May Beats presented by @thursplay


Here’s what you’ll listen to on this April Beats by our friends at @thursplay :

Starting off on this May Beats by @thursplay [2013] listen to Lana Del Rey’s new single “Young and Beautiful” and let’s all agree: yes, she still got it! Also with new music is Swedish electronic duo The Knife, listen to “Without You My Life Would Be Boring” from their latest album “Shaking the Habitual”. Next, enjoy Dublin-based Irish quartet Kodaline with “High Hopes”, followed by Swedish musician Big Fox with her new single “Girls”.

It gets better: listen to STRFKR groovy song “Malmo”, Daft Punk feat. Julian Casablancas with “Instant Crush”, new song by Camera Obscura “Do it Again”, This is Head with “Time’s an Ocean”, American group Haim with their new single “Falling” and British singer-songwriter Dan Croll with “Compliment Your Soul”.

Still on this playlist: Lord Huron, Synne Sanden, Walk the Moon, and Still Corners!

What were your favorite releases during May?

Share them with us today on Twitter using the hashtag #thursplay.

Our Interview with Lorde

“Someone put a dozen sausages down their throat, just inserted them right down their throat!”

16-year-old Ella Yelich-O’Connor picks up the phone in her studio on the North Shore of New Zealand just moments after she has just released the music video for Royals into the world.

“It was only a few minutes ago,” she says, “so I’ve just tuned into the social networks, perusing things. I’m sitting here fretting about it all, but, so far, people have said really nice things.”

Ella should be getting used to people doing that. Her first EP, Love Club, went straight to Number One in New Zealand and was picked up on and praised by everyone from Grimes to Sky Ferreira. Influenced by James Blake, Lana Del Ray, Lou Reed, Burial, Bon Iver and Drake, Lorde is, clearly, already, a phenomenal talent – as for what’s next, she’s working towards an album and another new music video, for Tennis Court, a song about the town where she grew up and the friends she would (will) hang out all summer.

“We’re still doing the things that we’ve always done,” she says. “But this song tries to capture what’s happened to me in the past couple of months. Things are changing so fast…”

Tell me a bit about where you grew up.

I grew up mostly in a part of Auckland called the North Shore. It’s basically suburbs, and there isn’t really a lot to do. You have to catch a boat if you want to go into the city, so we all kick around and everyone rides bikes everywhere because no one can drive! There’s lots of finding underpasses and tennis courts and places that we make our own! And a lot of house parties…

What would happen at a house party on the North Shore?

Oh my God! I don’t know. I feel like my friends would kill me if I told you! Well, there’s some pretty inventive like games and dares that happen. Many involve eating strange things – like someone put a dozen sausages down their throat, just inserted right down their throat. I said, “I don’t even know what’s happening right now, so I’m just going to go with it”.

I’m hoping they were cooked.

They were definitely cooked. No one’s that intense.

What would I be hearing there?

People are pretty into TNGHT and Hudson Mohawke, so they would definitely be playing. Fantastic Mr Fox too, maybe a bit of James Blake. We listen to pretty good music! My friends have great music taste, and we kind of toss things around. I do find a lot of new music on Spotify.

That’s lovely, I didn’t even prompt you!

I’m just trying to be honest!

Who have you picked up on recently?

I’ve got into this guy called Deptford Goth, who I think is amazing.

That album has been a huge office favourite.

Yeah, I think that’s fantastic. I love Majical Cloudz too and I’m just getting into Prince. Prince is rad!

Tell me about the music that you grew up around, first music you were aware of playing in the house.

My dad’s always listened to Neil Young and lots of soul music like Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald. As a young kid my parents seemed to have about eight or ten albums that they had on constant rotation – there was a definite adult contemporary vibe, a lot of David Gray, although I shed that quite fast!

What was the first music that felt like it was all yours?

Ha! I think every young person has a moment where they listen to music that is completely unlike anything their parents would ever listen to and for me that was Animal Collective. I remember thinking, “This is fantastic, Dad hates it!” I never knew music could be like that – so frenetic, but so much fun. Their album Merriweather Post Pavilion was a huge thing for me aged 12 or 13.

By that age you were already writing your own songs?

