Jason Koenig has been busy directing music videos for Ed Sheeran, and his friends Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, for which he’s received a Grammy nod and several VMAs. Koenig lives in a quaint craftsman in his hometown of Seattle with his wife, Jenny, and cat, Oliver.

Jason Koenig started out his career as a photographer.

You were a professional photographer for ten years before you started working in video. When did you first pick up a camera?
In high school, I found the math of photography really difficult to get my head around-apertures and shutter speeds and how it all plays together. But after I blew my arm out pitching baseball as a senior, I started shooting my friends playing sports. That’s when it clicked in my head and I actually got decent at it.

How did that eventually translate into music videos?
My wife’s best friend asked me to befriend her little brother, a guy named Ryan Lewis, who went on to work with Macklemore. I wanted to score points with my then-girlfriend, now-wife. Ryan wanted to shoot all the indie hip hop artists in Seattle, so I helped him get a business license and reach out to the artists. Eventually he said, “Hey, I’m starting a band. Can you do a photoshoot for our album cover?” After him and Macklemore blew up on the local scene, they wanted to be more hands-on with the video stuff, so they asked me to help. The first videos were super low-budget but did really, really well on an indie scale and became their first hits.

How does working in music determine how you experience listening at home?
The weird life of a music video director means that I have to immerse myself in a song and listen to it on repeat for days, no matter what I’m doing. With Sonos, if I’m sitting in the living room, I can turn it on. If I go make food in the kitchen, I can turn it on. If I take a shower, I can turn it on. For a long time I just had my phone speaker, or was listening through my laptop, and if you’re listening through crappy speakers, you miss the details.

How does music itself inspire you?
Music is such a fun catalyst of creativity. You get a feeling when you’re listening to a song, and it’ll be the inspiration for a whole music video, but you have to be immersed in the sound.
Having a great sound system is essential for figuring out what’s actually there to build off of. For example, there was a Macklemore music video we did this summer called “Marmalade” and really subtly in the background you can hear a boys’ choir singing the hook. We ended up making the video with kid versions of Macklemore and Lil’ Yachty based on that detail.

What do you listen to when you’re not working?
I’m a Seattle kid, so the greatest hits of ’90s alternative music are still my favorite. A lot of times we’re so sick of a song by the time we get to the editing process, we’ll pick completely different music to listen to while we work. This year it’s been Childish Gambino and Chance the Rapper. Sometimes a particular vibe doesn’t exist within the song that we’re working on, but we want the video to feel like that. If you need something to be more fun, you bump something really fun as you’re cutting, and it’ll play a role.

Do you and your wife listen to music differently around the house?
She’s got much better taste in music than I do. It’s very nice to be able to play different things in different rooms-though sometimes we get in a battle on the app where I’m trying to play something and she’ll just override it. Today, I was jetlagged and woke up at four in the morning. I went to the bathroom and all of a sudden the Sonos started playing “I Want It That Way.” She was just screwing with me because I woke her up.

Is there anything you listen to that helps you take a break from your work?
I like podcasts and audiobooks. When we set up our home system, that was actually my favorite part of Sonos. I went into the app and I was like, “I can listen to the radio? I can listen to the Mariners game?” That’s really cool to me because a lot of times I’ll be editing and I can’t watch something because I’m scrubbing through footage or I’m writing, but you can put it in the background. The integration’s cool because when you’re constantly trying to generate content you get so exhausted. When we’re in Seattle we want to be home with our cat. We exist in our own little worlds and the music can make the whole house fuse together and feel connected.

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