Tag Archives: Claude Debussy

Tracks Of My Teens: Queen Alaska

29 Jul

Welcome one and all to the revival of a fun feature we last ran back in 2013, back when the world seemed a much simpler place, Tracks Of My Teens.

The concept is fairly straightforward, all of us love music for one reason or another and there are often particular songs that sparked that off. Tracks Of My Teens is a place where singers, artists and others in the industry can share three of those special songs with us and describe what it was that had such a profound impact on their life, or the special and important memories that they associate with them.

Previous editions can be viewed here and to start this reboot we get to delve into the mind of exciting new electro-pop artist, Queen Alaska.

Claude Debussy – “Arabesque”

In my teen years I didn’t listen to a lot of pop music. The songs on the morning radio in the bathroom didn’t do much to me, I rather listened to the french radio of my mother or the very informative german national radio station that my father liked to listen to. What really touched me on deeper levels was the music I got to know through the weekly piano lessons. Fréderic Chopin and Claude Debussy were my favourite composers to play and listen to. I quickly fell in love with the harmonic diversity of Debussy, all his playful layers building soundscapes so modern for his time but still dreamy and sentimental. I guess this is where I developed my desire for layers! The sound aesthetic of the impressionism in general influences my style until today (won’t be able to deny that when the album is out..).

Hearing Debussy’s “Arabesque” makes me remember calm and sunny afternoons at home as a child / young teen. My older sister learned this piece on the piano some years before I did. The melodies were softly dancing from one corner to the other through our wooden-stony house near the forest.

Air – “Run”

Ok, eventually I also discovered pop music for myself! It was after I visited my older cousin Annika and her boyfriend in the big city up north, like I did every summer as a teen girl. For the long train ride back home they gave me some of their CDs, the best ones, they said. One of them went straight to my heart – I had never heard music like this before! And I loved every little thing about it: the sounds of these instruments, harmonic changes, melodies, loops, these beats, the simplicity and complexity at once, vibes… It was Moon Safari by Air. My adoration for analogue synths and electronic aesthetics was born. As well until today a huge influence for producing own music. It is hard to choose only one of the songs – Moon Safari functions as one whole piece. So for now I pick a song from a later album called Talkie Walkie which I loved just as much. “Run” is full of loops, pitched voices, and beautiful harmonic changes – my favourite things! 1:00min – 1:12 -> listen closely, so cleverly beautiful.

Steve Reich – “Music for 18 Musicians”

It isn’t easy to only choose one more piece of music now. I could go further back in time when I was still a child, playing Pachelbel’s Canon on my wooden flute. I seriously loved it and didn’t stop playing it for years. This piece might sound a bit cheesy nowadays but keeping in mind that it was written in the epoch of Baroque around 1690 (!!) – it makes it genius. J.S. Bach’s fugues, like the little one in G minor, attract me because of the same reason: the interaction of different voices that all have the same importance. My song “Fuge” that will be released on the first part of my album Interlude of the Inner Voice refers to that.

I could also pick the song that made me start producing music when I was 18: Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” – just wanted to sound like that. But it is too close to Air so I now choose a composer that I discovered at the very end of my teen years / beginning of ‘adulthood‘ (hope that still counts): Steve Reich. A whole new horizon opened up when I first discovered his sound and his approach to music. It seemed as if he took Debussy’s soundscape and made it into electronic music.. Many years before Techno was actually born. I was lucky to listen to “Music for 18 Musicians” live at Kraftwerk, Berlin, some years ago – the best music in concert experience I’ve ever had.
Here, live in Japan, with Steve Reich on the piano:

A huge thank you to Queen Alaska for taking part and kicking us back off. Her debut single, “Under My Skin” is out below and fantastically, you can actually hear the influence of the artists and tracks above. It’s a multi-layered, glitchy and icy dream world that swirls hypnotically as you listen. We predict big and exciting things for this new artist in the coming months and years.

”Under My Skin” is out now and available to buy on iTunes.Her debut EP, ‘Interlude of the Inner Voice I/II’ is due for release later this year.

Get to know Queen Alaska: Website / Facebook