We've asked our writers and editors to put together a playlist that reflects, or inspired the work they've done with Influx Press. Editor and co-founder Gary kicks things off...
This is a list of songs that inspired me whilst putting together the two Influx Press anthologies, Acquired for Development By . . . and Connecting Nothing with Something, and my own two pieces in the books, ‘Tautologies’ and ‘The Exhibition’. Both stories either directly reference the songs on this list, or were inspired by them in some way. This playlist also reflects my obvious love of punk, ska, reggae and folk music.
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1. Inner Terrestrials – ‘Smoke’
The ITs are one of my all time favourite bands, the best example of the political-punk/ska/folk/dub crossover there is and the best live band you’ll ever see. Coming out the free festival/traveller scene of the nineties they’ve been going for 18 years with no sign of slowing down. I can’t recommend them enough. To me, this is the sound of the Hackney squat parties described in Acquired For Development By..., making it the perfect start to this playlist. Like all the best political music, you can dance to it. It bigs up South London, but nobody’s perfect...
2. Roy Ellis aka Mr.Symarip – ‘One Way Ticket to the Moon’
Roy Ellis was the singer of Symarip, one of the very first skinhead reggae bands, songs like ‘Skinhead Moonstomp’ and ‘Skinhead Girl’ being almost universal classics that perfectly sum up the spirit of ’69 ska sound. This track is off one of his much later solo albums, a call back to ‘Skinhead Moonstomp, and in my opinion is one of the greatest ska songs in existence. Proof that not all skinhead music is dodgy white geezers playing Oi!
3. The Horses of the Gods – ‘John Barleycorn’
“Three men came down from Kent / To plough for wheat and rye / And they made a vow / A solemn vow/ John Barleycorn should die.” This is a version of the old folk song ‘John Barleycorn’. I’m really interested in weird British folk traditions that never seem to quite die, and this song captures that feeling perfectly. John Barleycorn is a folk figure akin to the Green Man, the wodewose etc, in this case personifying barley and the booze we make from it. So a weird folk song that mentions Kent, is about boozing and nature springing up again where it’s not wanted make it the perfect choice for this list. Folk music that’s as far away from rubbish like Mumford & Sons as you can get and a song I listen to whenever I’m in a Wicker Man / A Field in England kind of mood.
4. Chas and Dave – ‘Margate’
“...you can keep the Costa Brava, I’m telling ya mate I’d rather have a day down Margate with all me family.” It’s a song about going to Margate with the family. Self-explanatory. I found it interesting that this addresses the issue of people beginning to take cheap package flights in favour of holidaying on the English coast. Quoted directly in ‘The Exhibition’.
5. The Restarts – ‘N16’
“My body's sore / But I just want more / Dead brain, my head's in pain / Tonight we'll drink again / Weekend in N16” A hardcore punk song about going a weekend bender in N16. Sums up my life for about five years and is directly referenced in ‘Tautologies’. I don’t really expect anyone else to like this kind of punk rock, but I love it.
6. The Jam – ‘That’s Entertainment’
“Watching the telly and thinking 'bout your holidays” I’m not actually the biggest fan of The Jam, but I always thought this song was brilliant. It completely captures how oppressive a city like London can feel at times.
7. Aswad – ‘Warrior Charge’
The best reggae track I’ve ever heard, from the soundtrack to the 1980 film Babylon, which anyone with an interest in the reggae soundsystems or London needs to watch. Even better than Aswad’s ‘Don’t Turn Around’…
8. New Town Kings – ‘La La World’
A contemporary ska-band from the new towns in Essex. It’s a great ska track. Simple.
9. Bad Manners – ‘Skinhead Love Affair’
“I took her down the last resort / She nicked a shirt, I went to court” I had to put Bad Manners on this list, for many reasons. Firstly, Buster Bloodvessel ran a hotel for ‘larger’ customers in Margate called Fatty Towers, until 1998. Secondly, I simply like Bad Manners and this song makes me smile. Thirdly, this relates to a number of topics in my story ‘The Exhibition’, mentions The Last Resort, ballroom gigs and a number of other sub-cultural things mentioned in the story. Poor old Buster cries at the end.
10. Burial – ‘UK’
Like all white people who know nothing about dance music, I like Burial. This is a nice ambient piece, incredibly melancholy which is the right tone for a song called ‘UK’. This is ‘after the party and the comedown’s kicking in’ type music, a feeling I try and get across in my writing.
11. Hard Skin – ‘Beer and Fags’
Hard Skin were a band who started as an affectionate pisstake of the Oi! and street-punk scene (taking their cues from the Cockney Rejects, and, well, the Cockney Rejects) who ended up writing better songs than any of the bands they were spoofing and becoming one of the most loved institutions in the UK punk scene. If this song doesn’t cheer you up then there’s no hope for you. They did a song with Joanna Newsom recently. Go figure.
12. Citizen Fish – ‘Wake Up’
“As disbelief in systems tries to reason with insistence / That the way you think is something to be classified as bad /It will send you down the learning curve/ From ‘I accept’ to ‘I deserve’.” Another political ska-punk song. Vocalist Dick Lucas (also of Subhumans and Culture Shock) is one of the very best lyricists out there, definitely as influential on my thinking as any novel or academic text. I could have chosen any number of songs, but ‘Wake Up’ shows Citizen Fish at their best.
13. The Levellers – ‘Miles Away’
“I always hoped this place might stay the same.” Tragically, I like The Levellers. This is a great simple folk song written at the time of the road protests in the mid-nineties. To me it succinctly sums up a huge number of the ideological divisions in the country and the anxiety of being in a landscape in constant change.
14. The Filaments – ‘Land of Lions’ A pure ‘London pride’ song about unity in Tower Hamlets. The Filaments are another UK band coming out of the street-punk/ska scene, and this song cheers me up endlessly. It makes me happy to be a Londoner.
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