Playlist: Under the Influence with Matt Sturgis

Posted: by The Editor

Matt Sturgis is a man of many talents, who’s been in too many bands to count– including Hillary Chillton, Panormaic, Model Talk, No Win, Eagle Rock, The Creepy Eepys and more. His latest venture, a solo one, is a patchwork of progress. In a single release, Mommy Issues/Daddy’s House, a double EP, the listener experiences Matt at multiple different points in time. His growth both as a musician and as a person shines throughout release’s entirety, and gives it a sense of cohesion. Matt sat down for us and made a playlist, giving us some insight into the songs that inspired the release. Read and listen below.

Listen to Mommy Issues/Daddy’s House HERE.

Order it on tape from Pacific Nature Records HERE

Brain≠Heart by Analog Rebellion

first on this list because Analog Rebellion was the first solo artist to make me realize that doing everything yourself was not only possible, but in some cases preferable. Dan Hunter writes and produces some giant songs from his tiny Texas home, and discovering his music definitely inspired me to start taking mine a little more seriously.

Spiderwebs by No Doubt

this is one of the first songs i remember ever consciously hearing and it still blows me away just as much as it did as a kid. the structure, the lyricism, the production, the harmonies, the subtle horns, everything about this song is just pretty much perfect.

Begin to Start by MxPx

being raised christian i was brought up sheltered from a lot of music, however MxPx was just christian enough for my parents to let me get this album. it was pretty much the only introduction to punk (or close enough to it) that i was lucky enough to stumble upon as a kid, and i’ll always have a soft spot for this album, this band, and the door they opened for me.

4- Mother and Child Reunion by Paul Simon

after discovering loud and angry songs, my dad tried showing me more less loud and less angry songs from his collection, and i was drawn to Paul Simon’s s/t album pretty much as soon as i heard those first few snares into that staccato guitar and warm organ. Also this song is about killing oneself to be reunited with one’s dead mother, perfectly juxtaposing the dark message with some groovy and uplifting pop melody.

I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt

this was one of the first songs to ever make me feel something. i didn’t know what it was that i felt, but something about the sincere rasp in Bonnie’s vocal delivery, as well as the whole orchestration just barely tickling all the right emotions, really struck as loud a chord in younger me as it still does today.

2+2=5 by Radiohead

the first Radiohead song i heard, and ostensibly the first song i heard to introduce me to ~indie music~ or whatever. before hearing this, i had listened to pretty much only straight-forward and cyclical pop songs with refrains, simple beat division, etc. but after checking out this album from Upland Public Library in 6th grade, my horizons were completely expanded as to what was possible with guitars, drums, synths, songwriting, the whole noisy enchilada.

Sleeping Beauty by Menomena

skip to shortly after graduating high school, i’m playing in a post-hardcore band and trying to get famous by playing the chain reaction, and then along comes Menomena. this band is my favorite band ever because of their true DIY ethic (handbinding flipbooks for liner notes, recording everything with software they wrote themselves, producing and playing every instrument just the three of them) as well as their lush and extravagant, yet at the same time restrained and sensible orchestrations.

Criticism as Inspiration by Pedro the Lion

i was first introduced to this band in junior high when i was probably too immature to have my attention kept by the slow, pulsing pace of this or most Pedro the Lion songs, but finally revisited them after several recommendations and i’m so disappointed in myself for not getting it sooner. David Bazan is masterful at making very little have immense sonic and emotional impact.

Will Calls by Grizzly Bear

i first heard Grizzly Bear after everyone had already heard that one song and put it in commercials and junk, i’m glad i dug deeper as each album of theirs is a beautiful experiment in songwriting and production vastly different the next. i find myself fixated and trying to emulate certain things Daniel Rossen does on guitar or Chris Bear does on drums, but one person will never be as tight as four people as deep in the pocket as they are.

Almost Crimes by Broken Social Scene

shortly after our mom passed, my sister let me borrow her copy of this album and i’m surprised and a little disappointed it took me so long to discover this football team of a band. they were one of the first bands i heard bring to so gracefully straddle the line between “punk” and “indie” or whatever, and this album as well as their s/t are still in heavy rotation of things i listen to and try to rip off.

Tikwid by Animal Collective

i’d be remiss if i didn’t include an Animal Collective song, as they have definitely altered how i view songwriting, music, as well as life in general. this song, as are pretty much all of their songs, is like an overwhelming burst of an entire emotional spectrum, and the way that they twist their words and harmonize with each other while crafting unconventional tones into conventional pop songs still leaves me floored. also a very good band to listen to on hallucinogens.

