This Music Made Me

This Music Made Me: The Shoes

The Shoes

The Shoes

Leftfield French electronic music gurus The Shoes have just put out their third, party-starting album Chemicals, a ludicrously eclectic genre-hop of a follow-up to 2011’s Crack My Bones.

As with their last work, the Reims duo’s latest opus lines up a cornucopia of featured guest stars, including a returning Esser, Mystery Jets‘ Blaine Harrison, Black Atlass, Postaal, and on stand-out single Drifted –  SAGE, mixing up a heady concoction of aural ingredients to arrive at a distinctive sound that is, while all their own, unabashedly and accessibly pop to its core.

Here Benjamin Lebeau and Guillaume Brière delve into their considerable record collections to find the albums that influenced them most, for The Shoes’ This Music Made Me


The Cure - Standing On A Beach The Cure – Standing On A Beach

Guillaume: Ok. This isn’t an ‘album’. But when we were kids it was one of the only cassettes we had and we were sure that it was a real album.

It is a compilation of singles but it represents exactly what we love about The Cure.

Freedom, surprise, transformation, adventure. Each song is different and explores a different side of Robert Smith’s personality. Maybe that’s why our albums are built like Standing on a Beach (with a lot of modesty) a collection of different styles but with a common identity. That’s why that « album » is the most important record for us.


Sonic Youth…

Sonic Youth - Sister Guillaume: …Sister. Now I realize, writing that fave album list, that I may have been a depressed kid! That Sonic Youth album is one of my masterpieces but it’s also one of their most difficult album.

I was really obsessed with NOISE. To me, it was sexier to hit a guitar with a drum stick with a huge distortion and feedback (although it was not so inventive lol) than playing a virtuose guitar hero solo.

My favorite member is Steve Shelley on drums. The production, the sound of the drums and the way he plays, is so impressive and inventive. My drum hero!


Sonic Youth - Dirty Benjamin: …Dirty. When we were just 14 years old, in 1992, we heard the album Dirty by Sonic Youth for the first time, which completely blew us away and still does.

With our band we used to cover the first track on the album, “100%”. We were trying to reproduce the sound of Thurston Moore, but we’d never quite get there.

The guitars sound like unsteady synths, there’s always a duality between softness and anarchy (violence) with Sonic Youth, but with that touch of elegance and urban aesthetic. It’s them who taught us what “underground” meant in music.


King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King

Guillaume: Every french dad has got that vinyl at home! (with Harvest Neil young and Dark Side Of The Moon)

Once again, the drums are very important in our future sound. They use the mellotron like nobody else in the past. Emotions in that records are a bit « first degrees » but so intense!!

And the artwork is a mix between everything I hate and something that had fascinated me all through my childhood!


Massive Attack - Protection Massive Attack – Protection

Guillaume: One of the first « producer » album that I’ve loved. It was mysterious, who were they? What  did« featuring » mean to me as a French kid?

There is something very precise that changed my life. The TB 303 sound in « protection »… Damn, I was 15 years old and I was trying to reproduce that sound with guitars and pedals on a cassette recorder.

I tried with a Piano, with a microphone, with everything until I realized it was a classic synth. It’s the first vintage synth I bought in my life.


Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu Tang (36th Chambers) Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu Tang (36th Chambers)

Guillaume: Rap has just never been the same after it. Punk, dirty, Mystic, messy, complicated, simple… SO NEW!

I’m a HUGE fan of comic books, they were like the Avengers! Every one had his favorite (to me the duet Raekwon & Ghost Face Killa on « Only Built For Cuban Linx »).

They were so well dressed! OMG, I spent so much money on Timberland and Helly Hansen!


Primal Scream - Screamadelica Primal Scream – Screamadelica

Guillaume: « Movin’ on up » is my favorite song. That album is a piece of History. Andrew Weatherall is maybe our favorite producer ever (He did a remix for us on the first album, we cried).

In our album Chemicals, there is a precise reference to « Dont Fight It, Feel It » on « Whistle ». They have got the Rolling Stones’ attitude that I love and they also bring innovations in every record they make.

Bobby Gillespie is my ultimate goal in terms of featuring. My Idol. A dream.


Money Mark - Mark’s Keyboards Repair Money Mark – Mark’s Keyboards Repair

Guillaume: My dad bought me that CD! He is in love with the Hammond organ sound, that’s why I’ve got a B3.

My father has been listening to « Cry » randomly on the radio and he ran to the record shop to buy the album because he wanted me to play that track on the organ. It’s not a very popular album in France and I was very proud to know it.

I was very much into « vintage » at that time and I was learning to produce on 4-track cassette recorder.


Squarepusher - Hardnormal DaddySquarepusher – Hardnormal Daddy

Guillaume: I wanted to pick a Warp Album, and it was a very hard choice to make!

Aphex Twin, Boards Of Canada, Tortoise, Autechre, Vincent Gallo, Plone…..

But Benjamin bought the reedition of Hardnormal Daddy on vinyl last week so we picked that one. The virtuosity of the production and the pure madness that sweats from that music still gives us the shivers. Warp is maybe our favorite label of all time.


Goldie - Timeless Goldie – Timeless

Guillaume: Wait. This is the reason why we started producing electronic music. We could choose Photek’s « Modus Operandi » but the Goldie one is more emblematic. In terms of strings Pads, the « Inner City Life » is the ultimate reference.

Cold, precise, dreamy. We are still looking for it. That pad is still our Holy Grail. No Joke. It was so new, so fresh. A British answer to US rap.

Benjamin: So we used to cover Sonic Youth, The Pixies, and everything that 90’s teenagers listened to. We were not interested in electronic music back then.. until we heard « Inner City Life ». There is something precise, almost surgical, icy in that music.

The texture of the sound was completely new to us at the time and has been a major influence. This is totally english DNA, essence of punk music.  After that we listened to a lot of drum&bass and Jungle.


Kanye West - 808s & Heatbreak Kanye West – 808s & Heatbreak

Guillaume: Alright this one is a bit recent but it had a huge impact on my productions.

We are always talking about Kanye’s troubles or tabloids shit, about his fashion designs, but we often forget to say that he is a musical genius. I’m always looking for his new works, and I’m very curious to know where he’s going to go next with his music. This album in particular is very rich and it’s a real pop songs record. The melodies are so rich and I finally love the using of the autotune that I always use in live now.

My favorite moment is the loooooooooong « Say You Will » outro with the angels choirs. Goosebumps.


Serge Gainsbourg - Melody Nelson Serge Gainsbourg – Melody Nelson

Benjamin: We rarely listen to it now, maybe to recreate the impression we had when we first heard it.

The bass and the drums are predominant, the sound is dirty, the guitar, disturbing. Jean-Claude Vannier’s Violons arrangement create a paradox, and Gainsbourg tells us that story, with this flow that belongs to him. It’s magic.

Definitely an inspiration for many (Portishead, Massive Attack, us…)


Silver Apples - Silver Apples Silver Apples – Silver Apples

Benjamin: We used to try and figure out which band could be the most avant-garde in electronic music  : Can, Kraftwerk, Devo, Soft Machine, repetitive music…

Then one day we heard Silver Apples. We first thought it was some kind of Ninja Tune, Mo Wax, like sampling music.

But no. Just an hypnotic drummer, and a guy playing some customized synthesizer. On the album cover it said : 1968.


The Shoes’ album Chemicals is out now through Green United. Read our review here. Tour dates and further information can be found here.

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More on The Shoes
This Music Made Me: The Shoes
The Shoes – Chemicals
The Shoes – Crack My Bones