Life Is Like A Box Of Records: Fiona Soe Paing

Life Is Like A Box Of Records: Fiona Soe Paing

Today’s ‘Life Is Like A Box Of Records’ is from half-Burmese, half Scottish electronic producer and vocalist Fiona Soe Paing who has just released her debut album Alien Lullabies out now via Colliderscope!

You can check out the video for The Ballad of Two Sisters via Fiona’s YouTube channel along with a vast array of other animated videos that accompany tracks from Alien Lullabies. You can now purchase Alien Lullabies on iTunes and stream the album via Spotify.

Here are all of Fiona’s record choices:


When I was at school we had a maths teacher who me and my friend really fancied. What we didn’t know was that he was also really great saxophone player, and we were both overcome by teenage hysteria when at a school concert one year, he got up onstage with the school band and played the Pink Panther theme tune on his sax, looking outrageously sexy. From that moment on my friend and I became obsessed with the song – my friend’s mum happened to have an album of Henry Mancini’s music, and we used to sit in her bedroom playing the Pink Panther theme over and over….


This song brings back really funny memories of being in New Zealand around 2008. I was hanging out with Zennor who makes my animations. He is originally a Kiwi, and had recently gone back to live in NZ, but hated it and really wanted to be back in the UK where he’d spent most of his life. He used to go on an on about how there was no decent culture or music in NZ, and how everything was stuck in the 1970’s. As an example he said you still heard Hotel California on the radio all the time. Sure enough, everywhere we went, that song seemed to be playing, in shops, in bars, on the bus… Then only a few days ago, he told me how he was in the doctor’s waiting room, thinking about how he hated being stuck on his paradise island with no escape. Of course, Hotel California came on the radio…. and everyone started singing along! He was mortified at the irony.


When I was really young, I used to listen to my mum’s records in the front room on Sundays. She had a really great eclectic collection of all sorts of unusual things… some African hi-life, Indian ragas, and some jazz. One of the records I used to play, dancing around the room, was Limehouse Blues, by Stepane Grapelli . It used to really intrigue me as I wondered what on earth a Lime House could be, and why it was blue, as limes are green.


When I lived in London, I used to go out with a guy who lived in a squat in Crouch End. He was a bit of a hippy and used to walk round in bare feet all the time, and prided himself on not spending any money, and using things he’d found in rubbish skips. He’d salvaged an old record player, and had a tiny collection of about 8 records he’d got in charity shops. I remember sitting up all night round a wood fire, playing his scratched old records, and Pressure Drop was one of the ones we used to listen to lots. Whenever I hear it now, I’m immediately transported back to sitting on the floor in a draughty squat, with the smell of wood smoke in my hair.


Another one form being a little girl! I had a record of music from the famous ballets, along with a book of the stories. I used to sit and read the stories listening to the records, and be transported off into another world. One that really stuck in my head was the Swan Lake theme tune, as it had a scratch on the violin solo part, and rather than spoiling it for me, I used to listen and look forward to the scratched bit come up every time I played it.


This track brings back memories of living in Brighton, coming back from late night dance parties at the Concorde 2 on Brighton beach. We used to walk back along the seafront and make a stop-off at the all night Market Diner for an all-you-can-eat “Gut Buster” special fry-up, before going back to my friends seafront flat to chill out and listen to tunes watching the sun come up over the sea. Massive Attack’s “Protection” was my most memorable track on the chillout playlist from those days, with it’s soulful, dreamy vibe and Tracey Thorne’s gorgeous voice.


Another clubbing related track from the 80’s. I spent most of the 80’s clubbing in London, from the underground warehouse parties in Brick Lane, to the Mutoid Waste company’s famed Kings Cross all-nighters, and the WAG club in Wardour Street. I used to follow round a DJ called Paul Murphy, who was one of the pioneers of the “New Jazz” and rare groove scene. Maceo and the Macks’ “Cross The Track” was a track that always got me jumping up, and has really stuck in my mind from my dancing days!


I lived in Brighton at the end of the nineties, at the same time as Fatboy Slim was living there and taking over the charts. You just couldn’t get away from hearing “Right Here, Right Now” and I remember loving it, and dancing round my bedroom like a crazed banshee. I was living there when he had his famous rave on Brighton Beach, where there were so many people crammed onto a narrow strip of beach that many of them ended up being pushed into the sea and had to be rescued by the coastguard. I was relieved that I had decided to listen from the comfort of my bedroom.


I work with adults with learning disabilities running drama and music sessions, and a couple of years ago we put on a show with the group, where at one point there was a love song by the leading man. He was a great singer, and loved the crooners especially , and had been brought up on his mum’s favourites from the sixties and seventies. The song he chose to sing in the play was “There’s a kind of Hush”… I heard that song about three times a day for the whole summer….. it’s a gorgeously delicious piece of cheese.


This track really brings back memories of being on Waiheke Island in New Zealand. We used to sit in our local cafe on the beach, The Lazy Lounge, drinking flat whites, looking at the stunning view of a turquoise blue sea, listening to the waves crashing on the rocks. The Fever Ray album had just come out, and they played it constantly in the cafe. What makes this track a particularly perfect soundtrack to this time, is that there’s actually the sound of seashore at the end.

You can now buy Alien Lullabies by Fiona Soe Paing on iTunes and stream the album via Spotify.

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