Gabriel Stebbing has always been inscrutable, difficult to define.
Previously a member of Metronomy, the London based artist turned solo under the name Night Works. Steeped in that elegantly British sensibility of synth pop, Stebbing's acute pop touch is matched to an otherworldly sensibility.
It's a curious mixture. Night Works has a melancholic, aching side - check out previous single 'Long Forgotten Boy' for more evidence - but debut full length 'Urban Heat Island' is a diverse, complex work.
Out now, ClashMusic decided to invite Gabriel Stebbing to take part in Their Library. Find out the contents of his bookshelf below...
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What is your favourite book and why?
I spent ages trying to narrow this down and in the end I'll probably go back to the book that I've probably picked up the most in my life - the Times Atlas of the World. I find it constantly sparks my imagination and leads me to other books.
What other authors do you like?
So many, not enough space here for an exhaustive list! Orwell, Greene; American authors like Richard Ford, Paul Auster, Dave Eggers, Garrison Keillor; Italo Calvino, Primo Levi, Günther Grass ... I read a lot of non-fiction too. I like writing about cities - Iain Sinclair, Peter Ackroyd, Mike Davis.
What draws you to certain books?
In fiction, I enjoy being put in other people's heads, and in their times. I look for that authentic communication. In non-fiction, I'm interested in place, in deep excavation of history and place.
Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?
Hmm, that's an interesting one, I'm probably not enough of a digger to come up with anything truly unknown. However I've just picked up The Spirit of London by Paul Cohen-Portheim and am really enjoying it: it's non-fiction, a really personal and idiosyncratic guidebook to London between the wars.
Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
Yes for sure, when I was writing my album I was reading those 80s New York writers like Jay McInerney (Brightness Falls was a big influence) as well as non-fiction about the recent financial crash - Michael Lewis, Whoops! by John Lanchester.
What are you reading at the moment?
I've just finished Capital by John Lanchester which was really superb - there seemed to be a few parallels between the themes of his novel and my album, in fact. And I've just started Down and Out In Paris and London which I don't think I've read since my late teens.
What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
Probably Each Peach Pear Plum or The Great Big Hungry Caterpillar! Once I got a bit older and started reading for myself, Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, Ursula le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy, loads ... I used to devour books. I read much more then than now, what a shame.
Did you make good use of your library card as a child / teenager?
Definitely! Still do. Hackney has a really great library service.
Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn’t finish?
Too many to mention, I think I'm like anyone else in that respect.
Do you read book reviews?
Yes. My dad bought me a subscription to the LRB after I finished university (he didn't want my brain to turn to mush) and although I don't get the print edition any longer I follow them on twitter and read the odd review or article.
Would you ever re-read the same book?
Yes, I'm doing so at the moment. To me it's like the question, would you ever re-listen to the same album? Of course!
Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?
I think that's what's so brilliant about books, there's always parts of yourself in almost any character. Or parts of characters that you want to define yourself against. It's a big mirror of humanity. In terms of one character I've identified with closely, I couldn't say.
Do you read one book at a time or more than one?
I've always got loads on at once. At the moment there's that Orwell, Peter Ackroyd's London which I've been reading slowly for about a year, plus a couple of music books - 'How Soon Is Now' by Richard King, and the Nile Rodgers Autobiography which I've read but keep by my bed so I can keep dipping back into it, it's so inspiring.
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'Urban Heat Island' is out now.