Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

13. Sufjan StevensSeven Swans

He totally speaks to me. This is one of those records where I just had to tell myself that I couldn’t listen to it anymore and that I had to take a break or else I was never going to be able to listen to it again. I definitely got to that point. Like some of the other artists I’ve talked about, there should be so many people who can pull off what they do but that’s just not the way it is. Sufjan has a magical touch. It all comes together and it’s not trying to sound like anybody and it doesn’t sound like anybody. He really is wonderful at painting a picture and developing a mood. I haven’t listened to it in a really long time, to be honest, but it’s just beautiful, beautiful songwriting and I know nothing about that, not really. So it’s like this untouchable, incomprehensible thing for me to grasp, because I can’t imagine crafting songs in that way and having them be so unsettling and beautiful and emotional. I met with his label back in 2010, we did a record together, Sufjan offered the use of his space in Brooklyn where he had a piano and some instruments and so that led me to make The Magic Place. It’s just one of those things where my love of someone’s music led to something else. He’s really special to me in a lot of ways.

One of the craziest things is I went to Brooklyn last September to finish my record and I was there for two weeks. I went to my friend’s newly built studio and they asked me if I needed anything and I said that all I needed, really, was a sound-proofed room and a piano. And my friend said, "Oh, do you know where this piano came from? It’s Sufjan’s piano – he left it here after the last day of his tour for Age Of Adz." And I’m like: "You’ve gotta be kidding me." So I got in touch with him and I said, "Hey, you’ll never guess – I’m making my new record and it’s going to have your piano on it. Again."

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Lou Rhodes

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