As I’ve been looking forward to the release of my debut album Nightflowers which is due out this Friday, May 1st, I’ve been taking some time to reflect on my influences and how I got to this point, and I thought I might share some of those with you all. It’s hard to boil down the whole of all your influences into an easily digestible list, but below are some of most influential pieces of music (songs or albums) that have shaped my musical style.
Come As You Are – Nirvana
This is one of my all-time favorite songs, if not THE favorite. I have listened to this song probably at least 1000 times, and it still gives me chills. The opening riff is incredible, obviously, but the thing that keeps me coming back for more is Nirvana’s ability to create a sonic environment, which they do beautifully with this song. Everything feels underwater, and the overall dark vibe really speaks to me. Kurt Cobain rightfully always stole the headlines, but Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl really shine on this song to create a truly cohesive track. I will always be in the mood to jam out to this song.
White Room – Cream
Eric Clapton is my favorite of all the guitar heroes, and while most know him from his solo career, I personally feel that his best work was with Cream. There are a ton of great Cream songs, Sunshine of Your Love, Badge, Crossroads, but White Room stands out to me to as a perfect example of how Clapton made his guitar talk. The lead guitar in this song engages in a sort of call and response with the lead vocal, and it really showed how a lead guitar and lead vocal can be intertwined throughout a song. And just for good measure, there’s a show stopping guitar solo for the outro showing off all the capabilities of a wah pedal.
Settle – Disclosure
While Deadmau5 and Kaskade may have been the first artists that got me into electronic music, Disclosure was the act that made me fall in love with it. I first heard about them when one of their first releases “What’s in Your Head” came out on Beatport, and I had never listened to anything like it. The percussion, the bass, the 7th chord synths, the beats that are just off beat, and the ability to create something with so much space and sonic real estate while still sounding great on the club floor. Then they repeated that achievement 14 times over when their debut album, Settle, came out. There are some truly great songs on here, When A Fire Starts to Burn, F for You, You & Me, Latch, White Noise, and January; and perhaps a tell-tale sign of great songwriting, this album spawned some all-time great remixes by TEED, Baauer, and of course, Flume.
All Day – Girl Talk
This might be the most impressive hour + of music I have ever some across. In this pop/hip hop infused mashup album, Girl Talk takes hundreds of samples, beats, and acapellas, and transforms them into something completely new and original. Better yet, All Day almost seems like this is how some of these snippets were meant to be heard, like the original recording artist knew someone would use the sample in this way. I can’t listen to I Ran by Flock of Seagulls without instinctively waiting for the Drake rap verse to come over the top. It’s honestly a tremendous feat of creativity and technical know-how, and I believe it shows how sampling can be a form of originality in of itself.
The Less I Know the Better – Tame Impala
I can honestly say this is the song that inspired me to go ahead and make Nightflowers. This is a truly great song; the otherworldly bassline, the dreamy synths, the perfectly mixed guitars, the vocal treatment, all of it. There is something new with every listen, and it just sounds incredible. All of this of course is more impressive when you find out that one guy did all of it. Kevin Parker is clearly a genius, and this was a guy who had a vision for what he wanted his music to sound like and he went out and did it. The Less I Know the Better is a super intimidating standard to compare yourself to, but he wasn’t born being able to make this song, he worked up to it. And while I never may be able to create something as incredible as this song, I’m really looking forward to getting better and trying.
Turn On the Bright Lights – Interpol
Interpol might be the most cohesive band I’ve ever heard. They have an impeccable balance between the two guitars, the bass, drums and vocals. Every instrument is playing exactly what the song needs and nothing more, nothing less. It’s truly incredible that 4 people could have such a clear shared focus of what the songs should sound like, all while having all of the individual parts so clear in the mix. Their debut record in particular showcases this, in my opinion, and sets the tone for their career with a unique sound. Obstacle 1 and PDA are some of my all-time favorite songs, but Say Hello to the Angles, Obstacle 2, and Hands Away are always worth a listen too.
AM – Arctic Monkeys, Brothers – The Black Keys, 18 Months – Calvin Harris, Technologic – Daft Punk, I Remember – Deadmau5 & Kaskade, Dreams – Fleetwood Mac, Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand, Audio Appropriation – Kap Slap, Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon, Led Zeppelin IV – Led Zeppelin, I Need You – Octo Octa, Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd, Worlds – Porter Robinson, Era Vulgaris – Queens of the Stone Age, Like an Animal – Rufus Du Sol, So High (Hot Since 82 Remix) – Shadow Child, New Slang – The Shins, What You Know – Two Door Cinema Club, Awake – Tycho, Monte Carlo – US Royalty, Dance Floor Filth – 3LAU