Friday, July 31, 2009

Open Thread Friday: What Song or Artist Got You Into Electronic Music?






















I thought I'd do another one of these since the last one got such a good response. What was the song or artist that got you interested in electronic music in the first place?

I'm still surprised with how vividly I remember mine. I was 8 years old and my family was visiting my aunt and uncle in the midwest. It was a fall day and my cousins and I were playing on their trampoline in the back yard. We had a radio playing some Top 40 type countdown show and this was the week that Gary Numan's "Cars" first charted in the US. When I first heard those Polymoog strings and the white noise clap sounds I froze and asked my cousins what instrument made that sound. They didn't know, and I wouldn't know until a few years later, all I knew is that whatever made those sounds was something I wanted to hear more of.


Cut to almost 30 years later and now I make my living making electronic music. I often wonder how differently my life might have turned out if we hadn't had the radio turned on that day.

30 comments:

Steve said...

Some time in the late 70's my dad's best childhood friend came to stay with us for a few weeks. As a thank you he gave my parents LP copies of Jean Michel Jarre's Oxygene and Tomita's recording of Holst's "The Planets". Mom and Dad were not impressed, but my brother and I wore the grooves off of both records in about a month. While really liked the music, I didn't dig the long haired nerdy knob twiddling hobbit image that went with it at all.

A couple of years later there was a syndicated radio show called "Rock over London" that featured new wave music. I remember the first time I heard the DJ play Killing Joke's "The Wait" and the hair standing up on the back of neck. Even better, I remember the first time I saw a picture of Jaz Coleman's contorted warpainted face in Trouser Press magazine and thinking "finally- being keyboard player is *cool*."

Stephen said...

You know I have spent much of my early life listening to alot of electronic music...but I never really differentiated it from any other type.

but I can say what began my love of it and complete understanding of practically my musical tastes was a listening to the mortal kombat soundtrack a million times...and trying to find artists like the ones on the album.....heh I can say I was about around the same age.....then again I did have a obesssion with "rhythm is a dancer" and "twilight zone remix" that predates my love of the MK soundtrack.

Cheers,
Steve

dj mad wax said...

back in 1992, my cousin was DJing in a small town on the north baltic coast in Poland. He was mixing with cassette decks, and the tune that set me off on a now 15 year electronic music affair was

U96 "Das Boot"

Paul said...

I had heard a lot of music with electronic components in it, but the first wholly electronic album I ever bought and heard was the first Excursions in Ambience compilation on Caroline/Astralwerks. The artist listing is a who's who of 1990 ambient house and led directly to my subsequent purchase of albums by FSOL, Higher Intelligence Agency, Ultramarine, Banco de Gaia and the Orb. You could do a lot worse than build an electronica collection around just those 5 artists!

Paul

kent said...

Kraftwerk. Autobahn came out when I was in High School and actually got played on pop radio, in rotation with Stevie Wonder, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alice Cooper and Foghat. That led to an obsession with finding other stuff in that vein like Tangerine Dream...

Not strictly 'electronic', but the first Roxy Music album, with Eno's contributions also made a big impression. That and the hippy dude who got a grant to bring an EMS Synthi into schools to talk about synthesizers.

Anu said...

Carlos - Switched-On Bach.
Jarre - Oxygene. Heard it when I was 7.
Tomita - Kosmos (1978).
Kraftwerk - The Man-Machine (1978). Heard "The Robots" on public radio. Never forgot it.
Numan - Cars (1979). Creepy and catchy!

At that point, I knew I loved music and technology. When I heard new wave and early rap stuff incorporating said technology, I said "THAT is what I want do."

Jack Astro said...

Teh first "cool" electronic music I remember hearing was the Forbidden Planet stk.

Many years later, listening to The Faint got me to buy a synthesizer. :)

Vlad said...

Growing up behind the Iron curtain meant little to no chance of hearing Gary Numan on the radio. Most Western LPs were smuggled into the country and then taped until unlistenable condition, and nearly everything seemed exciting to me: Iron Maiden to Depeche Mode, Genesis to King Crimson, whatever there was. But I do remember the first time I felt excited by the synth sound. It was Manfred Mann's Earth Band Watch LP, for some reason thought harmless by the Soviet censors and issued by the state-owned Melodiya label. I had that LP as a present from mom, for my 11th or 12th birthday I think. It's a rather lame prog-rock record, but on side 2 there are two live covers: Martha's Madman and Dylan's Mighty Quinn. I still think they're incredible -- lengthy Moog and probably Yamaha CS80 freakouts, it was the sound I never heard before and I was absolutely flabbergasted, if that's the right word. Practically, it was the record that started my interest in music per se. And yes I still own a copy -- though now it's a CD:)
The first time I thought about getting a synth was after I heard the first Pet Shop Boys album. Waht excited me, was that it was only two guys -- one singing, one playing. I liked the idea of such a partnership, but I could hardly afford any synth at the time (besides, there wasn't many on sale -- even Soviet-made ones were quite hard to find). I ended up in a punk/indie-band in a few years, when in college.

kleer001 said...

