10 Artists That Got You To The Music You Like Now
This isn't even a list of my Top 10 Favourite Bands (that changes daily) but more the artists who had the most far-ranging and long-lasting effect on my musical taste.
1. Duran Duran
Duran Duran made me the person I am today. They were the first band I was ever *obsessed* with, the first band whose entire universe I wanted to enter, whose every move I wanted to know. And they truly were the first time I realised the effect of "influence". Investigating the artists that they were interested in lead me on an educational journey. Through them, I discovered Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, huge swathes of 80s synthpop. It was the first time that I realised music could be more than just a song on the radio, but a whole *lifestyle*.
I could blame art school, I could mutter something about "you can take the girl out of goth but you can't take the goth out of the girl" but the truth is, although I did go through a massive goth phase (with its accompanying love of black clad, big-haired bands like Sioxsie and the Sisters of Mercy) - it was actually Bauhaus's penchant for art-damaged glam that captured my imagination. Oh, and left me with a lasting love for disco-inspired octave-hopping bass and hi-hat work. I followed them all the way through Tones On Tail to Love & Rockets (through whom I would discover the joys of wibbly wubbly 60s psychedelia during their ''Express'' incarnation.)
3. New Order
Oh come on, do I really have to explain this one? They were like a religion to me. (Especially during the lost years of dodgy pharmeceuticals when I quite literally believed that Bernard Sumner controlled my thoughts. On checking into rehab for the second time, I carried a picture of him in my wallet, that I would tell the nurses was "my higher power".) They were a window into the ways that rock music and dance music could coexist without either genre losing what made it special. Oh, and introduced me to all of Madchester, but that's another story.
4. The Jesus and Mary Chain
"Makes you proud to be Scottish, doesn't it?" A prepubescent, sheltered Catholic Schoolgirl saw Just Like Honey video and although she didn't know what lurked inside those leather trousers, she knew she wanted it. The first time I'd ever heard feedback, and I was instantly hooked. *THAT* Ronettes drumbeat on "Just Like Honey" introduced me to the entire world of 60s girl groups, which would become an obsession. Oh, and through their namedropping and their covers, I discovered Can, Syd Barrett, the Velvet Underground, and the whole world suddenly made sense.
5. Spacemen 3
Could really be combined with the above, though I fell in love with them about 5 years later, they were a continuation of the same exploration. Directly introduced me to Delia Derbyshire, Suicide, Nuggets, the entire genre of Spacerock (Hawkwind, so much to answer for), the rest of the genre of Krautrock that the JAMC hadn't covered (especially the motorik NEU! side, early Kraftwerk, that sort of thing) and the synthesis of 60s bubblegum and space gospel pioneered (and then abandonned) on the first Spiritualized album would provide the blueprint for my musical taste for the rest of the 90s.
6. Throwing Muses
OK, I lied, this is more a "favourite band" than "influenced my musical taste" - unless of course, I bring in the whole 4AD connection because this was, I think, the first album I bought on that label. It was only after 1986, that I discovered the lush (argh) ethereal (double argh) sonic textures (shoot me now) of Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance and His Name Is Alive and Pale Saints and Lush and even The Pixies - and if you think of it that way, they probably affected my actual life more than any other band on this list. There's just something so impelling about the twisted melodies and off-kilter harmonies of Hersch and Donnelly that sends shivers down my spine.
7. Andrew Weatherall
This is an odd one, because I didn't discover the man's own work (specifically Sabres of Paradise) until only a few years ago, but his production and remix work bestrode my misspent clubbing youth like a colossus. My obsession with Manchester (started by New Order) caught fire after hearing his remixes of Happy Monday's Hallelujah. Primal Scream's Screamadelica was the soundtrack to more of my life than I'd like to admit, really - and opened the door to understanding the invasion of dance music that a mid-90s boyfriend bombarded me with on mixtapes.
The first time I played Peng! for a then-bandmate, she glared at me and grumbled "I thought I told you to stop playing me your demos." One of the accidentally highest compliments I've ever received in my life. Of course, in them, everything that had been swhirling around in my head for the previous decade was brought into sharp focus - droning Velvets guitars, analogue synth wub, motorik rhythms, dancable basslines and the sweetest of girlgroup harmonies.
9. My Bloody Valentine
My name is Kate, and I am a shoegazer. I admit that I am powerless in the presence of massive chains of effects pedals, belching feedback, woozy boy-girl harmonies, dirty bowl-cutted hair dangling in pale faces, stripey shirts, floppy brown corduroy trousers and worn-out chelsea boots. I have succombed to the temptations of Ride, Chapterhouse, Slowdive, Medicine, Curve, early Boo Radleys, early Verve, the Dandy Warhols, and I accept Kevin Shields as my lord and personal savior, for ever and ever, amen.
Well, I mean, come on. Indie rock in the 00s (with a few straggling exceptions) was straight-up nasty. The Strokertine Stripes? Fuck right off. The bubblegum super-producers managed to keep the string of perfectly poptastic hits going in a run that rivalled Kasenatz-Katz, PWL and Micky Most for chart and earworm domination. Yeah, so they're a bit rub now, and their formula has failed, as evidenced mostly clearly by the gruesome ruin of the Sugababes, but when they were good, they were untouchable.