Leapling: 5 Albums That Changed My Life
Dan Arnes’ (a.k.a. Leapling) left-field pop is instantaneously memorable. He hits welcoming pockets in his vocal rhythms, and while he can croon, there’s a sense of urgency and force in his music. All of this is informed by an amalgamation of genres and artists who, much like Arnes, extend their innermost selves to perfect a simple but multi-tonal sound. Arnes took some time to talk to TIDAL about the music that changed his life.
It’s funny, I grew up in a house with hip-hop and, you know, MTV. The first rock band I ever got into was Blur. Hip-hop and melodic rock music were such disparate worlds in my mind. Aside from Damon Albarn, the production of this record was incredible and it stands the test of time. Dan the Automator is incredible.
It’s such a cool melding of worlds and completely different genres on one record. I never knew what dub was, but they had punky songs and super sample heavy production that I never heard out of that context, beyond gangster rap. That was the first record I heard where I realized, ‘Oh, you can do anything on an album.’ You can keep it as diverse, musically, as you want to. I was very interested in things that had nothing to do with each other. It was a big deal for me to hear. Those are the kinds of records I respond to.
The Roots, Things Fall Apart
I loved hip-hop as a kid, but a lot of the shit on the radio bored me. There are tons of tropes and similarities in production and aesthetics. That was the first record I heard that was a ‘weird’ hip-hop album. The Roots had the ability to be dissonant and they were already passed their jazzy phase. It was a very dark record, lyrically. They pushed the envelope.
The single ‘You Got Me’ was huge and my oldest brother had it in the house. It was total happenstance. Maybe it could have been any album, but it was there. I don’t know why I was attracted to the album, because the cover is kind of horrifying. It startled me as a kid.
After that I got into Talib Kweli and Mos Def, but that’s where it started. It’s a pretty sophisticated record, it’s all over the map. As a kid, I was into records that went over my head a little bit, which this did. They were so many things, musically, I had no idea about. I was into having this thing I felt no one else got.
The Beatles, The Beatles
Yeah, this album really flipped my lid. A lot of people, I think, get into music sequentially going backwards. Blur and Oasis was the first rock stuff I really got into. I didn’t like Nirvana really when I was a little kid. The White Album always resonated with me the most. There is a lot of veneer and bullshit a lot of the time to a sound, or record. I love huge production, like Thriller. I love huge, expensive records, but The White Album is so off-the-cuff. It is so chaotic and all over the place, stylistically. They were all about to kill each other. It was made in an insane manner. The guitar sounds are crazy.
That was when I started writing songs. It showed me the importance of the song. Even to hear a half-song, or a fragment of a song, alongside these majestically orchestrated songs was incredible. That juxtaposition showed me that even this huge band can actually subvert these tropes. I love cohesive albums, but here, there is no regard for that.
I responded to it immediately. I got obsessed with him and thought that I wanted to sound like him. When I started recording music, that’s who I was listening to, so naturally that’s what I did. I spent a lot of time making mediocre things to sound like him. I guess I’m just kind of into that aesthetic. He had such varying influences of things that turned him on. That record had everything mashed together. There were these interludes and drum machine elements, along with rock music.
It was the start of a lot. It was a door into soul music for me. He was the backdoor into a lot of music, like Prince. I never heard music that grooved that hard before. I was freaked out by it. Like the Roots, I loved the performance of instruments and their musicianship, which I was getting nervous about as I started playing. It blended those beats and live playing. There was this Dilla feel and there’s a [DJ] Premier track. His music had these drum kits that I didn’t know if they were looped; sometimes the bass sounds like a synth, but it sounds so dope and I can’t discern them. There’s this live aesthetic. It was the first time I understood, ‘Oh, a snare could be behind, or ahead.’ It changed everything for me. It’s almost absurdly detailed.
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