Ray Lynch's Celestial Soda Pop. I borrowed it from a friend in high school. The arpeggios and delay effects just freaked out my 13 year old brain.
I even went so far as to copy it to a tape over and over again.

GaryG said...

There were so many chart acts in the early eighties making great electronic music that it's hard to pinpoint a definitive influence. Although... :) seeing Thomas Dolby performing 'Windpower' on TOTP was pretty amazing, had never seen/heard anything like it before.

Bryce Fischer said...

Kraftwerk - The Man Machine!

Seeing Keith Emerson perform live made me realize that a Keyboardist did'nt have to be stuck in the back.

Anonymous said...

My father was always listening to "studio bands" in the late 70's, so I heard and gained an appreciation for synths and studio effects early on. But what really tuned me in was also Gary Numan's "Cars" (imagine that!). I was 5 (1980?), we were driving home from picking my mother up from work, and it came on the local AM radio station they were listening to, and even on AM it sounded new and fresh and otherworldly.

My father had something against male singers/pop stars that wore make-up, and unfortunately that tainted my vision for many years to come (but I was always fascinated by anyone, even standard rock bands, using anything electronic). It wasn't until DM's Violator and soon after, Front 242, that I seriously got interested again.

But yeah..."Cars" was a pivotal moment for me, too...

~Audiopath~

Joel Corriveau said...

I still remember when I first heard Daft Punk's "Da Funk." I was away at summer camp (I had a pretty sheltered up-bringing).

That song was candy for my ears. I couldn't hear it enough.

Korvis said...

For me it was Depeche Mode ....thats when i got my 1st keyboard the SK-1 and spent months figuring out how to play songs from Some Great Reward.

Seamus said...

For me, it was The White Room by the KLF. I must have been 5 or 6 years old when I first heard it, and it's still an absolutely phenomenal electronic album.
Fast-forward through a childhood of listening to stuff like The Orb, Underworld, Orbital and the like, I think the first time I ever truly wondered how it was actually created was when I listened to 'Play' by Moby. Many people seem to deride him but I seriously think 'play' is one of the most finely-crafted albums I've ever heard.

amoeba said...

i guess i'd have to say it was the Cars first album (what a perfect all-around record). not really electronic per se, but moving in stereo opened some doors for sure.

then the whole late 70s/early 80s explosion happened, and there are way too many things to pick out. ultravox, OMD, and of course gary numan.

but even before that, pink floyd. always wondered where some of those sounds had come from...

then in 81 i got my first synth, an SH-09, which is still sitting lovingly right here by my side. synths and the music made with them have been a very expensive obsession ever since!

Mike said...

When I was 14, some friends were playing Skinny Puppy's "Rabies" CD and it was so unlike anything I had ever heard before I was just fascinated. I had been involved in music since age 8 starting with string bass, then tenor sax for a while and then guitar at age 12, and I could not comprehend this strange and bizarre music because I had no reference point for it. Soon after that, my mom got involved with a Columbia House get 12 CDs for a penny thing and asked me if I wanted anything. Skinny Puppy's "Last Rights" was the only thing on the list that interested me so I got that and it just blew my mind even more - so little of what was going on musically made sense to me that I just wanted to learn all I could. Some friends turned me onto freeware tracking programs like ScreamTracker and ImpulseTracker to make electronic music and I did my best to make chaotic industrial music using those for a few years before getting my first sampler at age 17.

Anonymous said...

This is really clear for me. It was "Ghosts" by Japan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNYYRl86R4g

It was so sonically radical, and it got to Number 5 in the UK singles chart. There was a moment in the early 80s in the UK where really odd-sounding songs - almost anti-songs - somehow got into the pop charts. Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" got to Number 2, and it's almost as weird.

Felipe Boreli Filho said...

New Order and Depeche Mode for me... in the late 80'!

Ttam Troll said...