Fiya by tUnE-yArDs

i didn’t discover this album until i started recording more of my own things, but it couldn’t have come to me at a better time. tUnE-yArDs do a flawless job maintaining the balance between stripped down singer-songwriter and producer of sonically lush soundscapes, and this song is a prime example of the soundscape this album creates. also the fact it was recorded on the software i was using at the time only inspires me to keep working regardless of equipment.

Chaos of the Galaxy/Happy Man by Sparklehorse

there was night shortly after moving into the palisades that Jeremy and i drank a substantial amount of whiskey and listened to all the saddest artists we could think of, i’m surprised that i hadn’t heard Sparklehorse before that night saddened that i didn’t know him sooner. Mark Linkous’ production and songwriting aren’t groundbreaking or anything, but his songs are always such honest evaluations of human existence and all that it brings- beauty, pain, joy, depression, rapture, suicide. also always a sucker for a solo artist under a clever moniker.

Old Bones by Canyons

cut to when i stop caring about bands that aren’t local or playing shows that cost more than $10. i’m not entirely sure where it came from, but one of Canyons’ first cassettes made its way into our house and i was immediately hooked. a DIY band from a couple towns over playing with all these loud punk bands, but bringing such dynamic sensibility to the music and lyrics that i hadn’t yet found from other bands in the scene. also nic is probably my favorite drummer to watch ever (if u know, u KNOW).

Wormhole-Blueprint by Summer Vacation

i guess this is where i should mention that i stumbled into our scene because of the bands that gained the most attention like FIDLAR, Joyce Manor, Pangea, etc, but there was one band that always opened for them and many others that always killed the show for me before the headliner could play. the members of Summer Vacay are all doing great things after their split (Winter Break and Pinned in Place are two of my absolute favorite local bands), but Condition will always hold a special place in my heart and still retains all the magic it did when i first found it.

Just One More Thing by Dear Nora

i used to not really care about rarities/b-sides/other fun things that artists release along with “proper” albums, but one day a friend sent me a zip of Dear Nora’s Three States and i’m not sure what made me stray from my usual prejudgment but i’m so glad i did. this album is such a heartfelt and sincere collection of intimate stories, and this song particularly to me is a perfect example of fitting a larger, complex idea into just a few simple words on a few short, sweet chords.

Dishes by Pulp by Jeff Rosenstock

it’s kind of hard to be an individual making music in the scene we’re in and not be inspired by Jeff Rosenstock. BTMI! was such an important thing when i discovered them (as they were doing their last tour ever of course), and i’m still constantly in awe of how Jeff phrases his fear, anxiety, insecurity, depression, as well as his optimism, exuberance (sometimes all in the course of just half a song) so honestly and succinctly while enthusiastically losing his shit to the music. also i love a good cover and his take on this Pulp jam is so clever.

Escape Routes by My Brightest Diamond

i’ll talk about Sufjan Stevens next, but should talk about Shara Warden first, she played in his band for many of the earlier tours and was always such an entertaining and talented performer to watch add subtle yet necessary touches to his songs. this album contains some of the most brilliant, gorgeous orchestration and profoundly written lyrics spanning subjects both universal and intimate, and this song particularly has been a huge source of comfort to me since one night that Jeremy and i were on a very strange acid trip. the internet somehow knew we needed to hear it and for five minutes all was wonderful with the world.

Vito’s Ordination Song by Sufjan Stevens

the biggest inspiration i found to practice playing music more growing up came as soon as i found Sufjan’s “Michigan.” i had heard some of his earlier more stripped down albums, but when i bought this cd and read the liner notes containing few other musicians besides himself playing about thirty things, i was simultaneously inspired by his craftsmanship and discouraged by how perfect this album and each album that followed is. still baffled by how naturally his music seems to flow from him.

In the Backseat by Arcade Fire

one of the techs in my high school video production class uploaded about a terabyte of music to the network hard drive and i promptly ripped as much of it as i could. there was a lot of good stuff, but nothing impacted me as greatly as the Arcade Fire’s “Funeral.” this album was on heavy rotation through all of high school, college, during my mom’s treatments, times of pure happiness, times of crippling depression, just about any time between, and this song in particular is such an emotional adventure dancing between joy, grief, and optimism all the way until the last few plucked strings have faded to a whisper.

Thanks for reading/listening to this if you did. I wish Spotify had Peter Gabriel (go listen to his first album it fucking RIPS). – Matt