Blog
Stories of Sound
and Sleep:

Rewrap the Gift

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

Our holiday traditions around giving and receiving are due for a redux. Here are our tips.

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Sing to Me: The Power of the Human Voice

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

It’s time to warm up those vocal cords. How singing and being sung to have kept us surviving.

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Object Story: The Safety Razor

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

Why a 120-year-old razor is still the one you want to use.

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OneClock Reads: Super Normal

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

In Super Normal: Sensations of the Ordinary designers Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fakasawa draw our attention to the phenomenon of everyday objects.

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Meet the Team: Jamie Kripke's Studio of Life

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

Artist, cyclist, skier, and OneClock co-founder, Jamie Kripke brings the same curiosity and creative energy to everything he does.

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Meet the Team: Howie Rubin's Architecture of Experience

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

Experiential marketing aficionado Howie Rubin on music, design, clocks, and living life to its fullest by slowing down.

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OneClock / Wake Up Better

  • Jamie

No good clocks were harmed in the making of this film.

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Something About Nothing

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

Three books for resisting the attention economy and restoring a mindful life.

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In Your Dreams

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

Humans spend several years dreaming, yet this phenomenon remains mysterious in both purpose and meaning.

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Object Lessons

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

What the world of touch teaches and tells us.

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Get Up!

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

Tune your body and mind with some Valentine’s Day morning sex. Or, why we recommend getting down while waking up.

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Introducing...Captain Planet!

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

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OneClock Anthem Video

  • Jamie

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How Do You Sleep at Night?

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

Your chronotype determines when and how well you sleep, and much about how you feel while awake—but few people know what theirs is, or how to live in harmony with it.

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Jon Natchez on Writing Music for OneClock

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

Composer and musician Jon Natchez shares insights and inspirations for OneClock’s initial seven waking tracks.

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A New Way for the New Year

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

It’s that time again! The New Year invites us to set intentions for self-improvement and change. Here’s how you can best prepare for a successful refresh.

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A Guaranteed Audience of One

  • Jamie

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Buy Nothing, Sleep In / Thoughts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

As the Black Friday alarm rings at its early hour, we invite you to make a new ritual of sleeping in. And then, once you wake up? Go sit and have coffee with your mom, dad, kids, neighbor, or dog. Watch the sun travel across the kitchen window. Appreciate. Connect. Make it a thing.

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OneClock // 1 minute waking music samples

  • Jamie

Listen to 60 second samples of the 7 waking compositions that Jon Natchez created for OneClock.

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It’s About Time: The Magic of a Meaningful Morning

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

The quiet of morning is beloved by the creative mind. Find out how you can wake up gently, establish a daily ritual, and reclaim the magic of morning with the help of OneClock.

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Fitter, Happier, More Productive?

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

The near constant use of technology in contemporary life can be overwhelming, affecting our health and relationships. Use a less-is-more approach to find physical, mental, and emotional balance in a world dominated by devices.

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1000 True Fans

  • Jamie

Assorted feedback from the first few OneClock owners.

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Jon Natchez Launch Concert

  • Jamie

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Jon Natchez created some music to celebrate our 2/2 launch.

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Video: Behind the Music

  • Jamie

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Product before price

  • Jamie

We set out to make exactly what we wanted, not what the market wanted. The price is what it is because that’s where the price ended up once we'd designed the clock we wanted.

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The Snooze Button is your Frenemy

  • Jamie

If you find the idea of quitting the Snooze button intimidating, look at it this way: Snoozing does not equal sleeping. Snoozing is a sad, stressful imitation of real sleep.

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Scaring Yourself Awake

  • Jamie

From the adrenal gland’s point of view, there’s no difference between the shock of that blaring alarm and the sight of an incoming tsunami. And why would you want to start your day like that?

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A Brief History of Alarm Clocks

  • Jamie

It seems clear that the need for alarm clocks will never go away. But if the 1787 version of the U.S. Constitution can be amended 27 times, can’t we evolve our alarm clocks, too?

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Threat Vigilance, your Smartphone, and why you can’t sleep

  • Jamie

Many of us use our phones as our alarm clocks. It’s simple and easy and it works. But when you bring your smartphone to bed with you, you’re also bringing that fiendish little source of stress into your bedroom, too.

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Jon Natchez on Writing Music for OneClock

Flow + Function

“I pick up an instrument and plant a seed. If it doesn’t grow, I move on—pick up a different instrument, plant a different seed. I do this until one starts growing. Then I try to be present and follow the growth.”

