05 February 2016 Influences; Inspirators

As an artist, musician, performer, songstress I’m often asked “who are your influences?”

It’s tricky in a soundbite obsessed era to wrap these into a quick, neat, little package.

Every single piece of music I’ve ever heard and loved, each artist I’ve watched, whose music or songs or lyrics spoke to me, evoked feelings, memories, vivid landscapes, opened, devoured or moved me, in some way, ARE my influences.

I’ve a long list of artists, songs, music, soundscapes, riffs, production, art, writers, bands, musicians, singers, songwriters that have inspired me. None of these and some of these may channel through when creating, singing, playing, writing songs and music.

My ‘sound’ is betwixt Alternative, Indie, Grit-balladry, Electro Acoustic, Electronic, folk-punk, Garage, Blues, Rock.

Now I’ve cleared THAT up. The unwieldy, wordy, by no means exhaustive, version changeable on a day, in a month or year, without notice is as follows.

Inspirations, influences or affinities…

Old blues of any kind. FEELING. The heart-rending, origins and authenticity of the blues and early artists like Howlin’ Wolf, Bessie Smith, Huddie Ledbetter, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Nina Simone, Son House, and so on. Any song with raw, emotional, impact and honest punch.

The 60’s, the 70’s. Swing, traditional jazz my dad’s collection from Art Blakey to early Elton John, Joe Cocker and ELO, the well-crafted tuneful songs of the Eagles, the gritty Animals, Credence Clearwater Revival, Cleo Laine, Crosby Stills Nash, Don McClean, Neil Diamond. To classical Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky etc. My sister’s record collection, Deep Purple, Cream, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Crosby Stills Nash and Captain Beefheart.

Generally, dirty guitar riffs, good hooks and catchy tunes with substance.

Earliest guitar riff memory, ‘Cocaine’ by JJ Cale. 

The Cure – ‘Head on The Door’ delicately dark, beautifully evocative and playful. The bare, intensity of the Violent Femmes. The dispossession of grunge. Growing up with AC/DC, the garage rock, politics and frenetic energy of early Midnight Oil – Head Injuries to 10-1. The searing rage & skilful musicianship of Rage AgainstThe Machine. Nirvana. The Screaming Headless Torsos.

The Avant-garde of early INXS. The quirky individuality of Kate Bush, Bowie, Prince and Iggy. The rich perfection of Rachelle Ferrell’s vocal dexterity. Dave Grohl’s monster drumming. Carole King emoting the melody, Tapestry. Cat Steven’s soulful depth and observations, painting the story with sound, Tea for the Tillerman. Nick Drake’s River Man. Tim Buckley.  The quirky, comedic funk of Eskimo Disco. Ry Cooder, Boards of Canada. The mad genius of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Jeff Buckley’s bittersweet songs, Bjork’s fierce, immense, heart-full ones and production capturing the wild landscape of her homeland. Sound portraits. Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band, Magical Mystery tour, Abbey Road, a vintage circus of sound.

Ida Kelarova’s heart-wrench, Janis Joplin’s gut wrench, the electrifying voodoo magic of Jimi Hendrix. Early blues infused Rolling Stones.

Sarah McLaughlin’s piano, pristine musicianship and songwriting. Grand Pianos, Hammond organs and vintage sound-gear. Jolie Holland. The Police. The musical brilliance of Sting’s Bring on the Night. The wild, experimental wall of sound that is the Dirty Three – Warren Ellis’s beard and leg kicking violin extravaganzas, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey’s 16 track demos, Is this Desire, Stories/City/Sea. Morphine – stripped, sexy, atmospheric. Lamb, Portishead, Massive Attack, Goldfrapp’s Felt Mountain beautifully crafted songs fusing classical, electronica, jazz and vintage fx. Joan as a Policewoman beautifully melodic and captivating, Joni Mitchell’s insight, observations & beauty of Blue. M Ward. C W Stoneking. Tom Waits. Old trad jazz and Miles Davis to New Orleans funereal, muted trumpets, brass, trombones. Upbeat party music to laments. Radiohead’s musical genius, textured, ethereal & haunting vocals and lyrics, Patti Smith’s poetic rock and fierce reverence of authenticity, creative expression and beauty, and her invocation to rise out of bland-dom to be all that it means to be alive..

Ben Harper’s rockin’ soulfulness …, Neil Young’s soundtrack to Dead Man. Amanda Fucking Palmer’s multi-faceted creativity, nerve and self-belief.  The untamed, eclectic style of gipsy, Celtic, folk from the North to Eastern Europe, the Middle East to Spain. The sultry Kim Lone, the raw darkness of Diamanda Galas. The eclectic. Django Rheinhardt, French jazz & chanson.  Fela Kuti. Seun Kuti, The silky, dulcet tones and word play of Jill Scott. The Once Upon a Time in the West soundtrack. Ennio Moriconne’s spaghetti western soundscapes. Tremolo, slide guitar.

World music. The Instanbul Oriental Orchestra, Tuareg desert blues, Geoffrey Oryema. Feist. Sia Suhler’s songwriting. Claire and The Reasons. Lamb. Blondie & Bat for Lashes – Glass-like lyrical, melodic. En Vogue’s sassy songs & harmony.  4-Hero’s electronica & strings. The phat blues funk of Z-Star. Zero 7’s crafted blend of acoustic, electric, electronic. Air. Doves, Turin Breaks, Gomez, Eels, Elbow. Eminem. Grooves & production on Hot in Here. Can’t Get You Out of My Head. Missy Elliot’s ‘Get your Freak on’ and ‘Les Djinns’ by Djuma Soundsystem. Dance music from 70’s soul Earth Wind and Fire and the Jacksons, to 90’s New York Garage and beyond. The hi-fi, the lo-fi, the ambient, Americana/ Australiana.

I don’t emulate but I’m fine if they move through me and I express elements.

What speaks to you, moves through you, devours or cracks you open?