Photo by Janine Gebauer
Because we are so digging on IAMX''s forthcoming album, Kingdom of Welcome Addiction (Metropolis, 2009)—even more specifically, the funky electro banger “Nature of Inviting”—we decided to drop him a line to find out what his favorite tracks are of all time. IAMX (aka Chris Corner of Sneaker Pimps fame) was more than happy to reveal his top 10 for this installment of Remix''s Perfect 10.
IAMX had this to say about his list: “It is impossible to list and describe the songs that shaped my concept of music, but I will list what comes to mind today.”
Lotte Lenya, “Die Moritat Vom Mackie Messer” (Sony, 1999) (Music by Kurt Weil, words by Bertolt Brecht)
I initially fell heavily in love with the poetry of Brecht when I moved from London to Berlin and slowly immersed myself in German culture. His writing and use of fierce, simple language got to me. I was also turned on by the expressionist films of the '20s and '30s, and that combination painted a really exciting picture. Digging into this stuff and trying to understand it was also a great way to learn the language. The song was originally from the theatre musical Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera) and has been covered many times, but the most authentic in my opinion was performed by Lotte Lenya.
David Sylvian, “Brilliant Trees” (Virgin, 1984)
David Sylvian had perhaps the strongest influence on my decision to make music. He really informed me of how to create atmosphere with unconventional song structure. I was forced by an evil uncle to listen to this strange music from an early age. He brainwashed me with the album Brilliant Trees when I was about 7. I thank him for that. I have held that love of left-field creativity ever since.
The way Sylvian seamlessly melted electronic elements into acoustic ones astounded me. Such grace and subtlety. Beautiful musical pictures. I was very moved by this track and it directed me into also becoming a producer.
Suicide, “Frankie Teardrop” (Red Star, 1977)
When people say "punk" I think of only one band—Suicide. This is their quintessential trashy new-wave-electro masterpiece—too long, too bizarre, too scary. I am interested in real intensity and conviction in performance. Alan Vega was unique—a guiding light of nonsense and blind faith. This track—in its monotony and uncompromising visceral passion—is a classic.
Nick Drake, “River Man” (Island, 1969)
I guess, in my softer moments, this is the kind of thing I would always dive into. It floats and meanders. It somehow captures the beauty of England and the soul of folk culture.
The orchestration is astounding and lyrically magical. Not forgetting that it is a fabulous example of a 5/4 time signature that actually works in a popular song.
This was perfect music for me to experiment on my acoustic guitar with. Lots of chords, fingerpicking and harmony. It also has a deadpan naivety that adds to its timeless quality.
Chet Baker, “My Funny Valentine” (Blue Note/Pacific Jazz, 1953)
I find it amazing how so many of the jazz greats were completely fucked up on every drug imaginable and made such considered downbeat music. Slow and heartfelt. It was a choice between Nico and Chet Baker performing this song. I went for the Baker version because of its smoothness and better nature.
I connect with this because it really describes my disposition of falling in love with a freaky woman. A woman with character. The beautiful quirks and faults. It is a tribute to the loves in the shipwreck of my life.
Prince, “Darling Nikki” (Warner Bros., 1984)
Every boy needs something sexual and controversial to get into when they are growing up. I got into Prince quite late after the very normal Michael Jackson phase. When I discovered rhythm and sex, Prince began to make sense. This is the ultimate sensual funk-rock track—dirty, ridiculous and full of life. I love Prince''s undercurrent of the absurd and his black sense of humor. I also like that he blocked a cover of this track by the Foo Fighters saying they should write their own songs and leave his alone. I completely agree, Mr. Prince, sir.
Kraftwerk, “The Model” (Kling Klang, 1978)
It is well known that Kraftwerk pretty much invented techno, and their influence on dance music in general is huge. "The Model" was a big hit. It is fabulous that you can get vintage videos on YouTube and check out these crazy Germans, to see their style and see how they mixed serious hard electronic music with theater.
The attraction for me is the simplicity of the song and how the coldness of the band and production describe the feeling of fashion and emptiness.
Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit” (Commodore, 1939)
A very dark moment in musical history. I listened to this song many times before actually "heard" it. I prefer the Nina Simone version but this is more brutal. With Holiday''s solitary intense voice it demands respect and attention. It is difficult to imagine the suffering described in the lyrics.
My grandfather is African. I often connect this song with his journey and struggle surviving working-class England in the '50s.
Can, “Vitamin C” (United Artists, 1972)
Can is an underrated band. I agree that much of their work is a little off the wall and avant-garde to enjoy.
Their sound definitely influenced a million indie outfits around the world. The most interesting thing for me was the drumming. Jaki Liebezeit was fabulous and the drive behind their best work. The catchy "Vitamin C" has been sampled and reconstructed endlessly, but the raw groove and energy in it still stands up against tracks today, and it is my favorite indie club dance track.
Bobby Vinton, “Blue Velvet” (Epic, 1963)
I love melody and I guess melodrama, too. Oh the ballads of the '50s—Elvis, Roy Orbison, Phil Spector, etcetera. I have always been a sucker for that sound. There was so much more playfulness in the production back then. The arrangements were sublime and the vocal recordings were so crunchy. And underneath it all there was a real feeling of darkness. Behind the smiles and the love lyrics it all felt like some kind of serial-killer child abuse going on. Is that just me? Perhaps I just watched too much David Lynch.
Anyway, this song is so divine and sickly sweet. I get lost in it, in the four chords and the plate reverbs. Pure genius.