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27 April 2015

Life Is Like A Box Of Records: Gerard Black (BABE)

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Life Is Like A Box Of Records today is with Gerard Black of band BABE.

The band’s exquisite new EP ‘The Hereaftergo’ers’ was released via Moshi Moshi Records and you can steam the in full now – soundcloud.com/babeband/the-hereaftergoers-ep

The band also begin touring tomorrow including dates with the wonderful Rozi Plain. Please find all tour dates below.

Elvis – In the Ghetto

This is my first musical memory, or more specifically, the first emotional connection I had with music. I must have been 4 or 5 years old, sitting in the back of my Gandparents’ car after a day out in Edinburgh, on our way back to Fife. As we worked our way through a greatest hits compilation, I remember Uh Uh Uh-ing through the upbeat rock n roll numbers until this came on and it absolutely FLOORED me. The spooky gospel backing vocals and the line “… and the world turns” sent chills down my spine (and tears down my cheeks).

Cocteau Twins – Heaven Or Las Vegas

The Cocteau Twins have probably been the most important band in my life, a band I can always go back to. As a teenager there were many Scottish indie bands that inspired me make music and sing in my natural voice, but the Cocteaus always seemed to be from another planet – I couldn’t believe they were from Grangemouth.

Elizabeth Fraser said more to me with her patch-work “gibberish” than most could ever hope to. I always used to imagine a line from this one being “I want a lover from Dundee” at time when Dundee was the nearest city to me and seemed really exotic.

Claude Debussy -  La Fille aux Cheveaux de Lin

During my late school years, I went through a big shoegaze/ambient electronic phase. I remember looking through my Mum’s record collection and amongst the Michael Jackson and Roxy Music albums there was a box set of classical music with a side entitled ‘Tranquility’. I thought “this’ll be well trippy” and pinched it to have a listen. When it got to this track I had a little epiphany; this was classical music I actually understood. It wasn’t like the Classic FM top 10 (“at #3, the theme from Harry Potter…”), it was a delicate, weaving journey that had as many twists and turns as it did harmonic and melodic depth. This undoubtedly started a love affair for all things French.

The Associates – Party Fears Two

I had heard the story of Billy MacKenzie before I had ever heard the music. I approached my first few listens rather gloomily – it seemed the shadows he lived with were indeed numberless – but listening to Billy’s frenetic vocal delivery revealed a playfulness and humour that was magnified by his TOTP performances and interviews. These boys were having fun, and again, the Associates were other-wordly in a way that Scottish bands rarely are. I think I learned to really control my voice singing along with Billy and Party Fears Two is still my vocal warm-up song.

BWH – Stop

I moved to Glasgow when I was 18 years old and started going to clubs and listening to various forms of electronic dance music. One genre that really stuck with me was Italo Disco. The weirder and wonkier the better, and I’d often dig for dub or instrumental versions because the vocals had a tendency to be on the wrong side of cheesy. BWH’s ‘Stop’ definitely was an exception to the rule. Through an amalgamation of analogue effects units; indistinguishable lyrics; and loose double-tracking (read: out of tune singing). This song really got it right. Still a staple of my DJ sets.

Kate Bush – Mother Stands for Comfort

Being an only child and the son of a single mother, this song makes me thankful for her devoting every waking day to bringing me up, and it always gives me a gentle reminder to give her a call.

Ryuichi Sakamoto – Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence

I first became aware of Sakamoto through Yellow Magic Orchestra, a Japanese synth group from the 70s (still going!). Sakamoto played the lead melodies and did the vocoders, but also wrote a lot of their hits. He also wrote, in my opinion, the most perfect song ever. Not only does it remind of the greatest live performance I’ve ever seen in my life (Sakamoto – Playing the Piano at the Queens Hall in Edinburgh, 2009) but it also reminds of my time spent in the south side of Glasgow. I had bought a rough n ready piano from the Salvation Army and this was the first song I learned to play on it.

The Beach Boys – Surf’s Up

Again, preceded by a legend; the album that never was.

I had always been a Beach Boys fan growing up, mainly thanks to my Grandad. The surf tunes were fun and very well written, and Pet Sounds is… Pet Sounds. In 2004 Brian Wilson finally finished SMiLE, the album he never completed back in 1967, and it really struck a chord with me. All the chords. Beautiful chords that I had never heard put together like that before, which I subsequently learned the names of and realised what notes you had to play in order to make up a chord like Gdim/C#.

I developed an obsession with this album that would last years and years, resulting in me finding all the old demos from 1967 with the original Beach Boys vocals. The SMiLE ultras have compiled these old demos and edited them to make an approximation of what finally came out in 2004. It’s really good.

Mdou Moctar – Anar

Back in June 2011, during a brief stint of gigs in Germany, I met a guy called Falko from Berlin who was DJing William Onyeabor, Francis Bebey and the like at Fusion Festival in Mecklenburg. Falko said we should pop into the record store he worked at in Berlin if we had time and we did.  I had been immersing myself in a lot of African music by this point but nothing got stuck on a loop as much Mdou Moctar. It was part of the Music From Saharan Cellphones series, compiled by Sahel Sounds. I initially loved it for the saturated auto tune effect on the vocal and it became the soundtrack to the summer, my first summer living in Bordeaux.

Holger Czukay – Persian Love

I first heard this song while living in Bordeaux with girlfriend at the time, and she considered this to be my greatest find. For a period it would be the first song of the day and the last song at night. The song features some early tape sampling, back when you’d have to cut tape manually. It still amazes me how rhythmically and harmonically perfect the samples sit on the track, on a bed of Jacki Liebezeit drums and Holger’s bass, guitars (the guitars!!!) and synths. Sublime.

BABE Tour Dates:

APRIL
28 – Manchester (The Castle) w/ Rozi Plain
29 – Bristol (Thekla) w/ Rozi Plain
30 – York (The Basement) w/ Rozi Plain

MAY
5 – London (The Lexington) w/ Rozi Plain
30 – Glasgow (Glad Cafe / GoldFlakePaint Festival)

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