Spotify Landmark: Nas’ Illmatic

Spotify Landmark - our series documenting music’s greatest moments in the words of those who made them – is back. This time around, we bring you the ‘aural history’ of Nas’ Illmatic - considered by many to be one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. On the occasion of the album’s 20th anniversary reissue, Queens, NY native Nas, his producers and his A&R executive recount the making of this timeless gem.

Uncover the story behind this iconic album with Spotify Landmark here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Interview with Warpaint

Photo by Tonje Thilesen

Photo by Tonje Thilesen

When you think of Los Angeles, generally images of beaches, bikini’s, and the Hollywood elite come to mind.  Warpaint are the antidote to all of this. Based in LA, Warpaint are a unique force of four, delivering the deep, dark and mesmerizing sounds of swampy bass and ethereal vocal hooks. Having been on tour since their critically acclaimed debut album ‘ The Fool‘, Warpaint have returned this year with their self titled follow up. In writing and recording the album, members Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman, Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa, rented a house up in desert oasis of Joshua Tree National Park. There they continually jammed, which happened to result in a visit from the police as local residents had complained that music was making them nauseous. Of course, the offending (or brilliantly woozy) song, Disco // Very is on the album.

We had a quick chat with bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg about their influences and the what makes their music tick.

What music was playing in the house when you were growing up?

When I was a youngen’ there was a lot of Hall and Oates, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul, Madonna, lots of pop, and old school r&b/soul…
What was the first record you fell in love with?
The Cure ‘Staring At The Sea ‘.. it was the first album I loved absolutely every song..
 
Who made you want to make music?
Not any person really..I loved the feeling I felt whilst listening to music. I wanted to make music that made me feel like that!!
It was an experiment really,  and i fell instantly in love. The passion and inspiration that came along with writing music was like nothing I had ever experienced.
 
What were you listening to whilst recording?
Lots of us!!! hahaha. My ears were pretty spent at that point, anytime I could listen to nothing, I would relish in those moments..
 
What five records couldn’t you live without? hmmmmm.. off the top o my head..
D
epeche Mode ‘Violator’, Brian Eno ‘Another Green World’, Siouxie and the Banshees ‘Ju Ju’, Fleetwood Mac ‘Dreams’, and…. the best of The Beegees!!!  Also, my favorite are mix tapes made by friends, I love a collection of everything.
 
What are you listening to at the moment?
This internet radio station called Soma, its basically ambient noise, and is on a heavy rotation at my house everyday.

Does the perfect song exist?

Disco meets hardcore meets melody and harmony with some drone in there? S
omething with all of those ingredients and I think you would have a pretty damn good song!!!!
 
Finally, what’s your favourite noise?
I have always loved the sound of water running through a faucet. There’s something very soothing and noisey about it!! It sounds really good recorded as well!!!

Meet Peter – one of our community’s Rock Stars

Peter+Daniel(1)Have you ever wished you could reach out to an expert with questions about Spotify? The Spotify Community has your man.

A few months ago, we were incredibly happy to have our top community Super User, Peter Doggart from the UK, visit our headquarters in Stockholm. Peter alone is responsible for answering almost 30,000 questions for customers in our community! Peter received a tour of HQ, a day trip around Stockholm, and one-on-one time with Daniel, Martin and several top members of our organization. He was thrilled to be there and so appreciative of the opportunity to really get to know the Spotify team!

When asked why he helps out in the community so much here’s what he said:

What was the first time you came to the community like?

“I am almost certain I came to the community like the majority of current Spotify customers, looking for some help. Even now as a Super User, we need help with new features on occasion, but we are the lucky ones who can bug the staff team directly for answers! Whilst I was on the community myself, I noticed a topic from another community member which I could answer, so I did! The rest is history.”

Why did you keep participating in the community?

“I know music is an important part of peoples’ daily lives, knowing that I have helped someone overcome an issue which means they can enjoy their music, or anyone who says thank you for helping, those are the people who make me smile and make what I do worthwhile.”