Yeah, I was. It was all pretty tentative. I’d always been writing – as a child it was short stories – but later I made the transition to writing songs. My mum’s a poet, so I never wrote any poetry, I left that to her! When I was 12 I entered this talent show at school. I sung and a friend played guitar – we did Warwick Avenue by Duffy, which was a big song for us back in the day – and we won. I’m pretty proud of that, to be honest. Somehow, the video of our performance got to Universal and we began talking. It’s strange as I feel like so many musicians have a half-decade or a decade of toil and albums that weren’t picked up or whatever, and I almost feel like that I need to have that to be a real musician, to have that suffering. But I was young and looking for an outlet, so I just grabbed my chance.

What sort of songs were you writing then?

One of the earliest songs I was about a girl in my year that took to drugs and went off the rails – it was kind of like a diss track. I wasn’t happy that she was letting down our year group in that way, she gave us a bad name. I also wrote a song about how I slipped on some rocks in the middle of winter and almost drowned. They were often these sort of strange, melodramatic pieces. But then I was only 13!

Your Love Club EP is a pretty startling collection – there’s a lot of strong emotion in there.

Ha! Yeah, well, that was the time they were written. The title song is about a group of friends that I fell in with that sort of took over my life for a bit. Mid-way through last year I found a group like that and stopped going home so much, stopped caring about the friends that I had when I was young. I mean, this club was awesome – when you’re in it everything feels so perfect – but it quickly became quite intense. Eventually I realised that family and old friends are the way to go sometimes.

There’s a great line in Bravado where you sing, “I was raised up to be admired, to be noticed…”

You see, I’d been listening to Kanye West and there’s a track called Dark Fantasy where he says, “we found bravery in my bravado” and I liked that idea of false confidence delivering real confidence. In reality I’m a super-shy, contained, non-confrontational person, but I was about to step into a line of work – a line of art – where everyone would be watching me, and everyone would want to talk to me and confront me. That song is me coming to terms with having to be a public person.

Does it worry you, having to deliver these very personal pieces to, basically, everybody in the world?

Right now it feels very strange, because my music is very anecdotal – there are hyper-real, hyper-personal details in all my songs. Often I’ll play one to a friend and they’ll say “Oh my God, that was about the night this happened, I spilled that drink on you and now you’ve written a song about it!” Some guy emailed me about the Love Club and said, “This song totally resonated with me”, and that was awesome, the idea that someone else could pin their life to something which was so personal to me.

Royals really takes on that whole over-consumption culture…

You see, at that time I’d been listening to a lot of Lana Del Ray and a lot of A$AP Rocky – because I love rap, that crazy money and opulence and extravagance. But I also know it’s all total bullshit, you know!

Do you think the perfect song exists?

Oh, well, the first thing that came into my head was a Lou Reed track, something like Perfect Day or Heroin – they’re both close to perfect because they have this complete honesty, which sounds clichéd, but Lou Reed is putting his entire soul on the line here, that’s something everyone can relate to. Everyone likes honesty that almost makes you cringe a little bit; Lou Reed taught me that unflinching honesty is a very powerful tool in song writing.

There’s a theory that musicians really ought to be writing music for the future, does that seem sensible to you?

Ooh, yeah! Artists should write like that, but not enough do – half of the crap on the radio these days is too worried about what’s current. Right now I’m listening to this band called The Replacements – they’re from the ’80s or something – and half the songs make me think, “God, I should cover this!”

So, we’re throwing a house party at yours tonight, and you’re DJing at midnight, the peak of the party. What five songs will you play?

OK. I’m going to play Evelyn by Fantastic Mr Fox, Jasmine by Jai Paul, Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side, because it’s the sweetest dance record ever, Kiss by Prince, because that’s the next sweetest dance record ever and I’ll finish with TNGHT’s Higher Ground, that’s like the perfect song to just lose your mind to.

Finally, crucially, what’s your favourite noise?

Oh! I know the answer, I know the answer! I have these monitors called in-ears and when I play live I put in my in-ears a minute or two minutes before I go on stage. So when the microphone is on, out on the stage, I can hear the buzz of the crowd, and I can hear them talking and cheering and getting excited for me to play. And there is no better, cooler, more hyping sound in the world. It makes me so ready to play: I love it so much. So it’s definitely that sound!

Stuck for what to play next? Start Discovering.

We’re excited to let you know that from today, you can start to enjoy an entirely new and personal way of discovering music on Spotify.

