I want to find out. It’s interesting how having a word for something that you do can bring legitimacy.
Narrator: It’s called synesthesia and refers ones auditory and tactile sensations – one of the rarest forms of the neurological phenomenon.
CD: For sure. If I’m on my deck making a mixtape I feel different emotions, if it’s sunny and beach-y it will have that kind of vibe. If I’m making it at work, which can be a stale environment sometimes, so will be the mixtape.
CDE: Ah, the interesting play between space and sound. Is there an optimal space for you to create the movement of your sounds?
CD: Its fun being in different places.
CDE: I’m curious, there’s the injection of power from the likes of Bob Moses (Track 4, 088), Alice Russell (Track 2, 087) to Lemaitre which I caught in a previous mixtape before you added the track listing What were you feeling when you’re saying yes to these sounds?
CD: Bob Moses he’s just so powerful and soulful. Alice Russell, she’s groovy, her voice is old and new, it has nostalgia.
Narrator: Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’ begins to play in the coffee shop.
CN: I’m always trying to find an experience versus a mixtape. So, I need the intro to be cool.
CDE: Like the recent one – Noon 087} where there’s talking to start the listener off.
CN: Yea, about the dance clubs?
CDE: Yes. Do you feel like you’re the narrator of a story through all of this?
CN: Yes I do. That’s why I like 8tracks. I put ten songs on it and you can only skip 3, so it’s like a book and you have to read it from beginning to end.
CDE: Indeed! When does it all come together for you?
CD: I’m curating from 30-40 blogs and I follow a ton of people on SoundCloud. Sometimes I feel like I can’t find any music. And then I sit down and force it. But most time its listening to music throughout the week and then on Sunday night I put it all together.
CN: Its like your Sunday Night Live, when all your characters come out.
CDE: So a few quick questions I have for you.
CDE: Whose one artist you can play over and over?
CD: Sam Smith.
CDE: What does music do for you?
CD: Noon Pacific has opened up a ton of opportunities in business and in relationships with others. People like you email me and people can buy the app and hear the music all over the world, that’s what so great – music is so universal.
CDE: Just like the coffee shop. I love it! Have you thought about the relationship of music to coffee culture?
CD: They play together and work really well together, it’s a community and it’s synonymous.
CDE: Does coffee play a role in your life?
CN: It does. But, I’m more a tea fan, like chai tea. But, a good cup of coffee is like a good song.
CDE: Whom should I check out?
CN: David Gray. He’s amazing, I saw him at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. I mean, where else can you find 5,000 people in silence. That’s what he does.
CDE: Does Noon Pacific ever have hiccups?
CD: Yes, one time I couldn’t get to a computer.
Narrator: He laughs.
CDE: How many times do you listen to your mixtape before publishing it?
CD: At least once, all the way through. And, each song at least ten times all the way through.
CDE: What happens with you when you hear good music.
CD: I get goose bumps.
CDE: Me too, me too!
CN: My heart beats really fast, its weird, there is a whole moving thing happening inside of me…it’s my high.
CDE: What’s fun for you?
CD: Helping artists spread the word about their music.
CDE: First album you remember?
CD: The Beach Boys Christmas Album
CDE: If you could have one thing for lunch everyday.
CD: A double chicken patty from Chicken-N-More in Spokane.
CDE: If one person is playing an acoustic set at your house who is it?
CD: Good question! Neil Young.
CDE: Great answer!
CDE: What are you reading right now?
CD: A couple of things. A book on real estate – buying and flipping houses – and one on entrepreneurship, all business stuff. I’m not really into fiction.
CDE: What don’t we know about you?
Narrator: He smiles.
CD: I love nature and the outdoors.
CDE: No, I think we can deduce that. Something else.
CD: Oh, I have a love-hate relationship with technology.
CDE: But, Noon Pacific is built upon it.
CD: Exactly, I would prefer to live in a digital detox.
CDE: What inspires you?
CD: My brothers, water, beaches, lake, design and nature.
CDE: What’s your best feeling?
CD: The Beach-Ocean Beach, to be specific and staying home.
CDE: What’s your happiest feeling?
CD: Good music, weather, good friends, and family.
CDE: I see blue. It sounds like we’re back to your roots.