Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Spiritual Streams: Perfume Genius’ Favourite Albums

Mike Hadreas AKA Perfume Genius takes Lior Phillips on an emotional and honest tour through his 13 favourite LPs, from Talk Talk and Patti Smith to Liz Phair and The Breeders. "Music made a part of me feel less lonely," he says.

The extraordinary mind behind Perfume Genius has deservedly come to be celebrated for his ability to display, express, and process his struggles – with Crohn’s disease, with his sexuality, with society’s response to it, with feeling like an outsider. But rather than sink into that well of misery, he continues to use his music as a tool to make others feel less alone – and he sure is quick with a giggle.

That’s especially true of his new album, the stunning No Shape, a record which unfurls as if it were a stage show at once incredibly grand and intimate. The album opens with Hadreas on an empty stage in a lone spotlight. Curtains drop away with a flash to reveal some ornate scene–and then that happens a dozen more times, each revealing a more powerful, inviting new world, with Hadreas always the magnetic core guiding through with an extended hand.

Though he says it’s not as diaristic as previous albums ("maybe just because I’m out of diary entries," he tells me with a laugh), No Shape feels incredibly close. Each string flourish feels as if it’s coming out of his body, threading through the listener’s veins, tying the world together. That makes sense, considering the role that music (and specifically the albums he lists here as his favourites) has played in Hadreas’ life. "I felt very much on the outside most of my life. A little bit less now, but still," he pauses. "I felt like I couldn’t have certain conversations with people, either because I was hiding things and couldn’t talk about it or I didn’t know how, even if I wanted to. So, music made that part of me feel less lonely."

Though he certainly struggled with loneliness, it seems as if most of the important musical connections Hadreas made came in tandem with connection with others. He connected to his dad’s love of Leonard Cohen and salsa music, dug into the Breeders with "other weirdos" in art school, and found an unexpected love of Bulgarian folk music with his partner, Alan Wyffels. Connecting with people is essential, and Perfume Genius has become Hadreas’ route to that end. "I very much write music that I think I would’ve wanted to hear when I was young, or would’ve given me the same kind of comfort that I’m talking about," he explains. "And I think that’s why traditionally I’ve been hyper-specific about my experiences and my sexuality, just so that someone could relate to it 100 percent, because I’m 100 percent being honest."

Click the image of Mike Hadreas below to begin reading through his Baker’s Dozen. For details of his forthcoming US and UK tour, please visit his website. He curates part of the fantastic Le Guess Who festival in Utrecht this November, for more information visit the festival website

First Record

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