Kristeen Young: 5 Albums That Changed My Life

Kristeen Young: 5 Albums That Changed My Life

Kristeen Young has opened for Morrissey and her album, Live at the Witch’s Tit (out September 29), was co-produced by Tony Visconti (and herself), so we were pretty eager to hear which records influenced this riot grrl-opera-buff-R&B-fan.

“I’m not sure I can truthfully say there are five albums that ‘changed my life,’” Young tells TIDAL. “But, as a writer, or someone who makes things, here are five albums that remind me to think bigger and better and without boundaries. Or at least with fewer boundaries. And I guess that ‘changes my life’ in the most important sense for me.”

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Mozart, “Requiem Mass” in D Minor

This might not be an obvious choice as there are composers who are more experimental. I love Bartok (for his dissonance and angular decisions) and Brahms (for his heart-melting tragic romanticism), but this work by Mozart is so gloriously grave and extreme in dynamics. Put those two elements together and I’m infinitely inspired.

Philip Glass, Akhnaten 

Instrumentation. Instrumentation. Instrumentation. It’s grand and extreme, and, again, gloriously grave, especially ‘Funeral of Amenhotep,’ which is one of my favorite songs of all time with that relentless goddamn tribal beat. This makes me so jealous. I wish I would have written it.

Prince, Controversy

OK, really anything by Prince pre-Purple Rain (except For You) works for me as inspiration. Dirty Mind for its PERFECT warm sound. Yes, I’ve heard it’s really a demo. Whatever it is, it’s perfect. Especially ‘Uptown,’ which is another one of my favorite songs of all time. BUT…let’s come back to my Bible…(I hope my dead fundamentalist Christian mom who threw away five of my Controversy albums is supernaturally reading this….I said BIBLE). This album is my heart…my core…cut me open and I bleed ‘Let’s Work.’ Put a conch shell up to my ear and you’ll hear, ‘Our Father.’ This album has SCOPE…black, white, straight and gay. It’s everything all the time.

Kanye West, Yeezus

Kanye always does the right thing. He is the king of the obvious unexpected. It’s unexpected…but so obvious! How could someone else have not done it before? AND it’s unexpected in an OTT obvious way; you will NOT miss it. So smart. So always right. I always learn from listening to his albums. THE BEST production…always…and in anything he does.

Thelonious Monk, Monk’s Dream

I came to Monk late. The way I play piano, it sounds like someone just fell on it or perhaps it’s a bunch of random mistakes and sometimes it is. But then someone mentioned Monk to me and it, indeed, changed my life. I guess I picked up this part of my style (dissonance, angularity) out of the air but then I learned who placed it there in the first place…exhaling it for other interested, restless people to breathe. Besides pure enjoyment, I listen to Thelonious Monk for nourishment, validation and supernatural expansion of my vision of piano ‘mistakes.’

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