Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

3. Laurie AndersonBig Science

Laurie Anderson I discovered in college along with a whole other collection of artists, like Philip Glass, John Cage and Pauline Oliveros. I took an experimental music class when I was 18, which opened up this entire world of music I’d been missing. In high school I listened to Einsteurzende Neubauten and I’d pick up weird-looking found sound records from the used record bin at my local record store, but this was the first time I’d really studied it.

Looking back at the vast majority of music that influenced me as a teenager, 99% of it was by boys. Before, my female influences had been Cyndi Lauper and Madonna and Alison Moyet. But Laurie Anderson was just playing an entirely different game. She was just making the bizarre music that she wanted to. She didn’t need to glam up. I just remember looking at the fucking album cover of Big Science and thinking ‘This is the coolest fucking woman in the world.’ She looks like she gives no shit about what anyone thinks of her, in a way that surpassed Riot Grrrl or anything like that. And the fact that she had a powerhouse intellect and was a storyteller… she set a new bar in my head.

She was a performance artist, which was what I wanted to be when I was 18. I imagined that I’d do something with theatre and music, probably both. I never thought as myself as any great shakes as a musician – and I still don’t – but I thought of myself as a great creative performer. What Laurie Anderson and Pauline Oliveros were doing was taking the instruments they’d been taught and transmuting them into this beautiful, strange world of art. They were taking that stuff and fucking it up, and that gave me a lot of hope.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Anthony Fantano, , Circuit des Yeux,
PreviousNext Record

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today