Yasmine (The Best, narrowed down by a million)
Laurie Anderson, “Smoke Rings”From Home of the Brave (1986), Laurie Anderson's concert film. The song has always and continues to give me goosebumps. A friend of mine came over with the video, and I felt everything change. These moments when you realize, “Fuck. It can be like this?” I watched the video everynight until the VHS started to give way. Maybe, I just had a shitty VHS player. I would, literally, watch the video and wonder if there would ever be a day when I could have such an impact on another person as this had had on me. It became my personal goal.
She was able to bring performance and music together in a way that I didn't even know could be possible. It was exciting to discover… but it scared me, because I knew I had to strive to create bodies of work that were all encompassing of what I do…. because clearly it was possible. I had no excuse.
I had to include this one, too:
Laurie Anderson and Peter Gabriel, “Excellent Birds”
The video created for Nam June Paik's “Good Morning Mr. Orwell,” aired around the world on January 1, 1984. Three geniuses. Mind is blown. Laurie Anderson, one of my heroes, blurring lines between male and female, blurring lines of reality and constantly questioning everything. Continuing to create, creation as necessity. I used to listen to this album on my record player every night before I went to bed. (After I would watch my video of her performances in Home of the Brave.)
Gary Numan, “Down In The Park”
This is from Urgh! A Music War (1982). This is another concert film I watched religiously. This particular performance always gave me goosebumps. I would get close to the TV and wait like a child in anticipation for Gary to emerge, even though I had seen it many, many times. It makes me want to laugh but I'm so awestruck that I don't know what to do with him. Gary Numan just comes out in this tiny little car and slides across the stage. Are you serious? How do you take that? And then he just starts twirling while still trying to look hard as fuck, and pulling it off. You got owned by Gary Numan in a little baby car. Deal with that.
Lene Lovich, “New Toy”
Here's a woman pushing boundaries whose not afraid to look or sound scary, whose being honest and genuine in her strangeness, embracing it, and making you love it, in the form of a pop song, even. What more could you want? There are videos rolling around somewhere of me sitting in my room (I'm an only child) and singing along to the songs with some improvised choreography.
I spent a bit of time in the hospital&emdash;my lungs have collapsed three times&emdash;and I remember a friend bringing a travel record player to my hospital room and three Lene Lovich records. Thinking about it now, that's kind of hilariously strange… but she was all I wanted to listen to. She held quite a place in my life: pushing boundaries of acceptability (as Laurie Anderson did), and pushing me to realize that ultimately there were no boundaries. No one can tell you what “the right way” to do something is, only you control that. In this video she looks amazing and crazy, yet so controlled!
Dinosaur Jr., “Thumb”
I used to listen to this album (Green Mind) in high school driving a Mercury Sable with my matching Dinosaur Jr. bumper sticker right on the back just in case you couldn't hear it blasting out of the car. I thought I was so cool. I was way late getting into them… but I could care less. I listened to Green Mind every single day. It was the only CD I would listen to for a long long time. I would drive to it and cry about some boy I had a crush on or drive fast and make my hair blow in the wind to it like I was in a music video. And I would practice singing the songs like J.Mascis. I mean PRACTICE. I was pretty sure we sounded exactly alike at the time.
Sparks and Rita Mitsouko , “Singing In The Shower”
I love everything about this song. The vocals, the way the music drops in and out… the video is perfect. When I first heard this song, I remember my jaw dropping, and not being able to move, and Rita Mitsouko looking crazy as hell and beautiful at the same time, singing in the face of a musical genius. I love the attack: Committed, no apologies, making strong choices that would have any musician second guessing themselves in the mixing room. I would've had a meltdown in that mixing room, and that is the fucking truth. I've never heard a song like this.
DB the General, “RIP Burger”
This is a song dedicated to this rapper Burger who was killed at around 17 years old. I have never heard a more emotional/ passionate memorial rap song. The vocals are so guttural, so desperate. You can hear the pain in the cries that are looped in the background. I cried the first time I heard it.
Nolan Thomas, “Yo Little Brother”You play me a video/song better than this, and I will cut all my hair off. How does this song even exist? It's too perfect. I'm like actually mad at how perfect it is. Mini Prince? Mini Cyndi Lauper? Mini RIC OCASEK?? The set? The song is spot on. Fuck you for being so good.
Lil Wayne, “Gonorrhea”Will and I listened to this every single day of our first European tour. We would listen to it before we would play to get pumped. The Europeans that would come into our dressing room pre-show seemed to be truly disturbed by this, because I would be singing and dancing to it so hard, and sometimes, Will would be dancing. It was like they were hoping we would be listening to something really emotional before we played and then boom, “Gonorrhea” pulled up on youTube with the lyrics visible so I could sing along properly.
The Fall, “Eat Y'Self Fitter”This was my favorite period of The Fall, most probably solely because of Brix. She was a force and it was evident in the dramatic change she brought to the band's sound – poppy yet so musically complex. Perverted By Language was the first album to feature Brix and the influence was immediately clear. She sang backing vocals on this song.
The video is minimal and amazing and shows Mark E. Smith's sense of humor. This is actually one of my favorite videos. So strange and amazing. I met Mark E. Smith. He gets a bad rap, but I feel like this video is really the most representative of his odd sense of humor. I felt like a little kid meeting him, and I remember giggling at one point because I thought of him in this song.
The Fall, “Hit The North”Brix co-wrote this song and many in the early to mid 80s. What an incredible time for The Fall.
I love going on tour and coming home with tons of new music to listen to. The Coppertone tape on Night People is my fav from this last tour. We shared The Smell stage at Domy Books in Austin at SXSW this year. Here's vid of that and yes this song is on the tape!
Another good one I got when we were in San Fransisco is the Brotman & Short cassette on Hardscrabble Amateurs. Jessie ran the sound board for us at 120 Minutes, an excellent club at Elbo Room in SF. Here's a fun B & S vid:
Besides shows and swag, slumber parties are the best part of tour. Telling weird, stupid, scary stories, being too loud, too late, and of course, keeping it classy. This is the ultimate in up-all-night sleepover make-you-miss-your-flight-the-next-day style. A true classic, and definitely the way we roll. Por vida, 2 tha max!