Jon Natchez is talking about the method he used to compose OneClock’s seven unique waking tracks, but he’s also describing an improvisational approach that runs through his career as a Grammy award-winning musician.

Natchez grew up on the piano and saxophone, earned a degree from Harvard University in Cultural Studies, Music, & Performance, and is now an accomplished composer and multi-instrumentalist who records and performs with several bands (most regularly The War on Drugs) and composes film scores.

For Natchez, improvisation is more than a way to access a certain flow-state, though he thanks it for that too. It symbolizes a way of being in the world that resists control and invites chance.

Natchez came to compose for OneClock with curiosity about making “functional music,” or music that’s integrated into everyday experience. “Functional music is music with a purpose heard in daily life, rather than music that’s written to be listened to in some kind of sacred space, like a concert hall,” he explains.

Purposeful, yes, but not without experimentation. Functional music shares a lineage with avant-garde movements like musique concrète, electronic music, and ambient music, with Natchez noting how key figures like Erik Satie (who coined the term “furniture music” in the early 20th century) and Brian Eno (whose 1978 Ambient 1: Music for Airports was a genre-defining album) purposefully used convention to break from it.

Many of these artists, as well as Ivan Tcherepnin and Kurt Stallmann, whom Natchez studied with at Harvard, used stochastic (synonymous with random) processes, or what Eno called “Oblique Strategies, to guide the work. Think of using a set of cards or rolling the I Ching to prompt and question the creative process.

Satie and Eno weren’t writing clock tones, but there was a thread there—a loop between utility, improvisation, and expression—that intrigued Natchez.

On the Clock

In addition to working in a genre that resonated with his artistic inclinations, OneClock presented Natchez with one of his favorite challenges: creating within constraint.

The project came with a set science-based sonic strategy for its waking music: that it be gradual in volume and intensity, melodically driven, subtly randomized with each use, natural in tone, and broad in range of frequency. How that sounds, though? That was for him to play with.

“I loved and found the compositional challenge of it fascinating,” he shares. “How do you create a real and organic piece of music that at the same time follows very specific guidelines?”

This wasn’t the first time Natchez was working in response to a predetermined brief—composing film scores requires something similar, with sound working to mirror the emotional tenor of the scene. But this time, the scene was one Natchez knew well.

“I’m used to writing with particular goals in mind, but I’m not a method actor—I don’t try to be the characters in the films I’m scoring. But I’m familiar with waking up. I do that every day. So part of my creative process was to get myself into the frame of mind where you’re on the cusp of waking.”

Where Music Comes From

The cusp of waking and creative energy are often good bedfellows, as the brain tends to be both generative and uninhibited. Natchez found that even when he wasn’t composing in the morning he was able to simulate this space—and not only because he was the parent of a young child and, as he remarks, “hadn’t slept in years.”

“I used a series of improvisational exercises to get to a non-rational place where I’m not analyzing,” says Natchez. “For me, that’s where music comes from.”

Early in the process Natchez decided each track would feature only one instrument. The music was to have an elegant simplicity, and he knew hearing one instrument at a time would bring both depth and clarity to the user experience—the way rubbing a stone brings out its luster.

When it came time to select the instruments, he was looking for ones whose tones and timbres would be familiar and organic—the intimacy of the human voice, the breathiness of the clarinet—as well as able to carry a melodic and percussive cadence—the narrative flow of the piano, the upbeat inflection of the marimba. He brought in vocalist Dave Hartley of Nightlands (and Natchez’s bandmate from The War on Drugs) and guitarist Michael Bloch of Here We Go Magic as collaborators.

The final seven tracks are unique and diverse, but clearly belong to each other.

“I was surprised to see that the research indicated a need for strong melody,” Natchez shares. “I was expecting something more textural, these clouds of sound, but it was clear that we needed something propulsive, something to really push someone into wakefulness.”

Natchez’s OneClock compositions do push, but they also pull. In daily use, they reach the ear before the mind can really make sense of them. They enter as clouds before becoming fields—like the ground for the seed planting process Natchez was describing. Oblique, generative. The place of improvisation. The place of music. The place of waking.

Want to hear more?

OneClock founders Jamie Kripke and Howie Rubin chat with Jon Natchez on Instagram

Jon Natchez’s online OneClock launch concert