The all-new Discover page

Your hunt for the right music is over! Spotify’s Discover page continually seeks out personal recommendations for you.

– Endless recommendations based on the music you listen to.

– New single and album releases from artists you follow.

– All the music and playlists shared by friends and trendsetters you follow.

– Find out when an artist you love is touring near you – the information will just bubble up through recommended shows from Songkick.

Along with the Discover page, we’re also introducing our new Audio Preview feature. You can dip into new music without moving away from the song you’re playing. If you like what you hear, you can save it for later or play it right away. The choice is yours.

The Discover page is available from today on our brand new web player which is now available to all users. Just head over on your computer to try it out.

We’ve also started to gradually roll out the Discover page to users on our desktop and mobile apps. When we’re ready to update your account, you’ll receive a notification.

Happy discovering!

The Incredible Story of Zach Sobiech

We were saddened to hear that Zach Sobiech passed away on Monday. Zach is a true inspiration to us and we wanted to share his story with you all.

At age 13, Zach was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Zach bravely fought his illness for years but last year, doctors who had run out of treatment options, told him he likely had a few months to a year to live. Zach, who had always loved music and was never far from his guitar, once again turned to music. Instead of writing letters he wrote songs, and his song “Clouds” – which was his own way of saying goodbye – became an instant Internet sensation and garnered worldwide attention after his story appeared in newspapers, on television and websites around the world.

In his memory, Sobiech’s family has started the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund, to enable further research into the cancer that has taken the teenager’s life. Learn more about his incredible story here and if you can, donate to the fund here.

The sounds of May courtesy of

We present you the music selection that our friends from Sharemyplaylists have handpicked for this month.

Soul Deluxe

Soul music is enjoying something of a renaissance, at the moment. In recent years, a wealth of talent has emerged on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. Add those artists to a smorgasbord of soul stalwarts and you get this, the brand spanking new SMP playlist dedicated to contemporary soul music. Here you’ll find 60 tracks ñ and counting ñ spanning over four hours of the best, freshest soul music around, by the very cream of new and emerging proponents of the genre. Making up the numbers, so far, we have: Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu, Lulu James, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Justin Timberlake and many, many more. As alway, with our own creations, we update this mixtape regularly. So don’t forget to subscribe.

90 Rap Songs From The 90s: Vol II

Depending on your perspective ñ and your age, of course ñ you may consider the 90s as something of a golden era for hip-hop music. TommyC83 most certainly does. The SMP user has put together this mixtape, a follow up to last year’s hugely successful 90 Rap Songs From The 90s. The original playlist was a consummate collection of some of the best hip-hop music ever put to record. And Vol II is more of the same. Our favourites include blasts from the past by everyone from Nice & Smooth, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Black Moon and Tag Team, to more familiar names such as A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, Eric B. & Rakim and the Notorious B.I.G.. Super stuff. A must-hear for old school hip-hop heads and nostalgic rap fans. Check it out.

The Soundtrack to May 2013

Has the sun been shining where you are? If yes, you need a playlist that reflects summer’s arrival. Step forward SMP superuser Phil Wilce. “The mercury is pushing 99,” he says. “And at the burning heart, 50 of the hottest track you’ll hear in the next 31 days.” Wilce is our resident arbiter of taste, when it comes to new music. So when he recommends releases from Ghostpoet, Jakwob, Papa, Luke Sital-Singh and the Strypes, we tend to take note. And we think you should, too. The SMP user also recommends sun-blushed tunes from Empire Of The Sun, Alex Metric, Daft Punk, Jon Hopkins, Julio Bashmore and Justin Martin, with Dusky on the remix. We’re also fond of new stuff from James Blake, Steve Mason and Kurt Vile, to name just a few. But this playlist is all killer and absolutely zero filler. The very definition of a must-hear mixtape!

Gilles Peterson All Winners of 2013 #1

It’s that time of year, again: when the greatest show on radio gets even greater. We’re talking about BBC Radio 6 Music’s Gilles Peterson and his unmissable All Winners Show. Our highlights include: Cirrus, the return of Bonobo; Typesun’s The PL, a slice of contemporary soul that is one of our favourite tracks of the year; the impossibly beautiful Green Garden by Laura Mvula; James Blake’s collaboration with Wu-Tang’s the RZA, Take a Fall for Me; the amazing Eckoclick Remix of Bambooman’s Sun; and, well, pretty much every track on this mixtape … 25 tunes, spanning over three hours, of the best music from around the world ñ spanning every single genre that matters. Superb stuff from the tireless champion of new music that is Gilles Peterson. Many thanks to SMP user niniouz for putting this one together. A proper must-hear mixtape.

