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Something in the Air

Architects of canned music tailor songs to suit the vibe, or to create one

December 18, 2005|Lynell George | Lynell George is a Times staff writer.

After more back and forth about the restaurant's existing sound system and compatibility, Wiesenthal shipped off the first iPod. "The playlist ranged from harsh electronic, including Aphex Twin, to lighter electronica by Ulrich Schnauss," she recalls. "We added in a mix of rock and indie pop from Bettie Serveert to Club 8 ... . It was just a really insane mix. Just too many genres."

As Tusquellas says, "It was too high-paced and it made people jittery during the dinner hour. It made the staff crabby. It worked better for 11 to 1 a.m. So I usually didn't turn it on until 10."

She shipped the mix back and voiced her concerns. "We needed more songs, more jazz. There wasn't enough Frank Sinatra." Wiesenthal went back to work. She loaded 350 tracks culled from their vast library. "At this point, I had had a really good, long meditation about the place. I thought about the architecture, menu location, the history of Silver Lake. The key for me was the storybook illustration [of the firehouse] from the menu. I had a 'Eureka!' moment. The Spanish tiles reminded me of lace trim [and it hit me] that there was something innately feminine about the Edendale Grill.

"The second playlist was definitely deeper and more soulful than the first. The music is organized into several playlists, and every playlist shuffles. Edendale can choose their playlists from the iPod to suit their mood."

Tusquellas was impressed. "Music is so important. It fills in the dead spaces." She still is collecting feedback from customers. "People are noticing the songs, the newness of the songs. They'll say, 'Oh, you're really current with your music' or 'That's something that I heard in a club in New York.' "

Wiesenthal says she's just hitting her stride. A face-to-face meeting with Tusquellas, who was in New York on business, offered more clarity. "She's a vibrant, energetic, sexy woman, so the music should reflect this," says Wiesenthal. "Edendale has a heady, delicious multilayered ambience. We're pulling soul, disco, soulful country and psychedelic rock for their next playlist, including artists Amos Lee and Bright Eyes. We want the music to really resonate within Edendale."

"It's like the dude in the beautiful car, but the music is horrible. You see him coming in this gorgeous Jag, but oh no! He's blasting this horrible trance!"

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