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Baker's Dozen

Proper Stories: Emilíana Torrini's Favourite Albums
Tom Hughes , August 29th, 2013 07:38

Ahead of the release of her sixth album Tookah next month, the Icelandic singer-songwriter scours her record collection (mentally) to pick her top LPs

“I'm really, really sorry. I'm going to be so shit”.

Energetic, passionate and enthusiastic, Emilíana Torrini clearly found it difficult to condense her favourite albums into 13 choices. As she explains, “My manager said, 'You have to choose some albums!', and I thought, 'Errrr!' I’ve got a young child, my iPod was a mess and I couldn't find my records because we've just moved house… so I had to kind of go by memory.”

She laughs: “Basically I was psychologically tortured into picking them! Yesterday at 8 o'clock in the morning my manager barked, 'Have you got the list yet!' Well, lately I haven't had two hours to sit down and go through things, so I can't really talk to you about anything technical, and some things I don't even remember. I just have a story about what they did to me.”

Thankfully, Torrini’s personal stories include meeting Nick Cave wearing golf clothes, Stevie Wonder singing at a deathbed, ancient Persian poets and her childhood dream of marrying Leonard Cohen.

Without giving too much away, she explains some of her choices. “When I was growing up, on a little island in Iceland, albums weren’t that obtainable. I grew up with best of records and I didn't know you could buy actual albums until I was a teenager. And when I started buying my own records I still bought greatest hits because those compilations were the only things available by a lot of the artists I wanted. Most musicians I knew - like The Velvet Underground, Jefferson Airplane, all of these huge, huge bands - I got into them through greatest hits! I just thought that was what was done, and it was still mind-blowing. It was new to me that people made individual albums.”

Torrini’s career includes some surprising quirks. She co-wrote several tracks for Kylie Minogue including smash-hit ‘Slow’, sang on Paul Oakenfold’s biggest-selling album to date and performed the vocals on ‘Gollum’s Song’ for the soundtrack to the 2002 blockbuster The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers.

Yet as she sits down with the Quietus in a small room inside Spotify’s swanky London offices, Torrini has just finished playing a wonderful four-song teaser of her latest solo album Tookah to a small audience of staff and press. The Icelandic singer’s new material is infectious, beautiful and disarmingly subtle. But given the scope of her Baker’s Dozen selections, it would be tricky to pinpoint how a lot of the records might have influenced her work.

Tookah is out on Rough Trade on September 9. Click on Emilíana’s picture below to begin scrolling through her choices