Many have commented on the “unusual” and “daring” music that’s often played at Alive Juice Bar. It’s eclectic, from bossa nova to gangsta rap, from No-Wave punk to bubble gum pop, from acid jazz to redneck rock. And it’s music from around the world. There are also a lot of songs about death, such as this one.
The music choices are deliberate, rarely random. They’re meant to communicate to customers an approach to life and a set of values. Sometimes they’re used to trigger childhood memories in customers, esp. those between 40-60, our core demographic audience, so their experience at Alive is memorable. The unfamiliar music reflects our goal, which is to introduce and make accessible to customers food they’re not familiar with. Music that’s “shocking” (offensive to some) or “unusual” is used to ensure that customers are *present* and engaged with the experience of being at Alive Juice Bar, and to help them become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Our music also lets customers know that they’ve entered an establishment that’s a critique of the safe and repetitive music often played in suburban establishments.
We also use the music to help set a work rhythm, to make sure everyone on the floor is following the same beat. Listen to the sound of work at Alive Juice Bar. It’s jarring when the sound and rhythm of work is off (listen to the sound of the blenders, the juicer, the shuffling of feet, the pouring of ice). When the sound of work is right, when everyone is in rhythm with each other, customers feel tranquil, at ease, even when it’s busy and noisy. Customers aren’t just paying for a product. They’re paying for a performance.
The wide range of music helps train our employees to become cosmopolitan cross-generational cultural omnivores so they can gain a wider perspective of and appreciation for the world. The music provides young and provincial employees an opportunity to better understand customers from other generations, nations, and socio-economic backgrounds. We typically add “offensive” music to each mix to make sure employees are *present* — that’s why you’ll see them running to change the music when a child or someone they think will be offended enters. We make sure employees senses are always turned on.
Some have noted that there’s a lot of contrast between one song and another. For instance, we’ll go from gangsta rap such as Tupac’s taunting, angry and expletive filled “Hit Em Up” to country pop such as Taylor Swift’s teenage love song “You Belong With Me.” The sharp contrasts, we hope, helps customers and employees remain *present* while at Alive Juice Bar and teach them how different contrasts produce different effects. (Understanding contrasts is key to making good meals).
The contrasts aren’t random. Each mix has a theme, a tendency. We have, for instance, the “suicide mix,” that includes music from The Sundays, The Smiths, Violent Femmes, Joy Division. There’s the “Suburban Redneck” mix, which includes music from Bon Jovi and Journey. There’s “Music for White people who hate being White,” “The Naughty Hipster,” “Pretentious,” “Angry,” whatever. Each mix includes easily recognizable mainstream songs (will typically follow obscure song), obscure songs, and indie/alternative songs that’ll be easily recognized by some, not others.
In any case, music is an important part of the performance. We use it to entrance, to manipulate, to punish, to calm, and so forth. We hope customers enjoy and learn from the music so they remember their experience at Alive Juice Bar as unique, challenging, and fun.