Pitchfork.com does a feature on their website called “5-10-15-20” where an artist talks about what they were listening to and influenced by during different ages in their life starting with age 5, than age 10 and so on. I thought it would be fun to do it myself.
Age 5 – Miami Vice Theme Song
My parents used to have a cassette tape to the soundtrack of Miami Vice, the TV show. It was very 80s – synthesizers, heavy reverb on the drums, epic guitar solos, etc. Very cheesy. It sounded like video game music, which is probably why I liked it.
Age 10 – Beethoven: “Ode to Joy”
I was really into classical music at this point. The first CD I bought was Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which I was mostly interested because of the big “Ode to Joy” section (which I had heard in cartoons and advertisements). I used to pretend I was Beethoven conducting a big orchestra. By now, I had taken a few years of piano lessons and started playing violin in the school orchestra.
Age 15 – Radiohead: “Karma Police”
By this time, I had been into alternative rock music for a few years. Around 12, I watched the “Beatles Anthology” special on TV, which started my Beatles obsession (which continues to this day). I bought a cheap guitar for the sole purpose of learning Beatles songs. Later, I got into Oasis (because they sounded like the Beatles) and being from the Seattle area, I couldn’t help being influenced by the aftermath of grunge (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden). At age 14, I started writing my first songs on piano and guitar and started my first band. By age 15, I was into Radiohead, especially the album “OK Computer.” It was rock music but it was smart and artsy. It was new and fresh but also had a hint of Pink Floyd and the Beatles. I loved the song “Karma Police.” Later in high school, I was introduced to emo and indie rock music (Sunny Day Real Estate, Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, Pedro the Lion, and Death Cab For Cutie), which had a huge influence on the type of music my band wrote and played.
Age 20 – Debussy: “Clair De Lune”
When I was 20, I was in the middle of serving for 2 years as a missionary in New York City. We weren’t allowed to listen to rock music so I got re-acquainted with lots of classical music, particularly Debussy (I love “Clair De Lune”), Chopin, Schubert and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. On our days off, I still played piano and wrote my songs. Occasionally, we’d have dinner with a member of the congregation that had a guitar so I got jam.
Age 25 – Fleet Foxes: “White Winter Hymnal” After my mission, I continued playing music influenced by the indie rock bands I was into during high school, as well as discovering some new artists: Arcade Fire, Memomena, The Decemberists and Vampire Weekend. By age 25, my band mates from Declaration had graduated college and moved away so we called it quits. I was looking for some new sounds and came across the Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal,” which reminded me of my parents CSNY record. I loved harmonies and simplicity. It was upbeat without feeling fake. I was also digging deeper into Wilco, particularly their album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”. Inspired by these sounds and wanting to do something interesting with all the acoustic songs I had kicking around, Adding Machines was born.
Age 30 – The Dodos: “Black Night”
A few years ago, I turned 30. I’ve been a heavy Spotify user the last couple years and find myself listening to a greater variety than I ever have. I pay more attention to new releases coming out and also dig through entire catalogs of classic artists. Some of my recent favorites are Elvis Costello, Beach House, The Dodos, Father John Misty, Kishi Bashi, and Ben Sollee. In many ways, I’m rediscovering what I want to do musically and the possibilities are exciting.