The first band I started listening to and became interested in was The Beach Boys when I was around 7 or so.
I loved The Beach Boys. My parents would buy me cassettes of their stuff, and I totally would be dancing in my room to it (which my brother would make fun of me for, but I didn’t care). It was the first band I’d listen to with my own copies of music and would actively seek out. It would definitely represent the core of what I love; catchy, feel good music with great songwriting.
My next love would be the Beastie Boys, who were introduced to me by my older sister, via their album Ill Communication, when I was probably around 8 or 9. I remember when I first heard it, and I was listening to the cassette in headphones, in the small living room at our aunt’s house that was filled with all us kids and the adults, and getting totally into Rhymin’ and Stealin’, singing along and shouting the lyrics when they’re saying, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves!”, and my mom and sister and aunt had to tell me to stop shouting lol. This was my first exposure to styles beyond what my parents listened to or the kinda “safe” music I’d normally encounter.
After this, when I was in fifth grade (about 10), I discovered through my parents’ collection Tears for Fears, one of their greatest hits albums. Shout, Everybody Wants Rule the World, the songs I’d love the singing and verses. Also about this time I began thinking about how cool it’d be to be a DJ, introducing songs and playing the music I loved to others.
From here, I began to pick up an interest in swing music from my dad. I was in middle school at the time, between 12 and 13 years old. Brian Setzer Orchestra, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, and tho I wouldn’t appreciate them until later, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald. This touched back on “feel good” music, good music for lots of people having fun. I never was a very social kid, but I did always want to be a performer or the person in front of the crowd of sorts. I always loved jumping into the break dance circles at school dances, or making jokes in class.
Then, one evening on one monumental day in 1999, my brother introduced me to Fatboy Slim. This would be the start of my love and passion for big beat, electronic, djing, and sample based music. My brother and I were home alone for the evening as our parents had gone to see a play downtown. I was watching my brother play a video game, until I fell asleep. My brother then put on “In Heaven”, from You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby, and woke me up blasting it on the surround sound system. It was awesome. I hadn’t heard anything like it. It had the feel good surf kinda stuff from The Beach Boys, DJish elements from the Beastie Boys, synths like from Tears for Feats. It was music unlike anything I’d heard before, and it opened my mind to a completely different way of making music aside from traditional guitar player or piano player kinda musicians, which I never had a strong desire to be (I was never good at practicing an instrument, songs weren’t cool and you never were anywhere near as good as other performers).
I borrowed my brother’s copy of the album, and started listening to it. The more of it I heard, the more it blew my mind. I had no idea music like that existed; sampled beats, cool slice edited rhythms, synthesizer lines, cut up guitars… I began reading about electronic music, using old sampled breaks to create new songs, remixes, synthesizers, scratch DJ’s… it was amazing! From here I began exploring the big beat genre, Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, as well as house and trance, Oakenfold, Timo Maas, BT, and discovering the world of electronica. This was my formative period, my initial expansion into electronic music, when I was 15/16. I also got into some other non- electronic stuff, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
From there, throughout high school, (16/17) I began refining my tastes, discovering breaks, old school rave, more house music, and really exploring DJ’s beyond what was played on the radio. I began discovering Orbital, the Orb, Meat Beat Manifesto (who actually I had had an album of since I was about 14 but I never really got, then heard one day and was like, "THIS IS AWESOME!!! HOW HAVE I NOT HEARD THIS BEFORE!!!). Other artists I discovered during this period were Plump DJ’s, Adam Freeland, Dave Clarke, Stanton Warriors, Uberzone, and Elite Force. About this time I also purchased my first set of turntables (a couple belt drive Gemini’s from a used music instrument store).
Then, at this point, my second most transformative and illuminating event in my musical journey occurred, while I was 17/18, when I purchased the Richard D James Album, by Aphex Twin. I forget exactly how I discovered Aphex Twin, but I imagine it was one of those “related titles”, or what have you while browsing the Orb and Orbital style music, as I’d often go through the DJ mix cd’s I had to discover more about the artists the the DJ’s would play.
While Fatboy Slim first introduced me to electronic, Aphex Twin summarily strapped me to a rocket and send me careening further down into darker and more intricate electronic music, and pushed me to eve more unknown areas. This album was most definitely the second most important album of my lifetime. He took the kinda stuff Fatboy Slim did, but laced it with acid and kicked it beyond the solar system.
Following this lead, I began exploring IDM, finding more artists that simply blew my mind and expectations of what music was and what music could be. Autechre, Squarepusher, and Boards of Canada. These artists helped to guide my own style of music, and pushed my music history to new unknown areas. I also began getting into jazz fusion, and other jazz, a la Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Medeski Martin and Wood, and others.
Since then, I’ve kinda explored IDM a bit more, and kinda branched out a bit to find other styles of music that were not electronic, and now I more often am exploring little known artists, buying singles and EP’s to try to explore more artists I haven’t heard. Notable finds include, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Exillon, Oneohtrix Point Never, Etch, the White Stripes, Global Goon, Blawan, Steve Moore, Phoenecia, Kettel. I’ve had a few finds that have really stood out. I definitely would like to explore more old school style breaks (even if it’s new), downtempo, and ambient artists.