1. The Smashing Pumpkins | Starla
I first heard this song around 1994 in High School in the suburbs of North Phoenix, Arizona. I was surrounded by drug abuse, gangs and Heavy Metal. I learned to play Pantera and Metallica songs on the guitar to fit in with strange aggression that was all around me. Smashing Pumpkins showed me that it was okay to feel other things than Aggression. I think I had a lot of pent up anger from growing up around Addiction. This song showed me some of the sadness beneath that anger. I also could see a very futuristic vision of the World when I listened to them. It was the best feeling, kind of like floating. It felt better than any drug when the heavy guitars kicked in toward the end of that song.
2. Underworld | Juanita : Kiteless : To Dream Of Love
I heard this song in my first car. It was a light brown, 1985 Volvo 240 which I had installed Blaupunkt speakers and a subwoofer. It sounded pretty good considering the license plate would rattle with the bass. I remember hearing it on a long stretch of highway near Piestewa Peak in Phoenix. The orange sunset seemed like a shot straight out of The NeverEnding Story.The way the melody slowly works its way in is kind of like a mediation. A longing to fly into the sunset on some mythical dragon. It gave me a feeling of longing and being fulfilled all at once. I have since attributed it to the Buddhist heart of Sadness, which feels like the embodiment of Melancholy. Such a lovely place.
3. Björk | Isobel
I finally accepted how odd I was by the time I heard this song. Probably sometime in 1997. I began to make Art and create Electronic Music. This song embraced the beautiful sound of Solitude. It is something about being okay with Loneliness, embracing it actually. Being an only child I learned to retreat into my own fantastical world. This song was like a beautiful palace in that world. It lifted me up no matter what I was doing. It was luxurious and mysterious. I wished I could sing like Björk and fly on top of those string melodies. That was such an innovative time in Electronic Music. It seemed that any combination of things was possible. I would go back in Time just to experience that song again for the first time.
4. Soul Coughing | Screenwriter's Blues
This song takes me back to a time before I was born. I've had a vision of being alive in the 1940's. I was at a baseball stadium under smokey lights and everything seemed amber. Something about the main sample in this song takes me back there. The lyrics rang true for me as well. Being the grandson of Dick Van Dyke, and growing up in a family of musicians and performers, I always felt so polarized. I grew up in a lower class neighborhood in North Phoenix, isolated from the glamour that the rest of my family knew. We didn't have much money either, so the Hollywood scene seemed like such a farce. The Movie business seemed to glamorize all the wrong things. This left me feeling disenchanted by the Movie business. A sentiment which I feel is accurately depicted in the song. I also just love the production on all the Soul Coughing stuff. I really started to get into sampling at lyrics at this point.
5. Led Zeppelin | Ramble On
This song has amazing hooks at every millisecond. Every single element of this song is memorable. From the bass line to the sustained guitar melodies in the verse. I love pretty much all of Led Zeppelin, although I'm less attached to Dark Blues stuff. There is something about the Druid/British Isles vibes that I love. It makes me feel like a wizard. Maybe this led me to become interested in Druidry, which I still dabble in today. Pre-Christian European traditions. I was always very sensitive to the Native American presence in Arizona, which eventually led me to investigate where my pre-Christian traditions come from. I'm intuitively attracted to Druidry and Paganism for these reasons.
6. Screeching Weasel | Hey Suburbia
I think I heard this song in 1994. I had taken on the persona of a freak at the troublesome High School of Paradise Valley. I wasn't good at sports, I hated School, and I was a ginger so I had a hard time fitting in. I found this group of rebellious Punk rockers to play guitar with. Luckily, I could kind of shred. That was such a rebellious time. There were some addiction issues going on at home and lots of tough kids at School. I was lucky to find my new friends. It came with a price though. I also discovered drugs and alcohol. We were very bad, sleeping in parks, smoking meth, and breaking into houses. At the end of the day I felt so alienated in that culture that I just wanted to fuck shit up. We would flatten the tires of tractors or break car windows. We hated it there. It was a dangerous situation. Luckily I ended up transferring to a Charter Arts High School in another part of town. In a way, I think this move saved my life. A lot of my old friend from North Phoenix ended up dying or going to prison. They also found Heroin which I am grateful to have never touched. I pretty much stopped doing drugs at that point. I realized we used them to escape. This song reflects this struggle for me. I would love to go back to this community some day and help out. Build a Music venue or something. For a lot of those kids up there it's hopeless.
