Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

10. Grace JonesNightclubbing

I could have picked a number of records for her, she’s a very important figure for me, and someone who I’ve been very lucky to have crossed paths with creatively. She was the first artist that I got that feeling from, basically "be yourself". I was born in Vienna and lived there till I was about 11. I’ve got six sisters and a brother and I’m the youngest, and my sisters were really into Grace Jones. I think a couple of them thought they were Grace Jones, they would kind of dress up like her and go clubbing in Vienna. That’s how she arrived into my world. I remember going into my sister’s bedroom and picking up Slave To The Rhythm and seeing the Jean-Paul Goude artwork and thinking it was the most terrifying and beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I knew on some level that it wasn’t real, that the image had been manipulated in some way but I was too young to realise that was something you could do in post-production. So that thing of being real and unreal really scared me but also really spoke to me. I remember it as the first time that I entered into that conversation with an artist, saying: "That person is doing their thing, so that gives me licence to do my thing." That was really important for me growing up in such unique and strange circumstances in a way, being a Kenyan in a family of eight growing up in Vienna where there weren’t many people like me around.

I love the fact that I listened to that music for years and didn’t even think about its relationship to reggae. That sound that the Compass Point All Stars are making just feels like their own sound and I didn’t start unpicking the DNA of it until much later. It just feels so, so unique. All music is connected to other music, I think that can be in a very oppressive and limiting way or it can feel like it’s part of a heritage and a lineage and a natural progression. There’s a depth in terms of what it’s rooted in and it’s got a lot of those qualities that I love. It’s dance music but it’s a dance music that has life and idiosyncrasy and imperfection. But it’s also got that amazing ’80s slick production thing going on, and all of that seems to serve this extraordinary being at the centre of it. It’s one of those records that when I hear it it always puts a wide smile on my face. It’s saved me from quite a few DJ sets as well.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Irmin Schmidt, Simple Minds,
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