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What was the best part of your journey to Stockholm?

“The best part of my trip was definitely meeting the people who live and breath Spotify. I have never been in an organization where I have seen so much passion and energy from the people before. It was really a dream come true to meet the founders of the company, as well as the product teams and of course to finally meet the wonderful community team I interact with daily. I feel like I am even more part of the Spotify family now!”

To find out more about how to contribute to the community and earn rewards, check out our new Spotify Rock Star Program.

 

Martin Garrix – The Spotify Interview

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Martin Garrix may be 17 years old, but the Dutch DJ is not lacking in experience. He’s been producing since he was eight years old, yes… age eight, and has been in the international spotlight since signing to seminal electronic label Spinnin’ Records in 2012. Since, highlights include being officially asked by Christina Aguileira to remix her track, “Your Body,” as well as producing a number one song in three different countries, in addition to huge amount of top tens, with his hit, “Animals.” Martin came by Spotify’s New York City office to talk about his earliest roots in electronic music, what his current listening habits are, and what his sound is progressing towards.

Martin has always been musical. He grew up playing classical Spanish guitar from the age of four. It wasn’t until he heard Tiesto’s monster track, “Traffic”, that he knew electronic music was for him. “It was on his album Parade of the Athletes and was played at the [2004] Olympics. I saw that and just had to buy the album and other electronic albums and compilations. But “Traffic” really drew me in because the melody is really simple and minimalistic, but the track has so much power and feeling to it. It’s just really, really great.”

We all have to unwind, right? So does Martin, he just has to do it in between jetting around the world for shows or intense days in the studio. “Sometimes I’ll stay for the after party, but usually I’m immediately going to the hotel or wherever to get some rest and recharge for the next show. After a long day in the studio I love to just chill out with family and friends… Flume’s remix of Disclosure’s “You & Me” is probably my favorite track to just relax to.”

You know when there’s that one track you can’t get out of your head? Well, the Dutch DJ usually has a few. “Picking one is hard, there are a lot of songs going on up there [laughs]. I really like “Aztec” by Julian Jordan. It has a catchy melody, and without noticing it I sometimes whisper the melody. I really like the track.” We asked Martin to pick one thing outside of his genre that he’s been into lately. “Once again, I’d have to say that album by Flume. His stuff is really refreshing. Yeah, it’s crazy. I really love that album.”

The best producers tend to have certain recognizable sounds, we wondered if Martin had any that he thought were unique to him. “I really like to work with that super plucky percussion sound [he mimics it by flicking his cheek with his mouth open, then quickly laughs]. But honestly, I’m trying to get away from it – I’m a little tired of it now. I used it in “Animals”, I used it in “Wizard”, I used a kind of similar sound in my remix for “Project T.” I’m looking for a different sound to start working with more. But I really like to work with just… silence. But with big sounds on top. The more trance-y kind of sounds, which you’ll hear in my new stuff.“

Martin Garrix’s brand new track, “Wizard”, was just released this week on Spotify. You can hear that, and more of Martin’s picks, in his Favorites playlist here.

 

Our Interview with Daria van den Bercken

Daria van den Bercken
 
“I’m not interested in changing the music, just, sometimes, the context…”

Dutch/Russian classical pianist – and Eddie Izzard fan – Daria van den Bercken recently performed a series of pieces by Handel while being towed by a car around Amsterdam. Last year she appeared at the Virada Cultural festival in São Paulo, Brazil where she played 25 meters above the ground – at midnight – and gave a highly entertaining TED Talk about the power of music, so, as you can imagine, when Daria came into record a Spotify Session in Amsterdam there were a few things we wanted to ask her,

Why is Handel so important to you?
There is a relationship here – some music just fits you and Handel fitted me perfectly. His music is energetic, it has melancholy and energy, and it always has a positive undercurrent. You can feel each small pain and wish. I like those contrasts and I enjoy the physicality of playing it. But also Handel is kind of underplayed. Beethoven and Mozart are both played a lot, so there is a whole world of information you have as a musician with all the different interpretations of their music. With Handel, it was just me and the music, because there’s a lot less baggage, a lot less perfomance history. The crucial thing is to spread the music, it’s not about stunts.

