It’s fair to say London singer-songwriter Max Pope has taken the road less travelled in his musical adventures so far.
The BRIT School alumni was spotted early on for his soulful voice and way with a melody, with a string of managers stepping forward to mould his style. Disillusioned by his experiences, he retreated from the music industry to find his vocation in horticulture.
He’s been tending to South London’s gardens ever since, and more recently tiptoeing back into the world of songwriting strictly on his own terms.
It was from this place that Max’s latest EP, UP, emerged – a set featuring a rich tapestry of stories and characters that address the turmoil and joy that has shaped his life.
For our new playlist, Max lets us in on the songs that have influenced him along the way…
Neil Young – The Needle and the Damage Done
Growing up as a kid my dad used to play the same bunch of songs over and over again on his guitar. I must’ve heard this song a thousand times but it still gives me such strong feelings. I can clearly picture the room and the audience he’s playing to.
Donny Hathaway – Jealous Guy
This is my coming home late at night in an Uber song. It sorts me out. I’m a big Lennon fan but this version is better than the original. Many have tried, only Donny has succeeded.
Gil Scott Heron – Lady Day and John Coltrane
Gil Scott Heron drew me into jazz for the first time when I was about 17. His music has a punk energy to it and his words are so direct, he’s one of the best lyricists. My favourite poem by him is called Running. Check it out.
Gorillaz – Fire Coming Out of the Monkeys Head
This record knows no rules. It has these heavily produced grooves and then it just floats off into old school, almost Americana songwriting, and then dives into spoken word. Its playfulness has been an inspiration to me time and time again.
Queen – Cool Cat
I have to confess I’m not the biggest Queen fan, but this track is special to me. It’s one of the most beautiful vocals I’ve ever heard from Freddie Mercury and you can hear every breath he takes. He makes singing sound so fun.
Henry Mancini – Lujon
The sound of beauty. I came across this piece by Henry Mancini in the movie Sexy Beast, which has one of the best opening scenes ever.
Beck – Devils Haircut
Apparently when I was about three years old and before I could really talk, I’d run around the house saying, ‘I AM BECK’. I still think I might be.
FKJ & Masego – Tadow
Too smooth. Nuff said.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – FFunny FFriends
Such a raw energy to this track. Such a heavy groove as well. When I get bored of jazzy soul records I whack this on to remind myself of the grit.
Joe Jackson – It’s Different for Girls
I saw a video of Joe Jackson performing this on Top of the Pops in 1980. Such a classic pop song but the way he sings it gives it a real edge. The lyrics are very conversational. I was obsessed with it when making my latest EP UP.