The music you listen to whilst growing up is important. Some albums can speak to you in a special way; others can inspire you; and still others can define you. For Alex Shields, the man behind the A Grave With No Name project - and the excellent LP Whirlpool which was just released this week - there are certain albums that did all three.

We're told that he was very excited to put together this Under the Influence article for us, and it's not hard to see why. His diverse influences, whether musical or otherwise - The Beastie Boys, The Replacements, The Microphones and more - paint a picture of his life in music. There was no theme this time, but these 5 albums all have one thing in common: they've made him who he is.

Forthcoming Dates:

  • Tuesday 16th July - Manchester, Gorilla
  • Wednesday 17th July - London, Birthdays
  • Thursday 18th July - Birmingham, Hare & Hounds
  • Monday 22nd July - Bergen, Landmark
  • Tuesday 23rd July - Oslo, Parkeatreat
  • Saturday 27th July - London, Brixton Windmill All dayer

Beastie Boys - Licensed to Ill

My sister is 10 years older than me, so when she was a teenager and I was a tiny kid, she used to play Licensed to Ill, Eazy-Duz-It and Straight Outta Compton on loop, and then get me to repeat the lyrics to our parents. 'Brass Monkey' by Beastie Boys was totally my shit when I was four.

The Replacements - Let It Be

I remember picking up Let It Be, a bottle of wine and a pizza and heading over to my girlfriend at the time's apartment one evening, and I spent the entire night listening to the record over-and-over in a state of rapture. Hearing beautifully wrought ballads like 'Androgynous' next to dumb-ass punk songs like 'Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out' made perfect sense to me, but it was something I had never heard before.

It's definitely been very influential in the way I put together my own albums. I know a lot of people prefer the first run of Replacements albums, but personally I'm more into the latter period where they got more commercial. I don't think many fans of the band would disagree, however, that Let It Be is the sweet-spot where they got it just right.

The Microphones - The Glow, Pt.2

I'm not the type of person who spends every waking moment making music; instead I wait for inspiration to hit me, which means I often have a bunch of free time on my hands which I spend wandering around, going to the cinema, or hanging out in record shops. On one of these aimless days, I remember seeing a copy of The Glow, Pt.2 in a store, and something compelled me to buy it, even though I couldn't recollect ever hearing of it before.

As soon as I took it home and pressed play, it was like a fourth dimension had opened in my mind. It totally changed the way I perceive music. I'd never heard melody, imagery, and sound come together in such a way that it created a universe which I felt I genuinely inhabited. I'm constantly striving to make a record which is the perfect amalgamation of this and Let It Be by The Replacements.

Clipse - Lord Willin

I remember staying up late one night watching rap videos on MTV, and suddenly 'Grindin'' came on. I spent the next couple of hours trying to wrap my head around what I'd just heard. Regardless of genre, it was one of the most progressive pieces of music I'd heard; totally confrontational in its minimalism. I was a huge fan of The Neptunes at the time, so when I heard they had produced the entirety of Lord Willin I hunted down a copy and spent every day for about a year listening to it.

The influence of this LP really should not be understated, it was the first time that you had dead-eyed coke rappers going over super-weird, geeked-out beats, and that's something which you can see in someone like A$AP Rocky today. Sonically, it may not sound like this LP has had much of an influence on my music, but its vividness and directness is something which I have consciously tried to capture when I have been making my records.

Khonnor - Handwriting

There’s a track on my second album Lower named after Khonnor because he was such a big influence on me when I started this project. Listening to Handwriting was one of the first times I'd heard swathes of noise which might typically be found on a Fennesz record, fused with incredibly fragile bedroom songwriting. If rumour is to believed, Khonnor's parents never knew he was making music as he lived in a religious household where such activities were frowned upon, so the vocals are barely audible on this album as he didn't want them to hear him recording in his room. Although my parents have always encouraged me, I very much relate to that state of vulnerability where you feel embarrassed about what you are creating.