Inspiration is such a magical thing. We can draw inspiration from anything, but it’s what makes us feel a connection to something in particular which is so interesting to me.
I often get asked what music inspires me and the truth is that I actually spend most of my time listening to music that is not at all reflective of my style of music. It also changes constantly. I go through phases of weeks and months of listening to a few favourite albums and then will change to another few. Other times I will just crave silence and the sounds of nature.
I think it suprises a lot of people when I tell them that I don’t listen to as much new music as one might expect. I sometimes feel a bit ashamed to admit this, as a musician I suppose I should make it my business to keep up with the trends but on the other hand I could easily drown in discovering new music and lose track of time to write my own.
It may sound weird, but I also feel that music is like a relationship. When I buy an album, I want to enjoy it, devote all my attention to it, really get to know it, listen to it over and over until I know every note and lyric and feel it is entwined with a part of me. These days it’s so easy to just casually flip through albums as though they were just fleeting one night stands and that’s just not my style. All these songs just get forgotten which seems such a waste to me.
Music has such a powerful emotional connection in my life. It is entwined with so many memories and dreams, so it’s important for me to treat it with respect.
Having said that, I have just begun to learn how to use Spotify (we don’t have Pandora in the UK) as a great way to discover new music and have been making an effort to listen to lots of new music when I’m at the gym (it’s a great distraction!), so I hope to keep a better balance of listening and writing from now on. But I will always buy my favourite albums and cherish them as I have always done.
So with that in mind, let me share with you what music has inspired me and why.
I grew up in the 80s so I inevitably have a love for all 80s songs. It was a great era for pop music. Those were the days of electronic sounds, colourful melodies and instrumental riffs. They were great songs to sing along to in the car and most songs will remind me of various childhood holidays and trips, which are all beautiful memories. Some favourites are Sade and Crowded House.
I love classical music. I grew up with classical music training and at the time I didn’t like having it forced upon me all the time, but now it’s like balsam for my soul. I listen to it in the car, at home, while working or reading. I’m not an expert of classical styles, but I’ve grown to love it more and more as I get older. I know young people might think it’s boring, but actually the key to enjoying classical music is to really listen to it, be in the moment and appreciate the subtleties, as you would with a good bottle of wine. Its very Zen really.
I particularly love the simplicity and purity of Erik Satie’s compositions and the joy and frivolity of the waltzes by Johan Strauss II remind me of my father as these were some of his favourite records.
I also love jazz. I am crazy about it. In contrast to classical music which is quite structured, there is freedom and spontaneity to jazz music which is just delightful. I have performed at a few jazz gigs in my time and if I could spend the rest of my life as a jazz singer I’d be very happy. There are so many artists I love. I think I own the entire Ella Fitzgerald catalogue. I love the fragility and gentleness of Astrud Gilberto’s songs. I used to gravitate towards singers with a higher vocal range that reflected my own, until I realised I had a lower range also and then I fell in love with Diana Krall’s beautiful sultry tones, I have all her albums.
It may be unpopular to say this, but I also think Michael Buble has one of the most amazing vocals and rivals his predecessors such as Frank Sinatra. Michael has helped make jazz relevant again and regardless what jazz purists might think, this is a great thing.
Other artists I love: John Proulx, Frank Sinatra, Julie London, Miles Davis, Steve Tyrell, Tony Bennett, Madeleine Peyroux.
I love a bit of Blues/Folk/Country/Alternative music: I absolutely adore Alison Krauss, Tina Dico, Richard Hawley, Lizz Wright, Sarah McLachlan, Cassandra Wilson, Etta James, Kings of Convenience, Sara Tavares, The Sundays to name but a few. I suppose what these artists have in common is their soulfulness, authenticity and honesty in their work.
And of course, my love of Electronic, Dance & Acid Jazz brings me to some of my favourites: Samantha James, Miguel Migs, Kaskade, Deadmau5, Bent, Lisa Shaw, Blue Six, Koop, Dzihan & Kamien, Air, International Pony, Goldfrapp, (Matthew) Herbert, Rinocerose, Massive Attack, Zero 7, Wickedbeatsoundsystem, Pnau, Dimitri From Paris, Dalminjo, Junior Jack, Clara Hill, Weekend Players, Sam Sparro, De-Phazz, Afterlife, De-Phazz and anything from Café Del Mar.
I listen to very little pop, occasionally there will be fantastic artists such as Adele, Amy Winehouse or Coldplay who draw me into the world of pop, but I have to say I’m not impressed by a lot of commercial radio and never have been really. That’s why I started writing music myself in the first place. I am even more baffled by the pop scene at the moment after last week’s VMA awards, but hey, it’s not like I actually listen to much of the stuff and it just reminds me of my own creative purpose.
So that’s a small insight into my musical inspiration! I’ll try and keep you posted with any new music I fall in love with.