At the most basic level, influence is anything that has the capacity to have any effect on pretty much any process. So, in musical terms, how do you narrow that down? How do you define what had a major influence on a record? How do you detect the sounds, ideas and ultimately people, who shaped the way something sounds?
As a starting place, we can perhaps divide the idea of influence into two separate strands, conscious and unconscious. There’s a history of bands trying very hard to deny the most obvious conscious influencing, namely stealing someone else’s idea, yet equally it’s hard to believe that any musician doesn’t to some extent set out to emulate something that came before. It could be as simple as attempting to recreate a guitar sound you like, borrowing a vocal melody you love, or attempting to recreate the feel of a perfectly judged instrumental arrangement. At their worst conscious influences sound derivative, uninspired, at their best they can be beautiful tributes to the music an artist loves.
Perhaps more interesting is the idea of unconscious influence. The insidious way a melody weaves itself into your brain and refuses to let go. How often do you hear a brand new song and feel you’ve heard some element of it somewhere before? More often than not, we’d imagine, that was not some deliberate decision, just a chance coincidence brought about by a limited number of notes available to musicians. This can lead to the idea it’s impossible to do anything new with music, yet by both consciously and unconsciously stitching together an array of influences into a cohesive whole, the seemingly limited options available to a musician still manage to create something entirely, beautifully, limitless.
A band with an intriguing array of influences are the sister-led indie-punk band Colour Me Wednesday. The quartet, who cite their interests as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Vegan Food and Intersectional feminism, are set to return in the near future with their as-yet-untitled second album, again released via their own label, Dovetown Records.
Featuring members of The Tuts, Baby Arms and ¡Ay Carmela!, Colour Me Wednesday’s sound is a blurring of DIY-indie and pure pop perfection. At the foreground throughout are the twin-vocals of Jennifer and Harriet Doveton, their tight familial harmonies shimmering atop a backing of dense layered guitars, driving bass and clattering, energetic drums. Lyrically they’re just as diverse as their music would suggest, as likely to be singing about identity politics as they are about falling in-and-out of love or learning to be happy in your own skin. A band who seem to have steadily crafted and improved their sound with every new single, where their upcoming album takes them musically, it should be nothing short of intriguing.
Celebrating the launch of the pre-order for their second album, Colour Me Wednesday have put together a mixtape of some of the sounds that shaped the record, featuring a diverse array of bands from Carly Rae Jepsen to Juliana Hatfield, and most styles in between.
1. Wolf Alice- Your Love’s Whore
Jaca (drums): All of us are really into Wolf Alice and wanted to get some of their ideas and heavier sounds onto the album. I love the way they build up ideas sometimes, particularly the groove at the beginning of Your Love’s Whore that slowly layers up the drums, guitar, bass and vocals one by one, so we tried to use that model in a couple of the heavier songs on the album, for example one called ‘Disown’. I also really love the part in the middle of Visions of A Life where Ellie and Joff play two completely different riffs at the same time, so i’m really happy with how many layers of guitar Harriet managed to put into our final track of the new album! Love it!
2. Carly Rae Jepsen- Run Away with me
Laura (guitar): I literally do not trust anyone who says they don’t like any pop music. EMOTION is full of such hits. I associate this with being Harriet’s co pilot whilst driving, because as car CD DJ I must have put this album on like 50 times and I’m yet to get sick of it. Also the synth use in this song (and across the rest of the album) is fucking MASTERFUL and I hope that I get to play Jen’s Microkorg when we tour the album so I get to pretend I am as full of pop charm as CRJ.
3. Japanese Breakfast- Everybody wants to love you
Harriet (guitar): I became obsessed with pretty much the whole of Psychopomp when it came out. But this song I put onto our band playlist straight away when we were chatting inspiration. I love her guitar riffs and solos, they’re so confident and catchy. On our new album I’ve embraced a more confident, fluid, fun yet also much more technical style of playing and am really proud of myself. Back to Everybody Wants to Love you- I love the dreamy vocals, reverb and synth. I’ve also always been a BIG fan of call and response vocals.
3. The Sundays – Can’t Be Sure
Jennifer (vocals): People have compared us to the Sundays for years and it’s a comparison that we never once resisted. For this album Harriet was working on a really nice guitar part and I just felt possessed by Sundays front-person Harriet Wheeler and took some lyrics I’d written about men who are too cowardly to put themselves out there and do the right thing and wrote a very Sundays-esque melody. Not sure if the finished song ended up as Sundays as it sounded when we first jammed it, but either way it’s a lovely song and I’ll be very proud if some other Sundays fans are into it.
5. Hop Along- Tibetan Pop stars
Laura: Hop Along have been a constant for me ever since I heard this song, and I think that the production and instrumentation on Get Disowned have been a big influence on Colour Me Wednesday’s songwriting for the past couple of years. One of the new tracks (Disown) is a bit like a cross between Hop Along and Questions And Answers by Biffy Clyro which is all my teen self could want to be honest.
6. SZA- The Weekend
Harriet: Okay so our album may not sound much like SZA. But CTRL is one of the best albums I’ve heard in years. I listened to it a lot while just working on songs last year and who knows it may have influenced a few melodies of mine. Not to give TOO many spoilers but we have this new song on the record and I used SZA’s beats as a reference when I was chatting ideas with Jaca. Wait and seeeee!
7. Paramore- That’s what you get
Jaca: There aren’t many albums that are solid through and through, but Riot! by Paramore is one of those for me. I was taking a week-long Music Production course when i first got into this album so i was listening to it everyday and was just taken aback by the quality of the sounds, not to mention the way all the instruments play such interesting parts individually that come together into great songs. So Zac Farro’s big, deep drum sound was an obvious reference point for me when deciding how i wanted my drums to sound on this album. I even managed to sneak in my own version of the drum fill right before the final chorus in That’s What You Get into one of our songs… see if you can spot it.
8. Tancred- Pens
Jennifer: I started listening to Tancred when we were pulling all the songs together for our album and became addicted to Out of the Garden, and in particular the song Pens – Harriet’s guitar tone is really similar to the one used on this song. I’m really impressed with the perfect production, it’s so full but incredibly crisp and clear. Her voice is awesome and the lyrics on the whole album are incredibly sharp and a great mix of witty and dark. To be honest it would be a dream to support Tancred.
9. Juliana Hatfield- Dying Proof
Harriet: I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t mention Juliana. Possibly mine and Jen’s biggest influence as songwriters. We’ve been listening to her since we were kids. Only Everything and Become What You are we’ve listened to hundreds of times. Her and Tanya Donelly of Belly (another big shout out) were the reason I wanted to play electric guitar when I was a teenager. This song, Dying Proof I used to listen to loads on my mp3 player at school. I love the use of guitar work and vocals and how they work together beautifully. I also love the guitar tone, sliding backing vocals and lyrics.
10. Sheer Mag- Fan the Flames
Jaca: As a drum teacher, i always really appreciate songs with simple drum parts that i can use to teach beginners in my lessons, but the pressure to always show-off the best of your ability as a musician is hard to avoid. I wanted to challenge myself to play simpler parts that new drummers would find easy and fun to play, so i took some inspiration from the Sheer Mag song Fan the Flames when writing my drum part for our new song Heather’s Left For Dead. I played mostly simple grooves and stole the doubled tambourine/hi-hat idea as well! I still couldn’t resist adding a few cheeky fills though!
Pre-order the new Colour Me Wednesday album now, via Dovetown Records. Click HERE for more information on Colour Me Wednesday.