Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

3. PortisheadDummy

During my teenage years, Portishead was one of the few bands I engaged with. Like many of my peers, I’d had a Nirvana phase and liked the Cranberries, but nothing compared to my infatuation with Portishead. One of my sisters had this album, which I can vividly recall listening to in her room. The mood of it completely chimed with the way I was feeling. The production – the cavernous space of it – hypnotised me. Beth [Gibbon]’s vocal style inspired me to become a singer. Her range is unbelievable – the way she projects this fragility that’s also gnarly and powerful, at times, almost snarling.

When I was composing as a teenager, and even now, Portishead’s influence has been profound. Dummy was playing in my car yesterday when I was driving around to get my kids, and I was just struck by the simplicity; the leanness and the refined quality of it, is still so powerful. There’s no fat; every sound has a purpose, producing this brilliant impact. There’s a lot from that period that hasn’t aged well, but Portishead and in particular this album are another story altogether.

Knocking around somewhere is a demo that I made when I was sixteen on a Casio synthesiser and cassette recorders. I would layer up, multitrack, recordings with two different tape recorders. One of the songs is essentially a rip off of a track from Dummy – I think it might be ‘Biscuit’? I’ll have to send it to Geoff Barrow because it’ll probably make him laugh.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Metronomy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rat Scabies, Agnes Obel, , , Cee Lo Green
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