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Guest DJ: Aldous Harding

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Guest DJ: Aldous Harding

Guest DJs From All Songs Considered

Guest DJ: Aldous Harding

Guest DJ: Aldous Harding

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Aldous Harding released her debut Party, produced by John Parish, this May on 4AD. Rafael Barker/Courtesy of the photographer hide caption

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Rafael Barker/Courtesy of the photographer

Aldous Harding released her debut Party, produced by John Parish, this May on 4AD.

Rafael Barker/Courtesy of the photographer

Aldous Harding, the intense singer and songwriter from New Zealand, sat down with me after the Tiny Desk Concert she recorded earlier this month (posting on July 28) to talk about the music she loved growing up. It was a teary and thoughtful conversation around the artists that would go on to have a huge impact on the music she's now creating.

Aldous Harding's second album, Party, was released last month — it's been my constant companion in 2017. (Read her thoughts on the inspirations behind the album and its songs here.)

I first fell for these somewhat disconcerting pieces of music when we premiered her video for "Horizon," a film shot with her mom. About a month later, she played an outdoor space in Austin during SXSW. As can be the case at that sprawling-but-packed event, there were at least three other bands blasting their sounds nearby, bleeding over onto her stage. Aldous, accompanied only by her own guitar and her keyboard sound-wizard mate Invisible Familiars (Jared Samuel), completely transfixed us all, despite the sonic crosstalk. Her stage presence reminded me of an intense version Charlie Chaplin, with exaggerated facial expressions and body language adding commentary to the songs she sang.

So on this edition of All Songs Considered, Aldous Harding plays DJ. We begin our conversation talking about her just-finished Tiny Desk Concert, which most performers find incredibly awkward. She found it comforting.

Songs Featured On This Episode

Cover for Just Another Diamond Day [Cool Sound]

Vashti Bunyan

  • Song: Diamond Day
  • from Just Another Diamond Day [Cool Sound]

"Actually just hearing that little bit [of Just Another Diamond Day] made me a bit teary because I haven't listened to it for so long. It was kind of the record that I put on to ease my angst when I was 18 or 19 — to escape into [a world that was] slightly softer."

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Song
Just Another Diamond Day [Cool Sound]
Album
Just Another Diamond Day [Cool Sound]
Artist
Vashti Bunyan
Label
Cool Sound Records
Released
1970

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Cover for Greatest Hits

Seals & Crofts

  • Song: Summer Breeze
  • from Greatest Hits

"So, when I was eight or nine my mom's friend gave her a big purple bag full of cassettes and I found Seals and Crofts' 'Summer Breeze.' ... When I found it I stopped going through the bag because I was like, well, I'm not going to find anything better than this. I just thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard. [And I put on the cassette and the tape would just loop] around and around... and my mom was like, 'Jesus, can you turn that off.'"

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Song
Greatest Hits
Album
Greatest Hits
Artist
Seals & Crofts
Label
Warner Bros.
Released
1975

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Cover for Party

Aldous Harding

  • Song: Blend
  • from Party

"I had a little radio next to the bed and I'd just listen to the top 10 — I mean, it was crap but I was young — and I would get up in the dark with the moon coming in through the window and I would just dance in my pajamas in the dark to the top 10. I didn't have a CD player... so it was kind of all I had, you know?"

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Buy Featured Music

Song
Party
Album
Party
Artist
Aldous Harding
Label
4AD
Released
2017

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Cover for Red Rose Speedway

Paul McCartney

  • Song: Single Pigeon
  • from Red Rose Speedway

During an encore performance at the DC9 nightclub, Aldous covered what she considers her favorite song, Paul McCartney's "Single Pigeon":

Single pigeon... Did she throw you out? / Sunday morning, fight about Saturday night / Do you need a pal for a minute or two? / You do? / Me too, me too, me too / I'm a lot like you...

"I just know what he means. I don't know whether I'm the bird or the one who threw the bird out, but I just know what he means."

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Song
Red Rose Speedway
Album
Red Rose Speedway
Artist
Paul McCartney & Wings
Label
EMI Music Distribution
Released
1973

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Cover for Iron Curtain Innocence [Bonus Tracks]

Bobb Trimble

  • Song: One Mile from Heaven [Long Version]
  • from Iron Curtain Innocence [Bonus Tracks]

"[This was one of the songs that has] made me feel things recently. I just can't tell you what that guitar line, drum sound, and [the verse] 'Give me courage to see your success while I'm failing with every dream' does to me — but it still does it. I could listen to that song five times over."

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Song
Iron Curtain Innocence [Bonus Tracks]
Album
Iron Curtain Innocence [Bonus Tracks]
Artist
Bobb Trimble
Label
Secretly Canadian
Released
1980

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Cover for Party

03Living The Classics

  • Buy Featured Music

    Song
    Living The Classics
    Album
    Party
    Artist
    Aldous Harding
    Label
    4AD
    Released
    2017

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Aldous Harding

  • Song: Living The Classics
  • from Party

"I like this one because it's basically me saying, Well I'm here now and I want to try to make it doing this [writing music]. But I'm just kind of drip-feeding it — because it's an authentic experiment.

"['Living the Classics'] is probably my most confident song because even though I'm saying I'd like to try it — I'm also saying I'm going to do it."

Buy Featured Music

Song
Party
Album
Party
Artist
Aldous Harding
Label
4AD
Released
2017

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Purchase Featured Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
Party
Artist
Aldous Harding
Label
4AD
Released
2017

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?