Daytime Deep House

Day parties. They’ve got a different vibe to the club. To the night. The best ones take place in gardens, yards or on terraces. The dream ones take place on the beach. Shades are a must. Vests and shorts are essential. Flip flops, too. Drinks? Long cocktails. Ice-cold beers. And as for the music … Well, day parties require a very special kind of music. If there’s one man who understands a good day party it’s Reggie Prim. The SMP user, our resident dance music connoisseur, has put together a mixtape full of the finest daytime deep house. “Good for night. Good for day. Good for work and good for play,” goes the pithy playlist description. Highlights include big tunes and remixes from Kruse & Nuernberg, Mano Le Tough, Guti, Cesar Merveille, Anneke Van Giersbergen and many more besides. Brilliant, as always, from that man Prim.

Best Independent Music of 2013 (so far)

The Orchard has pulled one out of the bag. Again. 2013 has been an absolute bumper year for new noise. With that in mind, one of our playlists of the week is a consummate collection of the best indie music released so far this year. “It’s hard to keep up with all the awesome indie releases out there,” says the SMP superuser. “Well, you’re in luck, because we’ve got you covered.” They have indeed. Our highlights include everyone from the Virgins, Sebastian Back and the Story So Far to Leddra Chapman, Dirtyphonics and the Black Angels ñ and, of course, the inimitable Har Mar Superstar. Click shuffle, hit play, turn it up and get ready to discover your new favourite band. Great stuff, as always, from the master mixtape maker that is the Orchard.

Party at Gatsby’s

The Great Gatsby, arguably the greatest American novel of all time, has been given the Baz Luhrman treatment. The Australian director has called in the acting talents of Messrs. Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tobey Maguire, alongside actress Isla Fisher. We’re pretty excited about it. Not least because the soundtrack is amazing. SMP user confunded thinks so, too. “Music from and inspired by Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby,” goes the playlist description. It features everyone from Amy Winehouse, Jaz-Z and Frank Ocean to alt-J, Little Comets and Lykke Li. A succinct collection ñ taking in just 15 tracks, spanning an hour and a half. A really nicely put together mixtape. So we beat on, playlist makers against the streaming service, borne ceaselessly into the back-catalogue.

150 Song History of Popular British Music

It’s a bold user who attempts to encapsulate the entire history of British music in one playlist. However, if there’s one man who’s up to the challenge, it’s SMP superuser hoxsd1. So, here we go ñ “A history of modern popular British music in 150 songs.” From Lonnie Donegan’s Rock Island Line to PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake ñ via rock’n’roll, punk, ska and two tone, 80s cheese, Britpop, talent-show pop and pretty much everything in between ñ this is a consummate retrospective on almost a century of music. You’ve got two ways of tackling this playlist: 1) Play it all the way through, in one or more sittings (preferably one ñ it’s only 16 hours long!) or 2) Click shuffle, hit play, turn it up and see what you discover. Either way, this mixtape is must for music fans of any age. Great work.

“Hemlock Grove” Playlist

So, who’s into Hemlock Grove, then? The horror-thriller is the latest must-see television series for Netflix, and it makes for compulsive viewing. Based on the equally brilliant Brian McGreevy novel of the same name, released last year, Hemlock Grove premiered this month. Like House of cards, all 13 episodes were made available for online viewing … Which, as we all know, is all but inviting you to draw the curtains, turn off your phone and forget the world exists until you’ve watched every last one. The soundtrack’s pretty good, too. Studio13 has put together a collection of all the music featured in the show. “This playlist is continuously monitored,” the SMP user says, “and will build up throughout the seasons as and when the music becomes available.” A collection of tracks that’s as eclectic as it is superb.

