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Baker's Dozen

Augmenting Reality: Devendra Banhart's Favourite Albums
Tara Joshi , September 28th, 2016 09:34

Following the release of his ninth album, Ape In Pink Marble, the LA-based singer-songwriter and artist opts against a theme of lobster-based smut (read on) and talks Tara Joshi through his 13 all-time favourite records

Photograph courtesy of Osk Studios

"It was interesting to find out the etymology of the phrase 'baker's dozen'! Did you know there are three competing theories about where the term comes from? One was very technical and I don't recall it – so technical I couldn't comprehend; I was like, what is this, quantum physics?!"

It's with this sweetly enthused tone that Devendra Banhart takes a seat. It's breakfast time and we're in the cosy dining area of the 18th-century London hotel that's the singer-songwriter's home for the week.

The location is perhaps not a surprise – Banhart's tendency is towards a certain eccentricity. With that said, though he may be frequently labelled a "freak folk" hippie, as per his early days, his style and his sound are ever evolving and, as such, ever difficult to pin down. Ape In Pink Marble, his ninth album, is out this month and finds Banhart in a place that's more sparse, introspective and crepuscular than we've heard him before. More than the brash tropicália or the psych-tinged folk of his previous albums, the most obvious influence on this record is Japanese music.

"We wanted to evoke the feeling of being in a very cheap Japanese motel in the '80s," he explains. "I think Japan has maybe the most poetic culture – it's one of my favourite places on earth. It's an endless source of inspiration and I have undying admiration for almost all things Japanese."

The Baker's Dozen theme Banhart has already suggested has less to do with Japan, however, and goes by the title 'Current Raves and All-Time Faves!' He laments the choice already.

"It's a hack theme! I should have done better – honestly, I didn't realise that I could pick a theme. If I had known I could have a specific theme I could have done a whole list of, I don't know, food songs, or songs about capitalism, or crustacean erotica."

He could pick 13 records about crustacean erotica?

"Yeah, absolutely!"

But, for the sake of ease, we agree to stick to the list at hand.

Ape In Pink Marble is out now on Nonesuch. Devendra Banhart plays Beach Goth festival in Oak Canyon Park, California on October 23, El Plaza in Mexico City, December 2, and Trópico festival in Acapulco, Mexico, 2-4; for full details and tickets, head here. Click on his image below to begin scrolling through Devendra's choices, which run in no particular order