FAVELA is a writer and singer who has managed to generate an array of melodic sounds, reaching keen listeners across the globe.
His music boasts layers of warm and impactful production, resulting in millions of Spotify streams and key tastemaker support from worldwide radio such as the UK’s BBC Radio 1.
To celebrate 8 Years Of T.H.E – Music Essentials, FAVELA shares 8 albums that have deeply inspired him.
From Frank Ocean’s “Blonde” to Gold Panda’s “Lucky Shiner”, these albums go a long way towards describing FAVELA as an artist, and his thought process!
1. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
This is one of my all-time favourite albums, that I never seem to tire of. I love the messiness of the recording, Justin Vernon’s choice of falsetto, that fools the listener into forgetting that these songs are essentially pop songs or ballads. I love that the lyrics are difficult to hear, and once you look them up or finally make sense of them, they’re somewhat indecipherable. Skinny Love for instance – ‘Come on skinny love just last the year’ is enough of a beautiful sentiment to capture an emotion instantly. Yet there is so much emotion in Vernon’s voice, his melodies and chords. Lump Sum features a sort of four to the floor kick drum, which gives it a wonderfully subtle drive, alongside the acoustic guitar, and pushes the slow melodies along. It inspires me to make beautiful music, not to overthink my lyrics, and to think about how to veil my more pop-tinged melodies with different instrumentation.
2. Rosalía – El Mal Querer
I was absolutely blown away by this record when I first heard it and it has quickly become one of my favourite albums. The production by El Guincho on it is just incredible. He manages to blend Spanish traditions with pop and R&B music. Rosalía chooses very interesting melodies and inflections which are a breath of fresh air amidst all the other western music I hear. ‘Que No Salga La Luna’ is mind-blowing. I hear even Middle Eastern and Asian influences which dip in and out of more Western melodies, over the top of a very repetitive guitar loop. At one point her melody just shifts to the major key, and speaks to my inner music-nerd in wonderful ways! This album inspires me sonically, melodically and again encourages my production to stay creative and different.
3. Frank Ocean – Blonde
It almost goes without saying that this album is a modern classic. Frank Ocean as an artist in terms of his output and career interests me greatly, but this album particularly is a huge inspiration. It took me a while to really get into it, and I really like that. Some tracks I’ve had to grapple with and try and understand them, and I think that’s what great music should do. It should encourage you to keep coming back to it and think about what it’s saying and doing. ‘Nights’ is a particular favourite, especially how he establishes a certain hook or melody, then flips the track up on itself and moves into a completely different sound and section, but then returns to that original melody. I think it’s an album that will provide new discoveries and creative ideas for many years to come for me.
4. The National – High Violet
I couldn’t really choose a specific album by The National because they are all so inspirational to me. My live band and I always have jokes / discussions / arguments about this band because I feel that those who like them are basically die-hard fans, and those that aren’t don’t particularly understand their magnetic pull! This album introduced me to them. Firstly I love how they seem to fit in multiple choruses or hooks into a single song, which feels very counter-cultural, and secondly lyrically Matt Berninger is a genius. The lyrics are always so bleak and yet tongue-in-cheek, and always paint such a vivid picture. Take ‘Lemonworld’ for instance: ’Lay me on a table, put flowers in my mouth and we can say that we invented a summer-loving torture party.’ Need I say anymore?!
5. Corinne Bailey Rae – The Sea
I think Corinne Bailey Rae can be quite an overlooked artist, as this album is a real gem. It arose from a very difficult time in her life and the result is stunning. The emotion captured in each song is extremely tangible and the production is so perfectly understated. ‘I Would Like To Call It Beauty’ is a personal favourite – it sounds like a Van Morrison track and her vocal is laid so bare it lets the emotion hit hard. For me it’s a lesson in how to produce in order to support a song and let it shine, and also an encouragement that a song is always better when it comes from a personal place.
6. Kanye West – The College Dropout
Many of my peers growing up didn’t listen to much rap music, and so it was not until my teenage years that I got into it. The College Dropout was really an introduction into the genre as a whole as I particularly connected with West’s soulful production. It made me focus on the importance of rhythms to carry a song. The tom beat in ‘Family Business’ is so simple but it’s perfectly placed and just drives the whole song. It also began rap music’s influence on my vocals, playing around with rhythms and word play.
7. Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner
Lucky Shiner was one of the first albums to get me really hooked on music production. I love Gold Panda’s use of glitchy samples and weird sounds. The repetitive nature of some of the sounds reminded me of the minimalist music I studied in school, and thus encouraged that influence in my music too. The extensive use of samples encouraged me to sample, but as I never knew where to find good samples I began to create my own by recording instruments and chopping up the audio files.
8. Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers
This album wouldn’t feature super high on my all time favourite albums but in terms of inspiring me I think it’s significance can’t be overstated. The production and song structure on it has taught me that everyday sounds that are messy and lo-fi can be really beautiful, and that you really have a blank canvas when you start a song. It doesn’t need to be three minutes long, or have a verse-chorus structure. Take ‘Field’ for example – it’s essentially one long build up, and when it finally drops, these obviously badly recorded guitar and hand claps come in, and then the beat drop is so understated. The beat then falls away and it’s left with the guitar, and that’s the end of the track. It leaves so much up to the imagination, and almost for the listener to create their own dancier version in their head.
What’s your favourite album? Don’t forget to follow FAVELA on his Facebook page.