Letter #19

Good morning / afternoon / evening everyone,

I want to start with a thank you. My original plan was to send this out at 11am every Friday morning, to soundtrack the opening of the weekend. Lots of you open it up in the morning, but it wasn’t until this week (when someone told me!) that I realised a large section of our family aren’t on BST. 

We now have members on every continent (bar the really cold ones), and this letter now goes out to more than 60 different countries. It’s really humbling, so thank you everyone, everywhere, you make this letter what it is ❤️ . 

HERE’S this week’s playlist.

Sidenote: This week’s letter might look slightly different. Quite a few of you haven’t received the letter in the last few weeks, so I’ve changed the platform it’s sent from. If you have any issues, please shout.   

– 🎼  –

I have some exciting news! Alongside thinking about how I bring you better music and notes each week, I’ve also been thinking about how to bring new perspectives to our family. 

So, I’ve asked a few people to write us a guest letter 😃 . If you’d like to write a guest letter, please let me know. I’d love to hear from people far and wide. At the moment we have a magazine editor, an author, a documentary maker, one of the UKs most respected DJs, an obsessive music collector, and an artist. 
The first guest letter is hopefully going to be with you soon 😃 .

– ✏️  –

Someone asked me this week if the playlist was always made up of happy songs. I didn’t really have an answer, so I’ve gone back over the last eighteen letters to have a look. There are lots of happy sounding songs. Disco, jazz, soul, funk. It all sounds very chipper, and some of it is, but lots of it masks heartbreak, protest, and talks to darker days, but it got me thinking.

For me, music is an act of expression, and dancing is a collective act of transcendence. Music gives us a mask, an escape, and a connection. 

Bakhtin’s idea of the carnivalesque translates well to modern culture. This is the idea that we can explore more of ourselves, when we don’t feel like ourselves – the mask of music, the mask of the dancefloor – brings us the feeling of freedom to explore. More here

Ultimately, this letter has always been about bringing you music that you canlose yourself within. Music that can transport you elsewhere. Make you feelsomething. I think that art that brings us closer to truth and all that.

So, with the above in mind, I’ve been brave this week. The list runs from classic 80s batcave stars (Bauhaus), through to the fusion of early hip-hop, electro, and electronica, all the way to a few French Touch classics, and finishing on two of my favourite songs of all time (from Nirvana, and The Beatles).

First up I’d like to explain something. Or confess, rather. I love great music, from all eras, but I find three things really challenging. Country and western (Dixie Chicks etc), hardcore gangster rap (doesn’t abide with my Buddhist or feminist principles), and the 80s. With the 80s, I think it’s the overly synthetic sounds, the maximalism, and the polyester shell suits. Mainly the first two though. 

There are obviously exceptions to this rule. Some of those exceptions are Durutti Column, The Cure, Bauhaus, Gary Numan, and Front 242. 

These were all artists that I first listened to through tracing back other music. Durutti Column (from brilliant Thieves Like Us track Drugs In My Body – found on an equally brilliant Kitsune compilation). The Cure (Radiohead). Bauhaus (The Horrors’ unfairly much-maligned first album). Gary Numan (Klaxons). Front 242 (almost all modern techno). 

Down in the Park is a shout to KingAdz. Glad you got to see him dude.

It felt like these tracks lead nicely into Kraftwerk’s Metal on Metal, which is one of my favourite Kraftwerk tracks. Which (if I can remember properly), was sampled endlessly by Afrika Bambaataa on Planet Rock

Then we have One Of My Favourite Songs Of All Time (OOMFSOAT). I’ve tried to pace myself including OOMFSOAT’s, but this felt right. I first heardPhat Planet on one of the best adverts of all time. The Guinness advert. I saw the ad just as I was really getting into the swing of collecting music, and it immediately got me hooked on 1) Leftfield, and 2) advertising. 

Watching the ad again this week opened up a whole host of feelings. That lead to Jumbo, Laurent Garnier classic The Man With The Red Face (which I bought a third copy of this week, after wearing one out and losing another). 

This leads me to another big love of mine. Daft Punk. Well, more specifically, one of Daft Punk. Thomas Bangalter. Daft Punk’s Discovery was probably one of the first ‘dance’ albums I bought, and I was instantly besotted with the sound. So different, but so familiar. It took me ages to understand that a lot of Daft Punk’s tracks ‘borrowed’ from old soul, jazz funk, and disco records. I also spent about six months trying to recreate the type of bass and rhythm that’s prevalent in Daft Punk’s work (I had a short-lived hobby of music production). You know what I mean; that feeling that the bassline is literally sucking you in. It’s called ‘sidechain compression’, if you’d like to read more (here). 

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. Thomas Bangalter, it turns out, actually wrote most of the massive dance hits of the early 00s (either under pseudonyms, or ‘ghostwrote’). Eric Prydz smash Call on Me; Bangalter. Alan Braxe co-producer; Bangalter. Cassius exec-producer; Bangalter. Bob Sinclair’s HUGE hit Gym Tonic; Bangalter. And on, and on. So I’ve included some French Touch classics. 

Also, RIP DJ Mehdi. 

Finally, coming back to the subject of favourite songs of all time, I’ve included two that are in my top ten. Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged cover of Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World, and The Beatles’ Blackbird. As a teen I was obsessed with the poem that inspired The Man Who Sold the World. Called Antigonish, by William Hughes Mearns. It’s exceptional. I’m still obsessed. 

As always, if you’ve read to here, thanks for indulging me ♥️.

– 📄 –

  1. Bird Songs – Tropical Bird Sounds
  2. The Durutti Column – Sketch For A Summer
  3. The Cure – 10.15 Saturday Night
  4. Bauhaus – Telegram Sam
  5. Joy Division – She’s Lost Control
  6. Gary Numan – Down In The Park
  7. Front 242 – Body to Body – 2Trax
  8. Kraftwerk – Metal On Metal
  9. Afrika Bambaataa – Looking for the Perfect Beat
  10. Leftfield – Phat Planet
  11. Underworld – Jumbo
  12. Laurent Garnier – The Man With The Red Face
  13. I:Cube – Disco Cubizm (Daft Punk remix)
  14. David Douglas – Liquid Love]
  15. Hello – Oh Yeah
  16. Alan Braxe, Fred Falke – Intro
  17. Stardust – Music Sounds Better With You
  18. Bel Amour – Bel Amour
  19. Bob Sinclair – Gym Tonic
  20. Pete Heller’s Big Love – Big Love
  21. DJ Mehdi – Lucky Girl (Outlines remix)
  22. Nina Simone – See-Line Woman
  23. Eddie Gale – Black Rhythm Happening
  24. Herbie Hancock – Gentle Thoughts
  25. Michael White – Blessing Song
  26. The Mouse Outfit – Shak Out (feat. Sparkz)
  27. Elvis Costello – Wake Me Up
  28. David Bowie – Repetition
  29. Nirvana – The Man Who Sold the World
  30. The Beatles – Blackbird

See you on the dance floor.
Love Will Save the Day

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