The first time I heard Benbecula by the Scottish songwriter Michael Cassidy was in Amsterdam when Ryan Joseph Burns played me a mix on his phone. It sounded incredible already. But nothing could have prepared me for the mindblowing live take Cassidy recorded during his session at our live show in The Glad Cafe in Glasgow. He also played a Miley Cyrus cover and The Wedding Dress. Like A New International's Biff Smith yells at the end of the Benbecula video: "That's a belter!"
About ten years ago, Dutch drummer Kees Schaper (from Tim Knol's band) toured with American songwriter Tim Easton. A perfect chance for me to film with Easton I thought. We did and it was great. Now, a decade later, I've taught myself to film and Easton is still the amazing songwriter he already was. Last month, he performed at The Influences' live show in Utrecht and we went into the cold to film two new covers, of David Bowie and Woody Guthrie songs.
Learning and development are recurring themes in my conversation with Sofie Winterson. As a songwriter she continously seeks new methods and inspiration. That is probably what makes her music so interesting: a fresh mix of traditional folk and indie pop, with lyrics that are often darker than the sound suggests. Watch her play 'Love Me Less' and a cover of Unknown Mortal Orchestra's 'So Good At Being In Trouble' in the mesmerizing location; museum Panorama Mesdag in The Hague. Surrounded by Europe's biggest panorama, she recorded an incredible session.
Thank you so much for visiting and supporting The Influences for over a decade, or any part of it. It remains an absolute pleasure to run this thing, to meet you at the live shows and to film with all these amazing artists. Enjoy the overview of 2019 below, and let's see where we can take this project in 2020!
New York City-based songwriter Anthony D'Amato has been on a streak in the past seven years and released three full-length records and two ep's. And now also two sessions for The Influences. The first one was filmed in a dark week in American history, early in 2017. The second at TakeRoot festival 2018. Some videos have been public for a while, but with the two new videos, it's high time for a proper release. Watch him play Paul Simon and Tom Petty covers, plus three originals.
The Low Anthem recorded two songs from 'The Salt Doll Went To Measure The Depth Of The Sea' for The Influences. Singer Ben Miller talks about their history. 'I didn’t know if I was going to write anything anymore. It got to the point where just the process of writing songs felt so foreign to me. “Maybe I don’t do that anymore.” It was scary.’
Sometimes there's little time between getting to know a band and filming a session. It only ever happens though if I immediately like the music a lot. The Canadian band Close Talker have just released their new LP How Do We Stay Here and are heading out on a Canada and USA tour today, after just finishing their European run. On that run, we filmed this session where they covered Radiohead's All I Need.
It was Anthony D'Amato who introduced me to American Aquarium. The singer from New York - who's releasing a new EP soon - said I had to check them out and so I did. It took a couple of listens for me to get dragged into their songs, but once it happened, there was no return. So I was obviously happy when AA's singer BJ Barham joined me at TakeRoot 2018 to record 'When We Were Younger Men' and Bruce Springsteen's 'Highway Patrolman'.
Musicians often ask me who they should listen to when we finish filming a session. Almost a hundred percent of the time I recommend the Scottish band A New International to them. Because they're simply brilliant. And lead singer Biff Smith is one of the most remarkable songwriters and performers I've ever witnessed. Sure, he's a very good friend, so I might be biased. But damn it, if he doesn't move you when he's on stage, you're officially dead inside.
The times have been good for Israel Nash. He's focusing on the positive, rather than the negative. In this session he covered Neil Young and Radiohead. 'I’ve always known there would be something more, but I do think this is the chapter of finding out what that is. For now.’