Friday Playlist with Justin Spenner
Happy Friday Playlist friends! Let’s get your ears weird.
I wanted to share with you some of the music that inspired the conception, creation, and production of I Enter As A Stranger. The thing is, nine of us worked together to create this, so it feels a bit odd to be DJ’ing for everyone else. So, here’s the solution: we put together a collaborative playlist featuring the tracks that inspired us through this process! I’m still digging through a trove of artists I didn’t know existed- I hope the same for you.
So, read my music musings below, but bust up your Spotify algorithm by getting this playlist on shuffle: Winter Inspirado
I’m gonna start this out with an absolute dirgey banger from the doom metal staple Windhand. This track was responsible for the attic aesthetic throughout I Enter As A Stranger. Sequoia and I filmed my stuff at the tail end of an eight hour day, and this album (Soma) was our soundtrack. Orchard puts me in on the introspect- something about Dorthia Cottrell’s crooning gets me in tune with my gut.
2. Captain Marvel- Chick Corea
The world lost a modern-day Mozart in Chick Corea. If you don’t know him, get thee to his groundbreaking album Light As A Feather. Chick almost single handedly brought Latin complexity into American mainstream jazz, and he did it the right way: He attended shows, asked for lessons, hired his teachers, and always deferred. There are endless stories of the titans of fusion looking offstage and seeing Chick, crouched on his haunches, eyes glued to the left hand of the keys. We should all be 2% of Chick.
3. Drunkship of Lanterns- The Mars Volta
This track is in the same complexity vein as Chick Corea- just post-hardcore AF. The soaring vocals, the structured abandon, lyrics housed in the head and the heart… I just want to be in a band. Luckily, that’s what this collaboration felt like. Someone brings the riff, someone writes the lyrics, someone gives the structure, and then once it’s all smudged up you go at it again. Music like this is what I think classical music culture sorely lacks: the license to fail upwards. During the conceptualization of I Enter As A Stranger, songs like this allowed me to heavily lean away from tradition and expectation. I think the product shows.
4. Black Angels, 13 Images from the Dark Land- George Crumb
This is a brand new track for me. I host a podcast called Is This Music?!?!, and my first guest, Joey Crane, listed this work as his gateway into experimental music. In his words, music was not supposed to sound this way. But, here we are, listening to this music together. Convention is something to be questioned and either refined or set aside. It is not something that is healthy to live in. Having this work part of my soundtrack really allowed me to disengage from the recital convention of Die Winterreise. When you listen to it, it’s almost impossible to imagine what instruments are playing. What do you hear?
The last track I want to ramble on is one the seminal bands of my creative space. My brother, Ricky, introduced me to Against Me! back when we were making hardcore music together (a little band called When Cars Collide, ah the pretentious memories). Their first two albums were addicting. I’d never heard such intimate lyrics presented in such a matter-of-fact way. Right around this album (New Wave), I fell out of the scene and committed to opera. For some reason I felt like I couldn’t listen to anything but classical music. I wonder why? Anywho, a few years ago I was gifted the memoir of Laura Jane Grace, the singer of Against Me!, titled Tranny. Reading her pain and struggle with gender dysmorphia, the continuous nervous breakdown from not being able to live her true identity, the revelation that it was all right there for us all from the first track of the first album- that was a humbling self-examination. This really has nothing to do with I Enter As A Stranger, except to say that Laura Jane Grace, and her book, sparked something that forced me to assess what my art is when compared to someone who knew what it was from the first ink on the page. And you know what I found? It doesn’t f****** compare! And hers doesn’t compare to mine! But what an inspiration!
This track was put on the playlist purely for flow purposes. Laura is one of the best songwriters alive, and almost every track on every album is golden.
So, that’s it! That’s five of hundreds of tracks that inspired me over the last eight months! The best way to know an artist is to immerse yourself in their process. So, head over to that Spotify playlist and get to know some of us. We can’t wait to see how you trouble the waters.
Justin, Carson, Sequoia, Jeff, Darrius, Ash, Benji, Samuel, and Makayla
You can find the shortened playlist on YouTube or the full playlist on Spotify .
To view I Enter as a Stranger, buy tickets at the link provided below:
Date: July 17 (On-demand through August 17) Time: 7 pm CST, streamable after ticket purchase until August 17 Tickets: $20 at www.sparrowlive.com/event-details/i-enter-as-a-stranger *($10 or $0 tickets available at: https://www.sparrowlive.com/event-details/i-enter-as-a-stranger-discounts-2)
1. Follow this link: LINK
2. Order tickets as normal
3. At checkout, input either discount10 for $10 tickets or discount0 for $0 tickets