Sydney-based producer upsidedownhead is somewhat of an enigma. Arriving seemingly out of nowhere, Ross James is already generating a buzz of conversation through a combination of eclectic sounds, making the most of everything from analogue synths to laptop-driven soundscapes. To celebrate the release of his incredible debut EP, complex, we find out which five records have inspired upsidedownhead's musical journey.
Weval - Weval
When I first heard Weval I became totally obsessed. Sonically and harmonically, they really struck my ear and greatly influenced my writing. In 2016 they finally released this debut album – and it’s a masterpiece. I’ve always loved darker tinged music, but Weval truly opened my eyes to the idea of simplicity and minimalism through creating one strong sound as opposed to ten half-baked ones. The use of electronic and acoustic drums on this record is a huge inspiration to my current approach. I’ve taken it in a slightly different direction from where they lead me and mixed in my love of Bonobo and Caribou, with something different of my own to create a sound that is hopefully unique.
Rival Consoles - Night Melody
I’ve really started to get into Rival Consoles lately. I started getting into this particular record mid-2017. After I finished my record, I became equally obsessed with his new album Persona, which came out this year. I feel like this taught me how to be patient in my process. I can be a bit frantic and get in super-fast work modes, which can be good, but for the music I wanted to make I had to learn to slow down and craft each sound carefully (each with its own modulation and dynamic breath). I feel that’s what this record does so well – everything has its own sonic place that only adds to the overall sound.
Christian Loeffler - Young Alaska
This album is more in the prog-house realm (which I have a penchant for). It’s a beautifully constructed record that’s awesome to listen to on a walk. I remember feeling really stressed one afternoon mid-tour. I was on the Gold Coast and the sun was setting and I went for a mammoth walk up the esplanade next to the beach and listened to this album start to finish. I just felt so inspired and relaxed when I got back. It’s amazing the effect music can have on the soul and mind.
The beats, structure and the vocal production (minimal) are all effortlessly pristine. This record has an overall sound and warmth that resonates with me; it feels like it was made in a bedroom with a particular set of tools, it doesn’t sound over-mixed and just screams perfection. Maybe this helped me get used to the idea of mixing my own music.
Thom Yorke - The Eraser and James Blake - Overgrown
I’ve combined these two to sneak in an extra one. It was too hard to squeeze in only five. I guess I would call these the “executive producer” influences. Both of these records were a massive influence in my overall development as an artist over the years. Rather than being a current listen, or something that directly influenced my writing for this record, they changed the way I approached music. Eraser in 2006 and Overgrown in 2013 blew my mind – Eraser for the overall weaving of patterns, the harmonic movement and the clean but still somehow gritty sound, and Overgrown for the depth, undulating sonic undertones and different approach to chords. I guess what’s impressive to me is that both these artists have such a unique style – just a chord progression on any instrument can give away who’s written the song. Not many artists could claim that.
Kiasmos - Kiasmos
Olafur Arnalds, one half of Kiasmos, is probably one of the premier composers of mixing orchestration with electronic. This is a dynamite listen of minimal electro beats, beautiful phrases and dashes of piano. It’s a moving soundscape that is crafted to perfection. Often, the melodies and chord structures are so simple, and that’s what makes them so wonderful to listen to. This reflects how I wanted to make complex music because I feel Iʼm a complex person (we all can be at times), but still wanted to keep a simplicity to the music and how I approached it.
complex is out Friday November 23 via Liberation Records.
Image via Christopher Miles.