Dancefloor Anthems

We are big, big fans of dance music, here at SMP. We’re house heads. Techno fiends. Drum’n’bass devotees. Disco aficionados. Electro enthusiasts. If it’s got a repetitive beat, if it makes you move your feet, throw your hands in the air and puts a great big grin on your face, we’re all over it. So much so that’ve we’ve decided to focus our passion for dance music into one ñ even if we do say so ourselves ñ deft collection of the best and latest floor-fillers on Spotify. Featured here: everyone from Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren and Avicii to Daft Punk, A-Trak and A*M*E. From the mainroom to the underground, there’s something for everyone here. And don’t forget to subscribe. We update this playlist regularly. Play loud!

#MusicMonday playlist brought to you by @MonaFims

Our friend @MonaFims has this #MusicMonday’s recommendations.

We start this week with a Canadian synth-pop duo “Allosaurus”. The first song in our playlist is a track called “Emma-Jane” taken from their debut album “Old Solar”.

We continue with “Fender Heist”, an ecclectic pop duo based in Oslo, Norway. Hear their debut single “Chino” released at the end of 2012.

Then time for a dose of Indie/Rock! “Keep Together” by American “Hunter Hunted”, also known as Dan Chang and Michael Garner. “Eliza and the Bear” are a five-piece Alt-Indie/Rock outfit from London. “Upon the North” was a part of their Double A Side release with “The Southern Wild” released in February.

The last song in our playlist is the beautiful “The End” by American “The Lower 48”.

If you have song suggestions for next week’s playlist, be sure to drop them in Mona’s Spotify Inbox.

Subscribe to the playlist and you will get a mix of twenty new Feel-Good tracks every Monday.

Tunes for the nervous flyer

Nervous flyer? Well we’ve got just the playlist for you!

Ahead of the busy summer holiday season, we asked Anxiety psychologist Dr Becky Spelman from the Private Therapy Clinic in London to compile a playlist with some tunes that help to calm the nerves of anxious flyers.

The Science Behind the Music

Dr Spelman’s research finds that breathing in time to music with a low bpm at a controlled and reduced pace is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure which in turn reduces anxiety. Another established method is to listen to tracks which stimulate both sides of the brain, while using headphones and with eyes your closed. Music which is harmonious and emotive is generally regarded as the best at achieving this type of stimulation which induces Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR). This tried and tested method was originally developed for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is incredibly powerful at calming and relaxing the mind and body.

The playlist, compiled by Dr Spelman, features an interesting mix of songs across various genres including classical and alternative rock, all of which can be used help to reduce the anxiety associated with a fear of flying when listened to before and during a flight. Someone Like You by Adele is very close to the optimum bpm of around 60 – the perfect pace for slowing down breathing associated with fear and anxiety. It is also a soulful and harmonious song, which helps to stimulate both sides of the brain, making it the ultimate song for calming anxious nerves. Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) by Enya also works using a low bpm and Piano on The Beach by Liborio Conti utilises this method alongside the ability to stimulate both sides of the brain.

Dr Spelman comments: “Travel anxiety is caused by irrational thoughts where the threat is exaggerated and inappropriate. Music that stimulates both the logical left and emotional right sides of the brain is said to stimulate the limbic system, which processes negative memories and emotions, which in turn helps people think in a more balanced, rational way supressing anxiety. Piano on The Beach by Liborio Conti works using this method of music therapy but must be listened to with headphones to be effective.” The study – based on Dr Spelman’s extensive work with nervous travellers – shows that music has the ability to strongly affect emotional states in a number of ways.

Fascinating stuff. To those of you plane hopping this summer, safe travels — we trust this playlist helps to put to at ease.

Our Interview with Jamie Cullum

Jamie Cullum, jazz-bod extraordinaire, is in the back-lounge of his tour bus driving through rural France.

Where are you, we ask.

“I have no idea!” he replies.

Where were you last that was like a real place, we respond.

“Paris,” he says. “That was definitely a real place. And prior to that, Amsterdam.”

The line goes ominously dead for a few seconds before a crackly Jamie returns.

“I’m kind of hoping wherever we’re going next is a real place too…”

Mr Cullum, I put it to you that your new single Love For Sale is very hip-hop indeed…

That’s how I got into jazz – through samples in hip-hop and record collecting. Sample culture is part of my work, and has been for many years. Basslines and riffs are part of a jazz musician’s DNA and obviously hip-hop is based around that same thing. Roots Manuva’s Witness the Fitness features one of my favourite basslines of all time – that’s probably the same for a lot of people! Hip-hop is, largely, about sex, so singing Cole Porter’s 1930’s song about hookers over the top of this Roots Manuva bassline and turning it back into essentially a jazz song with a jazz piano solo in the middle, made sense in my brain!

