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Baker's Dozen

Beat Codes: Spoek Mathambo's Favourite Albums
Lior Phillips , August 30th, 2017 12:23

Spoek Mathambo gives Lior Phillips a tour of his record collection, crossing continents between the music of his South African homeland, American rap, and British new wave


Siouxsie & The Banshees - The Best Of Siouxsie And The Banshees
You mentioned earlier that you heard The Clash and Joy Division on that cassette, was that where you heard Siouxsie as well?

It was the same car ride, the same cassette. My friend was the best DJ. I still don't know anything about Siouxsie and the Banshees, really. On that cassette it was 'Hong Kong Garden'. My friend gave me the Best Of album, and through college I just listened to it a lot: 'Israel', 'Dear Prudence', 'Hong Kong Garden', 'Peek-a-Boo'. Here you'll hear some wailing. With singing, God gives you a throat, a chest, and vocal cords, and it isn't like guitar playing where you pick up and learn. Of course, with singing your chops grow, but for a lot of people it's quite natural. Even if someone is shy and you say they're not a singer, the real way to test it is to hear them in the shower when no one else is there. I'm not very particular about great singers. To me, Johnny Cash is a very effective not great singer. Punk people are effective not great singers. Someone like Morrissey, he sings so strangely. I play his music for some people, and they're like, "Turn this off. What is this?" I love his voice. In the same way, if I play Beyonce for other people, there are cultural sensibilities where that way of singing is not good singing. If I play them Mongolian throat singing, that's not singing. Siouxsie, for me, was very easy to listen to. Plus, the songs are super hooky.

I used to do a lot of animation work and graphic design, so that means being awake at 4 a.m., the witching hour, and you either need stuff to meditate and zone out to or great sing-along stuff to keep you motivated through really rigorous slog work that you'll be doing through 24-hour sessions. You need stuff to pump you up and keep you singing along. I like a lot of the new wave and punk stuff.

Now Siouxsie's songs are just about it being 3 a.m., being delirious, haven't slept for a day, the assignment is due tomorrow but I'm having the most fun, working very hard but I'm having a very creative time. That's my most fond memory of that album. Siouxsie and the Smiths are just singing loud at like 3 a.m. If you're going to sing along to Morrissey, even if you think he has a beautiful voice, your voice is not going to be beautiful singing along to Morrissey. All the modulation you have to do, it's not going to be spot on. [Laughs] Karaoke Morrissey! Karaoke Morrissey is dodgy. But there's a lot of life and energy. In those early hours of the day, I can just be by myself, really free, and just have a lot of fun.