Unless they’re super exciting.
Well, yes. An Italian promoter has already offered me twenty shows flying over crowds, but I don’t want to become The Flying Piano Lady. I don’t want to be a gimmick.

How did you begin playing music?
I guess my parents noticed how I loved music, so I started piano when I was six and began to sing in a choir at seven. My parents always had music playing in the house too. I’m half Russian, so we had a lot of Soviet records! I remember going to concerts and hearing a piano concerto and being totally swept up by it. I wasn’t a ‘Wunderkind’, I learned many things gradually and over time. I had time to think about it and I worked hard. So I had a talent, but I wasn’t a prodigy.

In your TED talk you touch on that constant state of wonder that kids have. Are these events your way of trying to reinstill that sense of wonder in adults?
Exactly. I wanted to reach out and catch people unexpectedly! I played at a bank the other day – they don’t usually do that kind of thing, but I know a lot of people would not normally listen to the music I love, so I wanted to reach out to them, take the music to where they are?

Does the perfect piece of music exist?
I love that question! I’d have to think about it. Beethoven wrote some music that was so weird and gripping that it could have been written fifty or a hundred years from now. There is a piano sonata, Opus 101, that goes beyond anything you’ve ever heard before. I don’t understand it, but I love it. True art reaches forward. Radiohead have almost done that, I think a lot of their music is for later generations, maybe we don’t understand all of it yet.

Finally – crucially – what’s your favourite noise?
Oh, it’s one combined with smell. You can hear people mowing their grass, then you get the scent and that for me is the best. Then it goes silent and you’re left with only the scent. But I also love one beautiful chord being followed by another one – my internal strings are definitely struck by that!

 

Jake Bugg – The Spotify Interview

Jake-Bugg-730

Jake Bugg has taken the UK by storm. At 19 years old, he is the youngest male solo artist ever to reach the top of the album charts! He’s now released his second album and is ready to take over the rest of the world. We met up with him and spoke about the new album, his influences, and what matters most in his life.

Charismatic, retro-inspired talent Jake Bugg has not only been nominated for the Mercury Prize for Album of the Year and Q Award for Best Solo Artist, he’s now won the Q Award for Best New Act and is quickly becoming a favorite of elite musicians and legends including Noel Gallagher, Lily Allen, Damon Albarn, Chris Martin, and Elton John. Jake just finished a European tour and released his second album, Shangri La, on which he collaborated with the legendary super producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, AC/DC, Johnny Cash).

JB: It’s been going ok. I’ve played many shows much bigger than I’ve ever played before; that was fun. We’ll see how this album goes. I’m quite, a little bit, apprehensive about how it’s going to be received, but excited at the same time.

Shangri La is named after Rick Rubin’s studio in Malibu, Los Angeles, where the 19-year-old singer-songwriter recorded the album. Rubin produced the album, and it features Jason Lader on bass, Matt Sweeney on guitar, and Pete Thomas on drums.

JB: It was great to work with Rick! He’s a very nice man. I didn’t really know of his work before, so I wasn’t like in awe. I just went and met him for the person that he is. He’s a very nice guy, very relaxed. The place that we recorded the album was very relaxed too, Zuma beach. I didn’t want to leave to be honest. I was there for two weeks and I heard that’s the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place for the last two years. So it was like a holiday for me, recording this album. It was pretty nice; the purple sky when the sun’s going down and then some lemon trees growing around –very beautiful. It was like a dream.

Influences
Jake’s main influences as a songwriter are Layne Staley, The Beatles, OasisDonovan, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, and Nick Drake. This influence from older artists really shines through in his music. At home, Jake has a lot of old guitars – including a particularly special 60-year-old guitar that he bought in Nashville, Tennessee.