7. Squarepusher | Port Rhombus
Finally, I found Electronic Music. This was a revolution in my perception of the World. Suddenly all sounds became accessible. I didn't need a huge recording studio to make a masterpiece. Computer Music became my world around this time. I enrolled in a Recording School and learned the ins and outs of signal flow. I still rebelled because I wanted to make Art rather than a steady living. I refused to record other people's bad Music. I became kind of elitist (undeservedly). This led me to a bunch of cool opportunities though. About this time I started working for Coppé at Mango and Sweet Rice Records. I was living the dream, creating Experimental Electronic Music day and night. There is something about this song that is still so cold and beautiful. The melody and programming is like a hopeful yet sad overstimulation. It resonated with my World view at that time.
8. Brian Eno | 1/1 (From Ambient 1 (Music For Airports))
I first heard this song while staying at a friend's cabin in Prescott, Arizona. I remember seeing the dust particles gently float through the air beneath the skylight. I was very dedicated to my meditation at this point in my life. Probably once of the most peaceful times I have experienced. Eno's piano melody sank into my consciousness, reflecting the stillness I felt inside. I still go back to this song on a regular basis to reconnect. I think this is one of the most important pieces of Music in modern times.
9. Radiohead | Airbag
The first time I heard OK Computer it changed everything. I think that was the only record that I had to listen through about 3 times in a row without stopping. It reflected the discontent and beauty I felt. It was so wrong and abrasive, as well as hopelessly hopeful. It was like watching the end of the World and smiling. It also showed me that you can play Rock Music and Electronic Music at the same time. OK Computer is still my second favorite record of all time, next to Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream, followed by Underworld's Second Toughest In The Infants. Not a lot of artists make great albums anymore. I miss listening to 10-12 songs through. The peaks and valleys of a great record are my favorite.
10. The Acid | Animal
Jumping ahead to fairly recent times, this song is so beautiful and sparse. Very Minimal elements come together in such an eloquent way. This recent trend towards Minimal production opens up the possibility for stringing together a few well constructed parts to create something devastatingly empty. I love how desperate it makes me feel, so lonely. There's not much Hope here, which rings true in general. It seems post-apocalyptic. We've done the damage, now we watch our demise.
+11. FKA twigs | Two Weeks
This song is the embodiment of Longing and Sexual Attraction for me. Another desperate and vacant Minimal expression of Lust. So much Passion coming from a fairly dark place. This song feels like being in the sheets with your lover. Clinching and grabbing, in a dim space. I love the crunchy production too. The percussion references traditional drum machines, but it's all been tweaked and distorted. Beautiful.
+12. Imogen Heap | Hide And Seek
I still have a tough time with this song. I was lucky enough to meet Imogen after this song came out, I did a remix for her, then we toured together. This song is so sensual and luscious. I was madly in love with her. Then she came on to me. It was so weird to live that part of your passion for a second. I was performing as Back Ted N-Ted at the time of the affair. I had some pretty decent things going on in my career. After a few months things got weird and she fired me. This pretty much ruined my career. I lost my publishing advance and a tour. I had to stop making Music and performing for a long time. I ended up working in restaurants again. After touring the World and making an album, this was very difficult. It fucked my shit up pretty bad, so when I hear that song it bums me out. I hate how good/popular it is. I never really recovered professionally. That was the hardest thing I've been through to this point.