Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives


David Bowie – "Heroes"

Originally I was going to do a list of all Bowie albums! These are really important records to me. But "Heroes"… I love side two. I’m currently obsessed with ‘The Secret Life Of Arabia’ and specifically the piano parts. Sometimes I get into records purely because of a movement or an instrumental passage or lyric and I just fucking play it over and over again.

It’s an epic record and again, it’s stepping off into the transcendent place of infinite possibilities. Maybe love is the highest law and stepping off into that place and that sentiment that love can conquer all – that you can transcend all those little grey people who want to hold us down and keep us in our place, and that typical British cynicism; that’s cultural cancer, and you’ve got to get over it. I’m over that and I try to find beauty in everything.

I found that when I lived in Britain, in that period of the late 70s and early 80s, in Brixton and living in Glasgow and being homeless and watching my mother die of cancer and living in borderline squalor in a tenement where the pipes leaked and there was half a bottle of milk in a gas powered fridge from the 40s or 50s, and my father would give me pennies to go to the shops to get two eggs, and changing my mother’s bedsheets. To go from that and to come to North America to New York, having it really regenerate my North American experience, and it was like the Good Fairy came in and went, ‘Twing! No, it can be OK if you can just access your positive influences.’

But like Bowie, changing environments has affected my work. Absolutely. Just meeting different individuals, and it doesn’t have to be some guy living in a monastery in Tibet. You can meet a guy in the street. Like in India you can meet someone with an incredible smile and their eyes are electric, and the life force coming out of some of the people there – it’s incredible! And the vitality! But they have nothing! And they’re not grey, dour, downtrodden, unhealthy city dwellers. Living in New York and living in London you’re always seeing people who are battered.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Lord Spikeheart, Tom Ravenscroft
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