The sounds that ripple through new album 'Borderland State'...
J Churcher

It took J Churcher almost two years of work, almost two years of continual writing, before his debut album clicked into place.

Hooking up with producer Dreamtrak, the songwriter managed to bring his material into focus, finding fresh insight in his work.

Out now, debut album 'Borderland State' is a rich, cinematic journey, a record of breadth and depth that underlines his blossoming talent.

Clash invited J Churcher to describe a few of the Influences in his music.

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Emmylou Harris - ‘Wrecking Ball’

This song is important because it contains three musicians who have had a big influence on the way that I write and record. I hadn’t heard a lot of Emmylou Harris before I was introduced to this record. She has the most soulful country twang to her voice, which I fell in love, along with the spacious, dreamy production. I listened to this album a lot on a trip to Canada one summer, it fitted in perfectly with the big skies and epic scenery. Great records tend to mould themselves around scenery in this way.

After a couple of months of listening continually to the record I found out that 'Wrecking Ball' was written by Neil Young. It didn’t really come as a surprise, it’s a classic Young song full of romance and heartbreak. Daniel Lanois produced the record and brought to it his characteristic spacious and reverb-laden style something which I have tried to recreate on 'Borderland State'.

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Daniel Lanois - ‘The Maker’

After listening to the Emmylou Harris record I started researching producer Daniel Lanois, mainly because I’m such a big Neil Young fan and I was interested in the work that they had done together. I found out that he was a recording artist in his own right, and had written a song called 'The Maker'. It has such a classic, timeless melody, that’s at once instantly familiar and somehow impossible to place. I love how smooth his vocals are and how high in the mix they sit. The drum arrangement is fantastic.

At 3:04 Aaron Neville - one of the great voices of all time - makes a guest appearance, elevating this track to a place of near ecstasy.

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Big Star - ‘Kangaroo’

To earn money on the side whilst writing ‘Borderland State’ I started working as a painter and decorator. It was quite a rewarding job but it could also be mundane and repetitive. It was, however, a great way to listen music. You get through an artists whole back catalogue in a single day. There was one album that I was always drawn to, and that was ‘Filigree And Shadow’ by This Mortal Coil. It’s not only one of the best covers album ever recorded, but introduced me to so many great artists.

One of the songs on there was ‘Kangaroo’ by Big Star. The opening lyric “I first saw you, you had on blue jeans”, and its open naivety, always stuck with me. There are many versions of this song - one being a brilliant cover by Jeff Buckley. I love them all but chose the Big Star version (off the album 'Third') because Big Star have had such an influence on ‘Borderland State’.

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Deftones - ‘Minerva’

'Minerva', in my opinion, is one of the greatest “heavy” tracks ever recorded. It is both bruising and beautiful - in a way that all great shoe gaze tracks are - yet also strangely anthemic. You can hear the influence of this track most obviously in ‘Yesterday’, through the guitar sounds and repetitive drum patterns, and yet its influence perhaps bleeds through the entire album.

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Bob Dylan - ‘Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid’

I’ve chosen an entire album here, as it’s difficult to chose one track from an album that tells such a cohesive and beautiful story. There are numerous layers at work in this album - Dylan both appeared as an actor within the film, performed music within its diegesis, and recorded this gorgeous album - which along with ‘Desire’, is perhaps my favourite Dylan album.

I think these multiple layers reward further listening and viewing, giving this album a really strong sense of visuality, which is something I aspire to create with my music. ’Final Theme’ is a particularly evocative and romantic piece, and like a great Morricone track uses wind instruments that ring out long after the film has ended.

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J Churcher's new album 'Borderland State' is out now.

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