JB: It was something that I wanted for ages, but I never thought I’d earn such a thing. It’s quite a rare guitar, but I’m very happy that I own it. I own quite a lot of guitars… I probably have about 20.

Yes I Do
This year, Jake played the Glastonbury Festival, not once but twice. First on a main stage and then a smaller, more intimate gig on an acoustic-only stage. One of the songs he played that day was “Saffron,” an old song that he wrote when he was about 15 years old. About halfway through, he noticed that something was going on in the crowd…

JB: I saw a lot of people start looking at this woman. Then this guy stood up and she hugged him and he proposed to her. He asked her to marry him in the middle of my song. So, halfway through the song I said congratulations. That’s very nice, but if I were going to propose, I wouldn’t do it at a Jake Bugg gig.

Behind the Spotlight
Jake grew up in Nottingham, about two hours away from London. Currently, the young artist is without an official home base. London would be the obvious choice, but he’s also considering somewhere like Paris or Stockholm. Jake left home when he was 17, so wherever he settles will be the first place he’d live since then. Despite his rapid success and seemingly constant touring, Jake seems to be a surprisingly pleasant and down to earth person. He describes himself as quite cynical, about music and a lot of things.

JB: I think I spend too much time trying to work out everybody else’s personalities. Because I’m very grateful of what I have, I think I can also be quite generous at times as well. I just had my best friend with me on the tour bus for the UK tour, that was quite nice. I think it’s all about the people that you surround yourself with. If you start getting a big head or, you know, they’ll tell you… it’s good.

The thing Jake values most in life is his family, his friends, all the people that he loves, and, of course, the music.

JB: If I wasn’t doing this, I don’t know what else I’d be doing. It’s kind of all that I have.

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The Naked And Famous: The Spotify Interview

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The much hyped alternative rockband from New Zealand, The Naked And Famous, have recently released their second studio album, In Rolling Waves. TNAF just began their European tour, which will continue until the 15th of March, 2014. We had the pleasure of meeting with its two impressive vocalists, Thom and Alisia, on their first night of the tour, in Stockholm.

When Thom and Alisa met in 2006 at a music college in Auckland, New Zealand, they formed a songwriting partnership right away, which would become the life force of TNAF. Aron, who also studied at the music collage, soon became a production foil to the duo. Today, he’s the synth player. Actually, all of the boys in the band sort of knew each other from high school. Bassist David and drummer Jesse came on board as full band members in 2009. We asked them how they came up with their amazing band-name, The Naked And Famous.

- We stole it from Tricky! He was part of the Trip Hop scene in the early 90’s. I think he’s from Bristol. He was just someone I really liked, growing up listening to him through high school. He was one of my immediate frames of references as far as music. So I thought, maybe I’ll steal a name, like a verse or a title from something that I really like. That line, “naked and famous,” stuck out to me. It’s from one of his songs called “Tricky Kid,” and at the time it just seamed obviously ironic for us cause we were just a small indie band with small and realistic ambitious. As time has gone on though, I think it’s given it more meaning because we are now a global band and it’s important that, as we’re becoming more well-known, it does still remain ironic. Cause it is kind of trivial and silly, Thom explains.

The Sound
Some people like to describe TNAF as an electronic pop band. Though, that’s not how they would describe their sound themselves. They somehow got lumped into a synth-pop label that has been quite prevalent in the last 4 years.

- I like to call it alternative rock music. That’s the most broad and simple genre. It says enough. I think synth-pop is a very single-oriented terminology that was given to us, just based on our most popular songs on the radio. So, we kind of battled that, but now it’s really dissipated and we’re just seen as a rock group, which is nice. It’s been validating to not still be just part of a little time. There’s been a little bit of an evolution with the music, says Thom.

TNAF started as a very low-fi kind of project. They were a four-piece band to begin with, because Aron wasn’t even in the band when they first started. He was just helping them by engineering recordings and producing. They hadn’t really found an instrument for him to play, but he slowly developed that over time with the music software that he used to play live. There has been a lot of progress in the band’s sound since they first started off.

