Music by VICE

Deadboy's Debut Album Was Inspired by Rihanna's Use of Repetition

The Montreal-via-London producer discusses the ten records he listened to while making 'Earth Body.'

by Erik Leijon
May 30 2017, 5:11pm

Kane Ocean

When it came time for Deadboy to move from London to Montreal last year, the UK bass producer, real name Allen Wootton, had to decide what to do with his records. While he kept his reggae 45s, most of the collection ended up either being sold or stayed behind at his parents' house, an experience that wasn't nearly as traumatic as one might expect.

"There comes a point where you have so many records that it becomes pointless to have so many, because whatever you're looking for is buried under another record," says Wootton.

Unencumbered in a new city, the producer was free to start anew, and he set up a bare-bones home studio with a "couple of synths and a microphone on the kitchen table." The resulting LP, Earth Body, is a near drum-less experience which features Wootton on vocals for the first time. Compared to his more raucous two-step and UK garage work—including last year's DBM project with frequent collaborator Murlo—he describes the meditative debut album as "a painting of a beach on a dreary day in pastel colours," with the nine tracks demonstrating his love for new age and "adult pop."

THUMP recently caught up with the producer at his plant-filled Mile End apartment to find out which ten albums helped shape Earth Body, and what we can expect from him in the future.


1. Sade – Love Deluxe (1992)

2. Scott Walker – Climate of Hunter (1984)

Allen Wootton: Two albums that inspired my vocals. Sade's is from the 90s and Scott Walker's is the mid-80s. Everyone's parents had the Sade record in the 90s. Sade's vocal is just very cool and cold, and Scott Walker is quite dramatic. Clear and crooning. I'm not saying I sound like either of them, but they're two examples of the adult pop influences on the record. Then there's something like Pet Sounds, with 10-track vocal harmonies. I really wanted to have harmonies in a big way.

3. Rihanna – ANTI (2016)

It influenced "Tide" on the album. The way Rihanna does a lot of repetition—like "Work," "Rude Boy," and "Umbrella"—it's simple and not a lot of people do it. But it really works, especially when you're changing the note and doing harmonies. It's a really good trick, it's easy to sing and catchy. You hear something like "Work" and you're going to be singing it afterwards. Her choruses are very clever, and I like a lot of her minimal, dancehall-y tracks too. I try to do that, only with no drums.

4. Mark Isham – Vapor Drawings (1983)

This is a great album. He's a jazz trumpet player. This album is from the mid-to-late 80s, when he was doing a lot more keyboard stuff. Now he's doing film soundtracks, I think he even did Blade. He's one of those guys who does everything. This was definitely an influential album in terms of the sounds I use—very 80s FM synthesizer and bell piano sounds. Very floaty stuff with rhythms. It also has cover art that looks like how the record sounds, and it's part of the whole vibe.

5. CFCF & Jean-Michel Blais – Cascades (2017)

Even before I planned to move out here, CFCF made a mix for my radio show in London, so I met him out here a few times. CFCF's records are very Wally Badarou, which is something I really vibe with. He's got that vibe down. I saw the thing he did with the pianist, and that was really cool.

6. Midori Takada – Through the Looking Glass (1983)

A lot more people are getting into this sort of new age music because of YouTube algorithms. You can find similar stuff and that's a weird effect on these micro-revivals. Like that Midori Takada album that just got reissued—it was in my YouTube recommendations for ages. Then other people I know would talk about it and we all realized we discovered it through the same YouTube recommendations. And now she's doing shows. You have to learn to manipulate the algorithms, I guess.

7. Transformation Of A Water-Lily - A Cosmic Meditation (1988)

One of my favourite records. It sounds the way the title suggests. It's two Germans, one is Michael Wehr, and it's a beautiful record. It has these sleeve notes for each track, and the first is "you're a lily, your roots are stretching down and you're reaching the sun." The next is "you're entering the temple." It's explaining to you what you should visualize for each track, which I really dig. I've never written tracks like that, but I'll have an atmosphere in mind, which is usually a place.

Before the studio recording existed, music was made for the space it was being played in. Then with the advent of studio recording, people created spaces with music. I try to make music with a texture or environment in mind when I make stuff, which I think explains why I like new age and ambient records. It's what I tried to create with Earth Body—some type of environment.

8. Virginia Astley – Promise Nothing (1983)

She's a posh British girl who made these pop records, but then again David Sylvian is on her first album. I think it's weird pop, and similar to Earth Body in a way because of the 80s synthesizer sounds that were used. Very understated pop.

9. Mavado – Mr. Brooks...A Better Tomorrow (2009)

Dancehall albums are rarely anything more than a bunch of tracks put together, but Mavado is one of my favourite vocalists. Super raw, but also smooth and soulful, and all the rhythms on the album are just excellent. It has these heavy skits in-between with thunder and the gospel choirs. All the tracks are great and it's cohesive. It's hard to nail raw and soulful; I've tried to do that with my early house stuff like "U Cheated," but also things I've worked on recently.

10. Guem – Spécial Percussions - 15 Bases Rythmiques (1975)

It's a French percussion record and it's just congas and tam tams. I've been using it for drums on everything, I keep sampling everything on it. It's really good. Although on Earth Body, there isn't a kick drum until about track six.

Earth Body is out now on Local Action Records.

Erik Leijon is on Twitter.