For this month’s Analyst Spotlight, we spoke to one of the “originals”: Senior Analyst Michelle Alexander, who has been listening and analyzing music at Pandora since 2000 when the Music Genome Project was first getting started. She’s fluent in nearly all the genomes Pandora has created, which are categorized by genre, with her specialties being Pop and Classical.
A singer and keyboardist who performs under the name LikeLove, Michelle’s music background began with a vigorous classical training in piano and composition, followed by jazz studies at the New England Conservatory. She then jumped into the indie rock world playing keyboards for Smog. One of the many bands she’s played with recently was a 12-piece experimental jazz ensemble called Kaijuscope. But the accomplishment she’s most proud of right now is her new EP, ‘Talking To Everyone.’, which was released earlier this year.
Check out some of the highlights from my conversation with Michelle:
What did you love most about Pandora when you started back in 2000?
I loved the people – in the beginning it was just this crazy band of characters doing a weird dot com job. Then it just kept growing and growing and I still get to work with a cool hodgepodge of creative types. I love them.
How does being a Music Analyst affect how you listen to music outside the job?
I think it makes me really value originality. Because I’m exposed to such a huge amount of music, I’m much more aware of when I hear something that I find unique or fresh.
What is your favorite tour experience?
I got my start in keyboard when I toured with Smog. – they were kind of indie rock darlings at the time and we toured all over Western Europe. It was a good tour!
I know you have worked on many different projects. What has been your favorite?
It has to be when I released the EP last March for my band LikeLove. This was the first time I got to be a band-leader and do my own stuff. For the launch party, I farmed out the keyboards to a friend and just did the singing. It was a dream-come-true.
Have you listened to yourself on Pandora?
I have. My stations are all over the map because the music is so eclectic. I’m not sure what to make of them yet, but they’ve definitely helped me discover some good new bands I’d never heard before.
What is your favorite outfit to wear while performing?
A hot pink, disco-style onesie. After I wore it once it made me want to buy one in every color.
What was the last song you listened to?
– Laura (Communications)