We caught up with Rose Suau from the band and found out what her favourite and most influential tracks are for this week’s Life Is Like A Box Of Records…
1. “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” – Saint Etienne
When this song came out, I was an adolescent growing up in the suburbs of Detroit. I always felt like a misfit when it came to music. At first, Saint Etienne and this song were my very own secret, but they did eventually get airtime on a local alternative radio station. The production on this song sounded so fresh and innovative. Moira’s voice was the ultimate cool and she seemed so intriguing. I wanted to be THAT girl, and not the shy, awkward one, dancing alone in her bedroom.
2. “Ballerina Out of Control” – Ocean Blue
The Ocean Blue deftly captured so much of what was happening in the British guitar pop scene at the time and made it entirely their own. In fact, I didn’t realise they were American until I wrote their label and joined their “fan club” as a teen. They sent me an autographed photo that I still have today, oddly enough. This song is sophisticated with nice synth sounds and washy guitars, and it always evokes the feeling of floating on water to me. It’s timeless.
3. “Round and Round” – New Order
New Order were definitely an integral part of my formative years. When this song came out, it was one of the best songs to dance to. Later, when I started to write my own music, I learned to appreciate their technique more from a production standpoint. Their songs were catchy, lyrically simplistic but memorable, and had so many deliberately placed layers in their arrangements.
4. “He Watches Her From Behind” – Stina Nordenstam
Stina Nordenstam is and will always be my hero, and she’s definitely my biggest influence. Her songs are like vivid little vignettes, snapshots of a moment in the lives of the most interesting people. She is like this omnipresent observer of the smallest details. Thematically, the stories frequently touch on the possibility or impossibility of things, the strangeness of things. Hope, heartbreak, love, lack of love. Wanting and not wanting when you finally get whatever it is you thought you wanted. On the surface, Stina’s voice makes her seem like she’s fragile, but she’s filled with all this strength and innate wisdom. This song is really evocative. It’s the moment two people realise they exist on the same plane, and there’s so much potential for them to change each other’s destiny, but neither of them make a move, so their paths don’t cross. The lyrics are pure genius and I know all of her songs by heart to this day.
5. “Before I Came” – Club 8
This song is symbolic to me since it was more than likely the catalyst for Johan (the other 1/2 of Djustin) and I establishing our friendship long, long ago. In my college years, I was really into all things indie pop. Club 8 was one of my absolute favourite bands. This song came out during a time when my friends and I were all dating and starting semi-serious relationships, but also trying to figure out who we were individually. That’s what I felt this song was about – wanting to hold on to someone that really just needed their own space. Karolina’s voice is so pure and lovely and earnest. That line, “Please don’t do this to us” just kills me. I cry every single time I hear it, without fail.
6. “Love Yourself” – Blueboy
Blueboy will always hold a special place in my heart. Keith Girdler was one of the brightest lights ever – such a graceful, thoughtful and generous spirit. Gone far too soon. As time passes, these lyrics mean so much more to me now, “Need to let go, it’s not forevermore. Be practical and love yourself.” Self-love comes undoubtedly before loving anyone else.
7. “Katy Song” – Red House Painters
Red House Painters is one of those go-to bands for when you are feeling lonely, depressed and want to ugly cry by yourself. This song and “Japanese to English” are pure torture. Mark Kozelek’s voice is filled with such a beautiful desperation that can leave you drained, but also feeling like you have a someone there to pass you the tissues and chocolate.
8. “Taramasalata” – Eggstone
For a short while, in my mid-twenties, I used to DJ with some friends one night a week in a little room above the Garden Bowl (a well-known bowling alley) in Detroit. The event was nicknamed “S.I.P.S.” , which was short for “Secret International Pop Society”, where we played indie pop from all over the world – Japan, England, France, Sweden, etc… Indie kids from the suburbs came out of hiding that night, even some kids from across the border in nearby Windsor, Ontario Canada. It was a really fun night to hear excellent music, flirt, and dance. One song that always got everyone dancing and singing along was “Taramasalata” by Eggstone. It just had that instant feel-good effect, and still does to this day. Per Sunding from Eggstone is another one of my eternal heroes.
9. “I’d Rather Dance” – Kings of Convenience
Kings of Convenience are sheer perfection live. Their show was my most favorite to date. They are so charming and an absolute pleasure to watch. When they played this song in Detroit, they invited people to come up and dance with them on stage, which we jumped at the chance to do. It was so much fun! After the show, the band hung around for a DJ set and we got to meet Erland and chat with him a bit. I remember thanking Erland for coming to Detroit and saying bye, and he unexpectedly kissed me on the cheek. I’ll never forget that moment . Very swoon-worthy.
10. “Am I Wry?” – Mew
Mew are just brilliant. Their sound is intelligent and unique. I’m always amazed at how their aesthetic is constantly evolving, but at the core, their songs are purely Mew. This song is really what piqued my interest with them. Jonas has such a special voice and he’s also such an eloquent lyricist. Someone so poetic seems like he’d make the perfect boyfriend. Hi, Jonas!