Liela Moss has always walked her own path.
As singer and guiding light with The Duke Spirit she cut a swathe through the blokey, moribund indie scene, adding a new voice, a fresh take to an often tired template.
Focussing on a few solo ideas, she secluded herself away in Somerset, allowing the English countryside to act as her inspiration.
Delving inwards, these sessions are set to emerge into the blinking light of day later this week as new album 'My Name Is Safe In Your Mouth'.
Due out on November 9th through Bella Union, it's a vibrant, urgent, biting return, one that confounds expectations while feeling utterly true to Liela Moss' blueprint.
Clash caught up with the songwriter to discuss her Foundations – the albums that truly mattered as she built her musical imagination…
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The Velvet Underground – 'White Light/White Heat'
This isn't really my favourite Velvet Underground album because all of them just ooze perfection to my ears. Plus, I'm a sucker for the pop perfection on Loaded. However – the purring fuzz of the guitars are especially hypnotic on this record. Everything sounds a little thin, but then raw and live and groovy as fuck.
Hearing The Velvet Underground on a pub jukebox in my early teenage years was nothing short of illuminating, lighting up my imagination whilst mixing with burgeoning hormones. The perfect time to discover them, and they seemed like a mythical band slipping slightly fairytale dark weirdness into my ears.
I think I thought of this album as a blend of lullabies being fed through a cheese grater. From that point on, I was devoted to a drone.
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Tricky – 'Maxinquaye'
'Black Steel' was the single I just couldn't take off repeat, and led me to this debut album. The atmosphere is incredible; electric and sensual. Lots of space – I don't think I'd quite heard production like that before.
I loved Massive Attack too, and realised there was a connection and shared lineage, but this album – particularly with Martina and Goldfrapp's vocals – seemed more sonically delicate and spare, it was a curiosity and mysterious. The track 'Pumpkin' used to just crush me. I've never ever got tired of this record.
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Nirvana – 'Incesticide'
I thought it was so fucking cool that they brought this out, a kind of 'between-albums-album' with some B-sides on and those amazingly romantic, sexy covers of The Vaselines' songs from Peel Sessions. I found those particularly beautiful, and maybe didn't pick up on the heroin context at the time (if there is one?).
I liked how the production took a side-step on this album, and that these weren't huge sonic rockers, I took this as a glimpse into what the band (or mainly Kurt, perhaps) was into and showed some diversity. 'Dive' is fucking ridiculously good and heavy of course.
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E.S.G. – 'A South Bronx Story'
This was a comp/re-release type affair that came out via part of Soul Jazz Records in 2000 but I probably didn't hear about until 2004 or something. I was just starting to play a lot of 'proper 'gigs for the first time, and this got played an awful lot back at my flat during what were messy after-aftershows.
Unique female-fronted funk! It's pretty well known now and you realise so many parts of it have been sampled, and that's because its so fucking great. Insanely groovy but with zero frills. Realness! I feel like I'm in a rehearsal room with them, encircled with percussion and getting hypnotised.
I played this so much about 15 years ago and feel like every spin was a blessing. Ha!
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Bjork – 'Homogenic'
This was the album that tattooed a love for Bjork across my heart. I was already a big fan of hers and had seen her several times but when this came out, I had just left home and started college, and so it ushered in brand new independence and autonomy like no other soundtrack could do.
'Hunter' seemed to have been written just for me at this point in my life, heralding the new epoch I was stepping into. The album has an atmosphere of expectancy, and I felt connected to lyrics of adventure mixed with slight fear. This is simply a stunning set of songs and I feel pretty moved remembering what I was like when this came out; who was it I wanted to become? I now remember how scared and un-ready I was to understand what I was really doing for the few years around this time. Ahhh.
I also remember listening to this the first week it came out, as I drove through intensely thick fog with my buddy. We were both absolutely shitting it, and somehow survived the journey.
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Liela Moss will release new album 'My Name Is Safe In Your Mouth' on November 9th.
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