Self-released just this Friday last, And The Rain Stopped - the debut from London based alt-rock trio Birthmarks - is a stellar offering that is essentially impossible within a singular stylistic pigeonhole. Within the suave and seductive long play Birthmarks discuss their open relationships with anxiety, loss, sex and obsession through a myriad of inspirations including, emo, trip-hop, electronica and more. With the record now out we got in touch with frontman Daniel Cross to discover the artists that where essential to the formation of the band's beguiling sound.
"I remember buying Debut as a Christmas present for myself when I was 18. I'd always loved everything that I'd heard from Bjork but had neglected to explore further. I was completely transfixed and have been since. I think that she is one of the most vital artists going at the moment and a leader into the unknown. If I had to pick to a favourite album it would be Medulla. It's an incredibly brave record in the fact that it is pretty much nothing other than the human voice but the quality is not compromised by its manifesto, it's beautiful, divine and ethereal."
"Me and Jason (Fletcher - Drums, vocals, synths) were both really into Wu-Tang as teenagers and I think the kind of groove that they produced influenced ours massively. There's a huge depth and imagery to their music (obviously helped by the martial art samples). They're raw sound and variety had a real impact on us for adventuring into alternative production. It gave us a much wider perspective on how sounds an be used to create an atmosphere. For pretty much every song on the record we experimented with Wu-Tang style beats and collages."
"A Moon Shaped Pool dropped whilst I was writing the album and for me, it just changed everything. It's a distressingly beautiful record and in my opinion a masterpiece, it feels like the most sincere love letter. I see it as a very helpless record in which to find solace. Through expressing vulnerability you offer out comfort to others. They're a boundary-less band which has always been our aim and they've explored different genres definitely."
"My introduction to Sparklehorse was through a friend of mine, who writes really cool avant-garde cello based songs under the guise Rotten Bliss, she used to have a poster for It's A Wonderful Life on her bedroom wall where we used to jam together. It was Linkhous' voice which first drew me in, I think he was the first to show me the beauty in vulnerability. There's a special depth to his writing, a deep sense of melancholy and torment even in his most optimistic moments which is unique to Sparklehorse. 'Gold Day' is the song that I'd like to have played at my funeral."
"My uncle gave me a Lightning Bolt CD when I was about 15 and said that it's the closest thing that he'd ever heard to a rave recorded. Their sound is a complete assault on the ears and they've got such rich energy. Our breakdown section on 'Eclipse' is part homage to them. They're unrestrained and brutal but with very twisted pop sensibilities and one of the best live bands that I've ever seen."
"I used to listen to 'Easy' by Son Lux about 5 times a day whilst writing the record. The use of space and groove is ridiculous, the production and feel of the song is amazing and the minimalistic approach gives room for the uncompromised raw emotion of the song to shine. It's a unique sounding track and sets the bar very high for experimental songwriting. The musicianship in the band is top tier and I love how on their records they really push boundaries and you can never tell what's coming next."
"I first saw Saul Williams when he was supporting Nine Inch Nails (a band who could very easily top this list) and was completely blown away. I've followed him since then and his use of honest wordplay is unmatched for me. I love the movements in his music and that he creates tangled webs which are a joy to unravel. His work is haunting but only in the way that it holds a reflection to the world and to the human condition."
"I'm pretty obsessed with both Doris and I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside. I would often take walks whilst writing the record and have either one of these in my headphones. I think they're both masterpieces. Nothing is forced on these records, they flow incredibly naturally for such complex records. His lyrics are introspective and confessional but also distant. They're exhausting records but this type of honesty should be exhausting."
"I inherited the first two Dresden Dolls albums from my late uncle, I love those records dearly. I think Amanda Palmer as an artist is a true inspiration, her body of work is pretty flawless and she gives every part of herself to her audience. I hold her in the same regards as The Cure, David Bowie and The Beatles in that she projects the full spectrum of emotion, she can have you laughing one second and in tears the next and everything in between."
'I'd never heard a band that sounded like Portishead before and they still sound completely unique and fresh today. Beth Gibbons is my favourite singer of all time, I would do anything to have her vocals on one of our tracks. Their music is unprecedented, genre-defying and sexy. I love all of their music but Third would be my favourite, that album destroyed boundaries for me and was a huge influence on us."
"I couldn't not mention Pixies as they've been so influential on me for so long. I know it's an easy choice but 'Where Is My Mind?' is probably my favourite song. I got the opening lines tattooed on my arm the day after we finished tracking the album."