Generally speaking, music speaks to the mind through emotions, and sometimes a song can change a life. I’ve had… quite a few life-changing songs over my life. Unfortunately I don’t have time to list them all in one vlog, but I thought I’d share 3 of which have been particularly impactful for me with you. Not gonna lie, this was really hard for me to curate – I have so many stories to go with specific songs throughout my existence!
Nine Inch Nails – Head Like a Hole
Over our entire friendship, my friend Maxwell (who I’ve talked about a few times on this vlog) has always been one of my main sources of discovering new music. He came to visit me in San Francisco a few times when we were kids, and whenever that happened most of our time was spent either listening to and playing music or spending way too much time (and money) at Amoeba records, which was conveniently just around the corner from where I lived. He is the biggest Nine Inch Nails fan that I know, and he convinced me to buy Pretty Hate Machine and the Downward Spiral. I listened to them and loved them – and subsequently bought the rest of the existing discography later that week.
I became fairly obsessed myself, and would listen to interviews and watch videos where I was able to find them. The internet was a pretty different place back then, so those things weren’t quite as easy to find. Anyway, I remember that there was one interview where Trent Reznor talked about his musical influences, and he listed a number of bands that I had never heard of. I decided to head back down to Amoeba and see if I could find any of these recordings, and did a few wild buys from the list: I bought Front 242’s “Front by Front”, Skinny Puppy’s “Remission”, and two industrial music compilations of various artists. That was truly the day I heard the “song of my people” and it’s defined so much of who I am.
So, I credit Nine Inch Nails’ Head Like a Hole as my gateway into the music which I most closely identify with: Industrial music.
Depeche Mode – Precious
Depeche Mode is my favourite band, hands down. In my humble opinion, they have never written a bad song. Sure, there are songs I like less than others, but still they are my biggest influence and my favourite thing to listen to.
I always knew who Depeche Mode was – I’d heard a lot of their earlier music throughout my childhood. However, I didn’t really _discover_ them until college, when they came out with their single “Precious” from Playing the Angel.
I was going through a rough time, emotionally speaking – I lived in a very communal house on campus, which was filled with wonderful and supportive people, but I didn’t really have any friends who were interested in the same things that I was, and Toronto winters are particularly long and bleak, so I was pretty lonely and down in a dark place.
I actually first heard the song on an episode of CSI, and the riff struck me so hard that I had to go find it. Sure enough I found a music video, and subsequently bought the album. I had that song on repeat for a month straight – the whole album actually. Sonically and lyrically, it resonated so well with what I was feeling, and helped carry me through until I could get my head in a better place. But thanks to that song, I can confidently say that I have a favourite band.
Gary Numan – Voix
I have always appreciated Gary Numan for his innovations in synth-based music, and was intrigued by his unique take on industrial in his later career. There was one obscure song of his called “Voix” which I heard on a b-sides and remix collection of his mid 80s-90s catalogue that I acquired in early high school that not only had a great vibe, but had lyrics that were so on point with me whilst growing up that I vowed to one day cover it.
…and so I did! On my 3rd demo album I created a version which acted as a lynchpin for the rest of the album, stylistically speaking. It was the first time I had done an album which was 90% electronic, and mostly inspired by the artists that I was actively listening to. It was actually the first thing I recorded on that release, and is still my favourite cover that I’ve done to this day.
I’m in the beginning stages of doing a revamp of that recording to take it from demo to final, so stay tuned into the new year for that as well as an accompanying video!