Is there a desire in you to throw people off the scent, make them think about you in a different way?

Absolutely – and I totally understand what you’re saying. Obviously there’s a reason the label led with that, too – that song is the first thing a lot of people will have heard from the new record. Funnily enough, there’s a YouTube clip of me jamming out this with a loop pedal about five or six years ago. I’m always looking for ideas that excite me, and then trying not to think about how people will take it, because if I think about that too much, then I’ll wrong-foot myself! My impulse is just to do crazy shit that amuses me, so I do like the idea that people think they’ve got my number, but actually it turns out they haven’t. A lot of my hard-core fans are very accepting of my moves like that. They’ve all heard stuff that I’ve done with Pharrell and stuff I’ve done with Sander Kleinenberg – the ones that really know me expect there to be a few wrong-foots along the way.

What was the first music you were aware of playing in the house?

That’s a good question. My mum and dad played a lot of music in the house, often the Sound of the 60s on Radio Two on a Saturday morning, but I think really it was my older brother, Ben, who really kind of was the one who influenced me with the music. So early on, it was a lot of pop, you know, Jive Bunny and the Mastermix, Housemartins, The Smiths. When he started bringing home Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan we got into blues and those guitar gods and then we started getting really into heavy metal. I was very passionate very quickly about bands like AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

How did you mark out your heavy metal territory?

For me it was about super-heavy musicianship, so I loved Sepultura, Pantera, Megadeath. I wasn’t really into the attitude. I didn’t like adopt any, “Fuck you, fuck the world!” outlook, I was fascinated by how well they were playing the drums and guitar – just the speed at which they were playing. That was really key, because when took the jump over to jazz there was symbiotic feeling to the people who were playing really fast and really technically in metal and jazz. Then I really got into Nirvana and Soundgarden, before it all went rave, breakbeat and electronic, like Roni Size and Portishead…

You are, clearly, a hopeless case.

Oh yeah! I took on the mantle of music nerd early on, so it was all going to record fairs, trying to find old records, serious backpacks and old band t-shirts stuff.

What are the five key hip-hop records that swung you towards playing jazz?

That would be the first two Pharcyde records, then A Tribe Called Quest’s Beats, Rhymes & Life, Guru’s first Jazzmatazz LP, though that’s not aged so well, any of the early Beatnuts’ LPs and Quasimoto’s The Further Adventures of Lord Quas. There’s quite a few of those records that I still go back to – and, you know, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that that first Us Three record was a big one for me as well. That’s where I first heard Cantaloupe Island by Herbie Hancock as well. That, again, has not dated well, so it’s not the coolest reference, but definitely an important one.

It’s easy, years later, to pretend that all you listened to at the time was Grant Green’s Down Here On The Ground and Nasty Nas’ Halftime, but things like Us 3 and Earthling and Ronnie Jordan were big records too.

Absolutely – and it all connects to jazz and the whole acid jazz scene; Incognito, Corduroy, The James Taylor Quartet, Snowboy and the Latin Section, that was really a big starting point for me, the link was there to Roni Size and it wasn’t too far away from what my peers were into. It’s always a bit frightening when you’re completely out on your own…

Does the perfect song exist?

Well, I think Donny Hathaway singing Jealous Guy by John Lennon, the live version, is pretty damn close to perfect song. It may be the perfect performance, but perfect in the sense that it has all the right imperfections in it too.

We’ve touched on hip-hop, but what five albums from the wider world made you who you are?

Certainly Ben Folds Five’s Whatever and Ever Amen is a very key record in my existence. There’s a Harry Connick Jr album called Twenty, which is him playing solo piano and singing with guests like Dr. John and Carmen McRae, that’s pretty essential. New Forms by Roni Size must be in there, as must Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage. Then there’s Cinematic Orchestra’s Every Day and Mark Murphy’s Rah! There’s too many…

Who’s the most impressive person you’ve ever worked with?

I think Pharrell. I spent a week with him in Miami, in the studio and just seeing the way he works was very inspiring. He was really going out on a limb working with someone like me, and while we didn’t get much actual suitable work done it was still an amazing experience.

What music can you only listen to when Sophie’s out?

