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Stories of Sound
and Sleep:

Midwinter Days

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

On Finding Meaning in Winter: There’s a lot to love about winter, if you’re looking for it.

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Waking up to the Power of Naps

  • Vanessa Kauffman Zimmerly

There are precious few things you can do in your life that will have a greater positive impact on your health, mood, and longevity on Earth than sleep—and not all of it has to happen at night. If your energy wanes and you find yourself dreaming of nodding off soon after lunch, rest assured. You’re not the only one with sleep on the brain.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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The Snooze Button is your Frenemy

  • Jamie Kripke

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 Kripke

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 Kripke

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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Product Before Price

  • Jamie Kripke

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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We’re Listening

There’s something special going on right now in North America at the intersection of interior design, mixology, and high-fidelity sound systems: the birth of the listening lounge. But, like most design objects or experiences, across the ocean in Japan these unique establishments have been around for awhile—for like, a century.

Kissa (or kissaten) means cafe, and there are all kinds of them across Japan; you can learn more about kissas generally in writer, photographer, and blogger Craig Mod’s book Kissa by Kissa, which follows Mod as he walks over 1,000 kilometers along the Nakasendō highway, stopping at kissas and eating pizza toast. The jazz kissa started in the 1920s due to Japan’s growing interest in Western ideas and culture, especially those expressed in music.

The jazz kissa is a specialty cafe, a place to sip coffee or cocktails while quietly listening to imported vinyl records on high-fidelity audio equipment—both scarce commodities that were too expensive for private ownership in midcentury Japan. Jazz kissas were likely one of the only places on the isolationist island nation you could hear these avant garde sounds; it was a pocket of modernity in an ancient country.

The first jazz kissa, Blackbird, was opened next to Tokyo University in 1929, and spun its wax on a RCA Victor “Electra.” During World War II, jazz kissas were closed in an attempt to eliminate American influence, but following the war and through the 1960s they proliferated.

“People can live so long as they have a place to eat and sleep,” reads the introduction to Gateway to Jazz Kissa, Vol 1. “But, after all, people need music too.”

There are currently only a handful of listening lounges in North America, and one of them happens to be in OneClock’s backyard. Folks who want to experience the newest iteration of the kissa lineage in the Denver area can visit ESP Hi-Fi, a listening bar named for Miles Davis’s 1965 album that was opened in September 2021 by co-owners Mitch Foster and Will Minter in the Santa Fe Arts District. Foster’s first listening lounge experience, which he describes in an article for 5280, was at In Sheep’s Clothing Hi-Fi, a Los Angeles outfit that now operates as an online record club with pop-up listening events.

Adding to the neighborhood’s established nexus of art and design, ESP invites guests into a warm, mellow, midcentury-inspired haven of libations and listening. They offer a curated selection of highballs, Japanese whiskeys, amaros, coffee, and tea, all to be savored to the soundtrack of the 500+ vinyl records heard from the cradling embrace of warm, teak furniture.

Listening lounges are expressions of an archive—a sonic portrait of its collector. At a listening lounge you’ll hear the inflections of the owner’s tastes across genres and historical periods, shuffled specifically for the ambiance of that day or hour. Unlike a musical performance given by a particular artist or ensemble, the listening lounge offers something that is highly-individualized, an expression that is unlikely to be replicated in the same way. The feeling is simultaneously casual, off-the-cuff, and singular.

In Japanese history, owners of jazz kissas are called “masters,” indicating their extensive knowledge of jazz. While ESP and other current day North America iterations—Public Records sound room in Brooklyn being another fave—spin dub, motown, fusion, synth pop, world, and ambient music alongside jazz, their proprietors are still masters of mood, often diving deep into the stacks to find what is right for their space and setting.

The customs for how a record is played in a kissa are specific, ritualistic. As Gateway to Jazz Kissa, Vol. 2 explains, at least one side of a record must be played in full before the set is switched, and each record cover must be displayed in a place visible to customers. Usually, the expectation of the customers is that they are quiet, speaking at low volumes when needed, but otherwise listening. “Jazz Kissas are considered ‘a place for seriously listening to jazz’ by both the people playing the records, and those listening to them.”

ESP is often but not always quiet. They host what they call Floating Hours every day from noon to 3pm, asking guests to engage in intentional listening. The music is played through the bar’s bespoke sound system that features two Garrard 401 turntables and vintage K-horn speakers. Like the music played, the sound system is another way twenty-first-century listening lounge and sound system proprietors seek to define themselves while upholding the historic kissa’s emphasis on clear, pure sound. At Public Records, with interiors by DSLV Studio, you’ll find the handcrafted speakers of Devon Turnbull, aka OJAS, who Surface Magazine calls a “fidelity genius.”

In an era of atomization that allows us to customize our cultural intake via highly individualized algorithms that we experience on tiny screens and discreet earbuds, going to a place like a listening lounge can feel a little bit thrilling—quiet, concentrated, and subdued as they may be.

We are often quiet together in public, but this kind of quiet has a communal element that can’t be summoned when we’re plugged into our own devices. Especially after three years of a global pandemic, gathering in groups to experience something in real-time feels new, special, maybe even a bit vulnerable. But music has always been powerful medicine. A shared world is built in the cocoon of the listening lounge—and it sure sounds good.

Hear OneClock’s kissa-inspired playlist made just for our readers, here.


Image from ESP Hifi.