- This is my first band, so I never really knew how to use my voice properly. This band was my first serious go at writing songs. So, for me if I look at the recordings of the songs from our first EP, to where I’ve ended up on In Rolling Waves, it’s actually quite a development. You can hear it and you can see it. We’ve all been growing as musicians over the years, that’s great, Alisia says.

Who’s the Boss? 
- Thom is the boss, Alisia answers quickly without a single doubt.

- Yea, I naturally am in the position. I’ve always been a very pro-active person, wanting to make things happen for myself and wanting to achieve my desires, my goals. I find myself being interested in being pro-active. I like making things happen for myself. I like making my visions and my desires come to life. That puts you in a position of being in control over things, Thom says.

I asked them if they ever fight with each other, and Thom answers that they fight all the time. He said that there’s a lot of tension within the group, but at the same time they’re all very, very good friends and it’s a healthy, natural part of always functioning as an adult.

- And that’s proof that you are good friends because you can fight, and you can say things. There’s bound to be tension if you’re working with a group of people that are all very passionate about what they do, Alisia says with a smile.

Keeping Dreams Alive
The band released their album In Rolling Waves on the 16th of September. Alisia explained that they learned so much from the pursuit of their previous album, Passive Me, Aggressive You, that when it came to creating In Rolling Waves, they just took everything that they had learned, everything that they knew, and just built on top of that. I asked them if there were any songs off the new album that they are particularly proud of.

- For me, up until this point, just having released and finished In Rolling Waves, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and achievement. That’s the type of band that we want to be, we want to create bodies of work and we want to continue to make more albums. That we have our second one out is just so satisfying. The whole album is a favorite for me, says Alisia.

- I feel very much the same, it’s like a collective. They’re all like chapters in a book. It’s hard to just pick one, even though they do stand alone as singular songs. It’s too close to the whole process to have a favorite. The last album was such an eclectic experience. Making a record and being in a band is such a huge achievement. That was really one of the biggest factors for wanting to do the second record, having achieved our dream and then wanting to keep it alive, Thom says.

Presenting “According to Anders Fridén” – lead singer of In Flames

Spotify proudly announces a new collaboration with Anders Fridén, lead singer of the world renowned metal band In Flames. On October 30th, Anders will launch his own playlist, “According To,” exclusively on Spotify and also start writing columns for our blog. We asked him to explain a bit more about the project.

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Hi Anders! What’s this about?

Simply a way for me to share damn good music. I’m a big consumer of all sorts of music, and I myself love to get tips on something new or something that I’ve I missed.

What kind of songs will end up on your playlist?

I think I will focus on rock/metal, but I may also slip in other genres when I get the feeling. That happens a lot.

You will also write columns on the Spotify blog, what will those be about?

I do not know yet, haha! I shoot from the hip. They will obviously revolve around music: how I got where I am today and what life was like when I was naive and didn’t have to think about what was right and wrong. I probably can’t keep myself from writing about beer, whiskey, food and all that other stuff that makes life feel a little easier sometimes.

What’s happening with In Flames in the near future?

Right now we are writing new hit songs, and we will soon enter the studio to make album number eleven…. Number eleven! Holy shit!

What is your favorite song right now and why?

My label Razzia Notes released the debut album from a band called Dead Soul. There are a lot of amazing songs, but one that stands out for me right now is the song Dead Soul – Kill the Past. As a lyricist, I love when the lyrics marry well with the music, and in this case, such great lyrics! Dark and beautiful.

OK Spotifiers…. October 30th, save the date!

We’ll be launching this feature, “According To,” with Anders Fridén! You will find Anders’ playlist and column on our blog.

