Melbourne artist Emily Victoria shares her favourite artists with us. Emily recently released her stunning single ‘Memorise’, an ethereal indie pop stunner.
David Bowie is my favourite artist because his music and legacy inspired me to pursue music myself. I first discovered Bowie when I was 10, however I became more interested in his work when I went to a Symposium at ACMI in 2015. There were keynote speakers from all around the world, including a media professor called Will Brooker who was exploring all Bowie’s eras in the space of 12 months. I think the intensity of Bowie’s character and how he sustained this for so many years , as well as how he created so much mystery around what he does, has engaged me with his work for so long. There was an 8 month period of my life where I listened to Bowie records exclusively. I’d choose an album a week and listen to the album every day while walking around my neighbourhood trying to understand more about what he was doing. Now when I walk around my suburb, I still hear his voice echoing through the trees. His character has been one of my closest friends for years, and I’m not alone in saying this. It would be amazing to think that your work could comfort people like that. My favourite works of his are the Berlin Trilogy . I’ve visited Berlin twice searching for traces of Bowie in the city, at the Paris Bar and in the alleyways, however it was actually in Amsterdam that I had the most moving experience. It was 2018 and I was travelling with my friend and Bowie’s death was still a shock for everyone. A philharmonic orchestra hosted a Bowie evening in an old hall. A large group of people gathered in clusters in a hall filled with shadows. They played a lot of Berlin trilogy music this evening including Warszawa. This song captures the movement of life so beautifully – the pulsing drone throughout sounds like a heartbeat. At this particular point in time, it felt too soon to play such a raw piece of music from Bowie’s catalogue. The emotional response in the room was that people embraced each other in their heavy trench coats and softly wept. It was beautiful being there.
Warszawa – David Bowie
Move On – David Bowie
Station to Station – David Bowie
Stay – David Bowie
Wild is the Wind – David Bowie
Kate Bush who famously studied with Lindsey Kemp (Bowie was also a student of Kemp’s), is an artist who intrigues me for similar reasons to Bowie. Usually, I wouldn’t gravitate to such high pitched melodies that she often sings, however Bush is able to create great warmth even in her head voice. Throughout Covid I spent lots of time with my friend Charlotte Jowett who is a storyteller and visual artist. We created plays including Billy Goats Gruff and Hansel and Gretel for children via livestream in their living rooms. We would spend days together working on projects and share delicious dinners in the evening. She was the one who prompted me to delve further into Bush’s catalogue and listen to all her albums. Some of the music I composed for our plays were inspired by the bird sounds throughout Bush’s album Aerial. I think Aerial is a record about nature and cycles (which probably also inspired Memorise). No matter how high or low you feel, the sun continues to rise and the birds are always singing and it is sort of comforting to think about. Walking around barefoot when you feel lost is really grounding. A little while ago I lived with a yellow canary called Clara, a little lost bird that my mum found under her car . We would sing together all the time and when I was recording music there were always bird sounds in the background, and it just felt so right that we were singing together. I think this is what Bush feels with Aerial and her inclusion of bird sounds throughout. One of my favourite lyrics of all time is from Bush’s song Full House from the album Lionheart. The lyric is, driving back in her car, watching the wipers, squashing (I always heard washing) the leaves away, suddenly there in the road is your old self, trying to get out of the rain.
Full House – Kate Bush
In the Warm Room – Kate Bush
Prelude (Aerial) – Kate Bush
Symphony in Blue – Kate Bush
Bat For Lashes
An artist who produces extraordinarily beautiful work and spoke on a Kate Bush documentary about her intrigue with Bush’s Hounds of Love and specifically the track Waking the Witch is Bat For Lashes. When I was younger, I used to get up really early in the morning and watch Rage. One morning I saw Bat For Lashes’ track Laura. I remember thinking that the piano part in the track was one one of the most beautiful things I’d ever heard. The simplicity of the clip in a silent theatre with the two characters is so perfect for the song. It was around this time that Birdy’s People Help the People and Skinny Love became really famous and some great Kate Miller Heidke tracks were released also. I remember trying to learn the piano part for Laura and almost 10 years later I still listen to it and love it a lot. At uni I started an improvising quartet which included cello, guitar, harp and double bass. We played an experimental set at Revs with beats including Joni Mitchell and sea shanties and a piece that I wrote called Water Feature – a twenty page arrangement of dissonant sounds and a narrator that sounds somewhat hypnotised speaking about a water feature which I always imagined existing around Southbank. I also wrote a really sad tune called In the Opening inspired by David Sylvian’s album Brilliant Trees which is in my top five albums of all time for sure so I should probably talk about it next!!
Laura – Bat For Lashes
People Help the People – Birdy
Pirates of Penance – Joni Mitchell
David Sylvian, where to begin . . it goes back to the improv gig I was telling you about . After the show I met a musician and music producer named Simone White who later became a really great friend. That night he came up to me and asked if I’d heard of a band called Japan . . and then a few days later emailed me the track Red Guitar by David Sylvian (the lead singer of Japan). Absolutely in love I listened to the album . The album is called Brilliant Trees and there is not one bad track on that album. My dad and I love all the same music however he instantly dismissed this record as being something for people at Jazz school which I really can’t understand. There’s a Jazz influence for sure however the songwriting is just so amazing it’s not the first thing to come to mind. The moody melodies and then the outpouring of trumpet and improvised synths are perfect. The acoustic double bass reminds me of songs like Rollercoaster by Everything But the Girl . Brilliant Trees interestingly enough was also produced at Hansa in Berlin within a decade of the Berlin trilogy. I also love Mick Karn’s work – the bassist of Japan. Notable tracks to listen to are Weather The Windmill and Karn’s collaboration with Peter Murphy – Dalis Car , I love their track also called Dalis Car. Also you kinda have to mention Peter Murphy’s , Cuts You Up. Thank you Simone!!
Nostalgia – David Sylvian
Ink in the Well – David Sylvian
Red Guitar – David Sylvian
Pulling Punches – David Sylvian
Rollercoaster – Everything But The Girl
Weather the Windmill – Mick Karn
Dalis Car – Dalis Car
Madam Butterfly (Un Bel Di Vedremo) – Malcolm McLaren
Cuts You Up – Peter Murphy
Cocteau Twins is another artist to mention . I heard Cherry Coloured Funk when I was really young and it made me think of St Kilda instantly. St Kilda Music Festival was the event of the year where you could go to see bands if you weren’t 18 and I used to love going to see bands there and this band seemed like a great soundtrack for this. Elizabeth Fraser’s voice is out of this world. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I got into Cocteau Twins again because of my brother Hugo who is also a musician (he plays trumpet and piano, my other brother Oscar who is still at school is a trumpeter too) . We went on a holiday to Hobart together and stayed in some really incredible places including a small concrete barn overlooking Hobart. We spent most of the day reading, would go get a coffee and then go driving up Mount Wellington and listen to Cocteau Twins. Some really great memories . I was still on my P plates and remember driving to Port Arthur for a ghost tour and it was a 2.5 hour drive both ways and I didn’t have the stamina and Hugo played a mixture of The Doors and The Smiths which was a really bad idea to try and help me stay awake!! Anyway, Cocteau Twins are one of my favourite bands now for sure. I really love the album Milk & Kisses. This band definitely influenced Humming Heart and Memorise a lot.
Cherry Coloured Funk – Cocteau Twins
Know Who You Are At Every Age – Cocteau Twins
Serpentskirt – Cocteau Twins
For Love – Lush
Tiny Smiles – Lush