Ha! Well, that would be some of the heavier kind of techno things I listen to – and possibly the new Flaming Lips album, The Terror. I love it, but it’s not entirely suitable for the wife and two children at the same time! I had that on the other day and I seen realised it was definitely something that I should specifically put my headphones on for. Same with this guy, Applescal whose album I really like at the moment.

If you could join any band in history, who would that be?

I would say The Beatles for the music and Led Zeppelin for the parties. Or maybe One Direction. Being Harry Styles right now, would be quite good. Or possibly the biggest nightmare in the entire world, who knows!

Our Interview with Alison Balsom

“It’s like a whole life lived in nine minutes with only one instrument…”

Specialist music charity Nordoff Robbins have announced that award-winning classical trumpeter Alison Balsom is to receive their PPL Classical Award this June. Balsom, who has headlined The Last Night Of the Proms, appeared on the David Letterman Show and twice been named Female Artist of the Year at the Classic BRIT Awards, first picked up the instrument aged 7 after borrowing a Dizzy Gillespie cassette from her local library. “The sound he made was why I started playing the trumpet,” she says. “I know I’ll listen to him for the rest of my life…”

Did you ever, we feel compelled to ask, worry you might get his cheeks?

“No!” she laughs, forgivingly. “That happened at the end of his career when his embouchure had collapsed and he was trying anything to keep on playing. I’m classically trained, so, I hope, that will never happen to me.”

With that question addressed, and in tribute to her well-deserved win, here are Alison’s Top Ten Favourite Pieces of Music – and, crucially, why she loves them.

Handel’s Atalanta Overture: Alison Balsom and the English Concert

“This is from my own album – as a musician you’re so self-critical, but this was such a joyful experience to record. I didn’t know it beforehand, so it was a brilliant surprise. As a piece, it’s very tricky to play, but also very rewarding.”

Dizzy Gillespie: Con Alma

“He was the very first trumpet player I heard and his playing is so gorgeous and cool and sassy – it’s amazingly soulful. There’s no barrier between who he was and the listener. The music is who he is.”

Rodriguez: Sugar Man

“I was so blown away by the film. I loved his music, but because he was a little behind Bob Dylan in terms of time he just didn’t get the recognition. Rodriguez wrote extraordinary songs – his music is so evocative of the time – and it’s wonderful that he’s still alive to enjoy another chance.”

Chopin Ballade #1 in G Minor: Krystian Zimerman

“This is less about Chopin himself – although it is a sublime piece of music – than it is about Zimerman who I think is the best pianist in the world. He brings this complicated music to life with real feel and heart. It’s epic, like a whole life lived in nine minutes with only one instrument.”

Clifford Brown: Joy Spring

“He wrote this when he was very young – he died in a car crash along with his pianist Richie Powell aged just 25. While a lot of his contemporaries were into heroin, Brown was clean-living and moralistic, you won’t meet a trumpet player in the world today who doesn’t love him. He was the master, like Mozart. Imagine what else he could have done…”

Gorillaz: Feel Good Inc.

“It’s funky and it puts me in a great mood. The concept of the band is so fantastic and intriguing, all the ideas are fed through these cartoon characters – it’s incredible really. They’re so creative – it’s nothing to do with the music I make, but I love it.”

J.S. Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 5: The English Concert & Trevor Pinnock

“Recorded in 1983, this was the first piece of classical music I heard and it was breathtaking. Trevor Pinner has become an idol of mine and this sums up everything I love about Baroque music. It aims for pinnacles and climaxes then turns back and aims for even bigger ones. This is like someone smashing up a guitar on-stage, it’s crazy, yet it’s over 300 years old. Dizzy made me pick up the trumpet, but this made me want to be a classical musician.”

Queen: Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy

“No one writes a tune like Queen. I grew up on this band, I saw them in Knebworth when I was about 9 and that was just amazing. They were composers – not just songwriters – their music is so clever and emotional.”

Whitney Houston: I Have Nothing

“I’m a child of the 90s! The Bodyguard was the biggest thing imaginable for me and my school-friends and this was definitely the soundtrack to our young teenage years.”

Purcell: The Funeral Sentences for the Death of Queen Mary II: March

“It’s such a short piece, but it’s so amazingly emotional. It’s simple, like a hymn – there are only two minutes of music, but it’s so sombre and gorgeous. The instruments just blend together so beautifully.”