 

Our Interview with Jordie Lane

Jordie Lane

Singer songwriter Jordie Lane, is an interesting character. His Facebook page at one point, described his unhealthy penchant for photographing himself with dogs he meets on the street. This is not entirely surprising, considering he grew up in a traveling circus. Quirkyness aside, Jordie Lane is a talented artist, beginning with the ukulele at age 4, moving on to the electric guitar at 9 and finally the acoustic guitar after high school. Lane’s upbringing  has allowed him to come into his own distinctive sound, touching on folk, blues and Americana. Releasing his first album in 2009 to rave reviews, Lane has now released his latest EP Not Built To Last. We got the chance to interview Lane about his musical influences, check it out below. 
 
What music was playing in the house when you were growing up?

Well, my parents didn’t have a stereo till I was about 6. I remember, when they did get it they decided to just get the Tape deck and Turntable, but i do remember cd’s were just starting. They had Joni Mitchell‘s Blue, and The Beatles “Abbey Road”, and Stevie Wonder‘s Inervisions.

What was the first record you fell in love with?
It was Crowded House‘s Woodface which was one my parents bought on cassette. Damn I loved that album, and still do.

Who made you want to make music?
It was my best friends in school. They had this crazy idea that we could be rock’n’roll stars, so we started a band when we were 11. The other two had so much more musical knowledge at that time, and I just loved all this music they were showing me for the first time.

What were you listening to whilst recording?
This time round we had Daft Punk‘s latest playing a lot in breaks between tracking, which was a nice juxtaposition to what we were making. Although it somehow made a slight influence on my country songs in a way.

What five records couldn’t you live without?
Jimi HendrixAxis Bold As Love
Ryan AdamsHeartbreaker
The Beatles – Revolver
Gillian Welch –  Time (The Revelator)
Guy Clark – Old No. 1

What are you listening to at the moment?
Right at this very moment…Lorde‘s The Love Club EP and about to listen to “Pure Heroine“. I am so excited about some of the music that is reaching the top of the charts in recent times. That is a very select few mind you, but nonetheless, a few years ago, I couldn’t say this at all. Praise the Lorde, for getting me through a long tour right now!!

Does the perfect song exist?
NO

Finally, what’s your favourite noise?
Sirens in New York

 

Our Interview with Alex Lloyd

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After spending 5 years in London, Sydney native, Alex Lloyd is finally returning to Australia with a brand new album, Urban Wilderness, out today! 

“Creatively there’s loads there to be inspired by, and of course the people who came before you too. In the UK music is just as highly regarded as sport – I found it an amazing place to be a songwriter” Lloyd says of his time in London. “Just before coming home I was a bit in the wilderness – that’s where the title comes from, not knowing what the  *uck you want to do” says Lloyd.  We got the chance to catchup with Alex Lloyd, see our interview below.

What music was playing in the house when you were growing up?

Loads of different stuff but what I remember most as a kid is falling asleep to the sounds of adults talking and drinking with Bob Dylan or Rodriguez in the background. Also my mother used to paint to Mozart, Vivaldi and Bach and my dad had the Beatles Box set and a solid collection of Led Zeppelin Records, I had a lot to choose from.

What was the first record you fell in love with?

The first Album I truly loved was an old blues record by a guy called Muddy Waters. I don’t have it any more but I think it was called ‘Rare and Unissued‘. I spun it until it would not spin any more and I think it got warped by the sun.

Who made you want to make music?

This List would be a mile long – Muddy Waters, Elvis Presley and Costello, John Paul Jones, Simon and Garfunkel too name but a few.

What were you listening to whilst recording?

I don’t tend to listen much music when I making a record. I like to try and stay true to what I’m creating and as pure as possible

What five records couldn’t you live without?

Another tough one..

The Best of Simon and Garfunkel

The Best of the Police

Black Keys – Brothers 

Beck – Odelay

Neil Young - Harvest

What are you listening to at the moment?

I really like Pure Heroine by LORDE

Does the perfect song exist?

I believe there are loads of them ..

Finally, what’s your favourite noise?

THE OCEAN AT NIGHT

Check out Urban Wilderness , out today!