For me, it was actually a movie that turned me onto pure electronic music. While I had been getting "into" synths by listening to early '80s progressive rock like Marillion, Twelfth Night, and Pallas, it wasn't until 1983 when I saw Michael Mann's movie The Keep (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Keep_(film)) and heard the music of Tangerine Dream that I really discovered electronic music. I rushed out and picked up a copy of Tangerine Dream - Exit on vinyl and have never looked back.

Ttam Troll
Floating Fish Studios/Any Questions?

Craig M. said...

The first song with synths that really struck me was "I, Robot" by The Alan Parsons Project. The first electronic music that brought me fully into that genre was the album 'Front by Front' by Front 242

mangadrive said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mangadrive said...

The first actual song I can recall hearing in my youth and being able to relate name,artist and everything was "Welcome to the Machine" by Pink Floyd. Lets just say thats a hell of a way to start off a life that goes from a guitarist that played in blues, jazz, metal, and even christian bands up to later where a solo electronic musician ends up dropping hard psytrance.


...but the real credit goes to:

"Urbal Beats Vol. 1"

I had always noodled with keyboards and guitars. Up until that point I had been in several bands and music was very much an exploratory stage in my life. I'd spend whole paychecks on CDs and just randomly pick stuff out based on cover, reviews, word of mouth or anything since the internet was'nt much of a factor yet for music buyers. (ah the good ole days). I met a guy that was into raving and exposed me to Techno so the hunt perused after a night of partying. I came home with this CD one day and it just blew me away. I ended up buying everything I could find off the artists based on and around this CD, especially Prodigy and well.. along comes mangadrive.

I've never been one to say I'm really into 'this genre or that one' and can't give sole credit to any genre for influencing me the way late 90's techno did. A lot of my older friends that knew me as a metal guitarist don't really understand the change and you can't ever explain it to people, but that album really dropped the bomb on me. Combined with the fact I ended up with a 303 and misc drum machines before computer music took off because of this says a lot. The computer music just got more assessable and leaps and bounds better over the years.Now its just an everyday staple of my life.

Darren said...

Gary Numan "Cars" was my introduction to electronic music. I simply had never hear danything like it. It wasthe first 45 i ever specifically asked my mom to buy for me.

While "cars" was the trigger, the b-side, "I Die U Die" was the one I absolutely fell in love with.

Bloodfetish said...

Ironically for me it was Gary Numan, but it was his 2000 album Pure.

Heard my Dad playing it and three days later started singing the chrous to 'My Jesus' so I asked my dad if I could borrow the album heard the opening title track with its Korg M1 'Beauty' Piano melody sent shivers up my neck....

Few weeks later saw him in concert blew me away.

I was 11.

Anonymous said...

Eurythmics "Sweet Dreams" was my first crush, followed by Enya's Orinoco Flow". But I didn't go for full electronic stuff until Chem. bros, "Dig your own hole"

lineofcontrol said...

great thread here. thanks all for the memories.

i had to think long and hard about this one, and then i remembered...

my best friend's older sister used to love Duran Duran. we never really listened to them, but we liked to wind her up by calling the lead singer Simon Le Bum ! thinking we were very witty at the age of 9.
it was 1983 and they had just released "7 and the Ragged Tiger"- the 2nd last track on the b-side was an instrumental called Tiger Tiger. we finally had a listen to it one day and were amazed. it was all synths and i had never heard anything like it before in my life. it was the start of something beautiful.

soon Depeche Mode and then Kraftwerk and onto all sorts of electronica goodies...

Mad Al said...

Ah yes, those moments that change lives...

1984 - Depeche Mode, "People Are People" - and then the whole rest of the "Some Great Reward" album. Never knew music could sound like that.

1987 - Depeche Mode, "Strangelove"/"Behind the Wheel" - and, again, the whole "For the Masses" album. Started obsessively collecting all DM 12", dissecting the various synth lines on my parents' piano.

1990 - Skinny Puppy, "Too Dark Park" - listened to this album on headphones, completely blew my mind (still does). About a month later, I bought my first synth (a used Casio CZ-101).

Followed by many fun filled years scaring the neighbours with strange sounds...

troy said...

Easy - "Doctor Who" theme in the 70s by BBC Radiophonic workshop.

~j said...

it was sometime in the early-to-mid 90's, and i used to be convinced that making music with electronics was somehow inferior to making music with classical or traditional instruments.

a friend of mine and i were debating whether or not good music could be created with electronic elements, and he brought up the argument that "a guitar will always sound like a guitar, but an electron can sound like anything." and since i had been listening to a lot of punk rock, he pulled out some industrial for me to listen to.

nine inch nails - "sin"