In about as eclectic a Top 10 as one might possibly imagine—how many other music producers would name-check Fennesz and Lionel Richie in the same list?—, Mark Templeton reveals some of the inspirations behind his latest EP release, Ballads. Its four songs show the Canadian guitarist-sound artist exploring a slightly different (i.e., plunderphonic) direction than has been documented on previous releases such as Standing on a Hummingbird, Inland, Sea Point, and Acre Loss, the latter a collaboration with aA.Munson (all issued on Anticipate). It'll certainly be interesting to see where the latest project (self-released and available in an ultra-limited 100 copies) leads and to what degree it might influence his future work.

1. Lionel Richie: "Hello" (Can't Slow Down, Motown Records)
This is the track that inspired me to complete Ballads. My wife was pregnant with our first child, and as a result we were practicing some suggested exercises that would hopefully decrease the pain of her contractions. One of the exercises in the book was slow dancing. We tried this and I immediately started singing "Hello." My wife suggested that I use Richie's voice as a sound source.

2. My Bloody Valentine: "Sometimes" (Loveless, Sire Records)
My wife and I have fallen asleep to this song hundreds of times. Sonically it's amazing, but I also like how lyrically it starts each verse with something we can all easily relate to: "Close my eyes..., Turn my head...., See me go..., Close my eyes." It makes me feel really melancholy.

3. Kate Bush: "The Man With The Child In His Eyes" (The Kick Inside, EMI)
I used the first verse of this song as a sound source in one of my tracks off of the Holden Into Riley EP. My wife introduced me to Kate Bush's The Whole Story, and I noticed immediately how her voice demanded my attention. I like that about her.

4. Joni Mitchell: "River" (Blue, Reprise)
This song makes me really sad. I've always wanted to create something that has as strong an impact as a track like this. Emotionally, you can't help but be affected by her regret.

5. Crosby, Stills and Nash: "Helplessly Hoping" (Crosby, Stills & Nash, Atlantic)
My wife had an old children's portable record player when we were in college. Every time I hear this song I am so lonely for her, even if she's in the next room.

6. John Hartford: "Lorena" (Live from Mountain Stage, Blue Plate Music)
Never has the banjo sounded so sad! I have a set of VHS instructional videos of John Hartford from before he passed away. He plays this song on the tape, and I am always surprised when I listen to his music by how well he incorporates minor chords and lyrically marries them to his stories.

7. Terre Thaemlitz: Lovebomb (album) (Mille Plateaux)
I like how Terre treats the voice and other samples in telling his story on Lovebomb. He takes samples and assembles them to create his narrative. On Ballads I'm trying to do something similar by collecting sounds to then construct something that is my version of a ballad.

8. Fennesz: "Rivers of Sand" (Venice, Touch)
In listening to this track I almost immediately become nostalgic. The song hits you in parts; just when you think you've reached the end, you realize you're only halfway.

9. The Cure: "Just Like Heaven" (Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Elektra)
Something about this song makes me want to be somewhere else. I feel as though I'm missing out on something. As Robert Smith puts it: I'm "(a)lone above a raging sea..."

10. Beach Boys: "Ballad of Ole' Betsy" (Little Deuce Coupe, Capitol Records)
I had a 'Greatest Hits Beach Boys' tape when I was younger. It was my first cassette and I listened to it over and over as I fell asleep at night. It was my first experience with music that made me feel sentimental.

July 2010