The Recommender: Tyler Gray, Editorial Director, Sound Obsessive, Former Doom Metal Band Bassist, And Shark Attack Survivor

He also wrote a book about boy bands–and the felon who created them. And he’s very tall.

The Recommender: Tyler Gray, Editorial Director, Sound Obsessive, Former Doom Metal Band Bassist, And Shark Attack Survivor
[Image: Flickr user Ralf Nolte]

Name: Tyler Gray
Role at Fast Company: Editorial Director.
Titillating facts: He’s finishing up a book about the hidden power of sound with Joel Beckerman of Man Made Music (he wrote about him before partnering with him) for publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It’s due to arrive on shelves in the fall of 2014. Just about everything he reads or does right now, apart from Fast Company (and sometimes for Fast Company), has to do with sound. He wrote a book about boy bands and the felon who created them. He once toured as a bass player in a doom metal band called Bloodlet. While surfing in Florida, where he grew up, he was bitten by a shark (in the water, not during a Sharknado) but suffered no permanent damage. He’s a quarter-mile run away from his NHRA drag-racing license.


What he’s loving:

JBL’s Synchros S700 headphones. They’re huge. They’re heavy. They’re durable. And they can handle Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” Big Boi’s “General Patton,” and Fuzz’s “What’s In My Head” with astonishing clarity. They have this technology called LiveStage, which the company’s resident scientist Dr. Sean Olive describes as an attempt to take the sound out of your head and make it seem as if it’s coming from a perfectly aligned speaker array in a room. That’s pretty much how they feel. So far, I haven’t even been able to break them.

I love the intersection where culture (particularly music) and business meet. That’s exactly the territory journalist Josh Eells owned recently. “Night Club Royale” is his remarkably deep look at the dance music economy in Las Vegas that’s beginning to rival the gambling economy in some venues. I have a few friends who are steeped in NYC nightclub culture and history, and they had a beef with Eells’s focus on the new-school performers. They wanted more homage paid to forebears of electronic music. But I know Eells spent the better part of a year researching this one. His audit of Sin City’s disco-industrial complex featured DJs such as Skrillex, who earns $250,000 a show, but also several other similarly paid knob twisters whose names you might never have known (even if you’ve actually been to one of their parties in Vegas). Of all people,, who DJs at Wynn hotels there, comes off as sage, saying they shouldn’t even call what he and others do at Vegas parties “dance music” but rather “look-at-the-d.j.-and-get-drunk music.” Truth from the mouth of a Pea. You can just feel the fact-checking that went into this one–signified by parenthetical asides that let the reporting pass legal muster while navigating obfuscations by Vegas bigwigs who don’t want their gross receipts made public.

I just finished The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism, by Naoki Higashida, co-translated by David Mitchell (who wrote the introduction) and his wife, KA Yoshida. What’s most remarkable about this book is that Naoki is not only incredibly self-actualized but that he also understands how others see him. He’s astonishingly adept at the very things he’s supposed to struggle with. It’ll change the way you think about people with autism.

The Weeknd at Radio City Music Hall, 10/08/2013Photo by Joel Arbaje

The Weeknd’s new album “Kiss Land” is a remarkable snapshot of a moment when a megatalented kid who spent 21 years in his Scarborough and Toronto, Ontario bedrooms finally ventured out, landed a number one album, and found himself loved and adored by hip-hop luminaries, emo boys, and many, many women. He played Radio City Music Hall this week in Nwe York City and signed autographs for about two hours after the show–well past midnight. He never stopped smiling. Fast Company‘s Joel Arbaje took amazing pictures of the show. You can catch a preview of the photos here.

Finally, one from left-field (kind of). Maureen Dowd profiled Robert Redford for the New York Times‘s upcoming Sunday Arts & Leisure section. Clearly she spent a lot of time with him, and he’s remarkably frank. Redford hasn’t had work done (the pictures are proof), and he doesn’t dye his hair, FYI.

About the author

Jessica Hullinger is a London-based journalist who covers science, health, and innovation. She currently serves as a Senior Editor at