Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Who I Turn To: Keeley Forsyth’s Baker’s Dozen

From classic Broadway soundtracks and music as a visual medium, to the eternal inspiration of Scott Walker, Keeley Forsyth takes tQ through the thirteen albums that have defined her life and career

Photo by Ross Downes

In 2020, just before the world ground to a halt, actress and musician Keeley Forsyth was touring her debut album Debris. During her brief run of performances right after the release of the album, she found the music taking on a sort of physicality, embodying the feelings she had explored on record. On stage, she found herself channeling something she hadn’t yet fully come to understand into the expansive and orchestral yet earthy sounds she has always been drawn to. They went on to take the form of her forthcoming album Limbs. “It made sense to call it Limbs, because it felt like an organism that had started to grow and form into something,” she says.

If her debut sounded bottled-up and breathless, Limbs is far more open. Building from the trauma and triumph of Debris, Limbs’ lead single Bring Me Water’ beckons hope for a fresh start. Then, on ‘Wash’ – which employs Grammy Award-winning percussionist Evelyn Glennie – with raw lyricism she lets the optimism fall away amidst heartbeat-like throbs.

She grapples with a strange sense of loss until closing track ‘I Stand Alone’, which is the only song to be carried through from the Debris sessions and transformed alongside her. This vulnerable sound, made nuanced by a yearning for acceptance, echoes not only where she stands right now in her musical journey but what comes next – which she says has already grown into a “completely different world.”

This might be because she has finally gotten to grips with her love for reducing everything to the bare minimum. “I love taking ideas and sounds, and unravelling the deeply bound feelings behind them in my work.” Now, that her artistry has well and truly taken shape in the way she likes, she looks forward to the future. “Next, I want to do as many live performances as I can, bring in elements of theatre, dance, drama. My ideal would be having a residency in a theatre and developing a production that consists of the music I wrote. Another album is already done as well, the lockdown became a creative period for me.”

Her love for such simplicity in music also shines through in her 13 picks for tQ’s Baker’s Dozen. She ponders the common thread through her choices – which she describes as the records “that have stuck with me.” She says, “These people are not just musicians or performers, they manage to live and be alive through their art. They put their challenges into the vessel of their sound. There’s something full and honest about their intentions and when I listen to them, I feel like I’m understanding myself as a human through these artists.”

Keeley Forsyth’s new album Limbs is out now and she’s on tour in March – for dates please go here. To begin reading her Baker’s Dozen, click the portrait below

First 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