Influences: Hugo Valentine lets us in on his current musical loves.

We are joined by the talented Hugo Valentine as he details his top 5 current musical inspirations and influences…

1. Yebba – Evergreen

This song had a huge impact on me when I first heard it. Introduced to me by my vocal coach, I had it on repeat for days, totally mesmerised by the soul and groove of this song. I hadn’t heard of Yebba before, but as I began to get into her I began to see the absolute beauty in her voice and songs. This song’s pop/soul crossover has really inspired me and helped me to find more soul in my own voice and writing.

2.  Vampire Weekend – Step

This isn’t a particularly new song, but it’s fairly new to me. I discovered it a few months ago, pretty much by accident. I saw Vampire Weekend on a flyer for a show and, having seen their name around for years, I decided on a whim to check them out. This song has so much depth and is totally heaped in nostalgia, and lyrically it is a gift that keeps on giving. Every listen still allows me to see fresh nuances, and I’ve taken great pleasure in singing this song myself. The harpsichord in the intro is something very special, and this song always gives me very deep feelings when I hear it. I love the dreamy synths and the fusion of electronic and acoustic elements in this song – something I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from.

3. Royce Wood Junior – Love’s A Lonely Town

I actually discovered this song a few years back and recently revived it when asked to make a playlist for somebody. It’s production is so idiosyncratic and is coupled with slick and sophisticated songwriting. I’ve taken many, many listens of this song over the years and somehow it still has stayed fresh to my ears. The combination of electronic synths with real instruments creates a sharp but soulful record, and again has really inspired me to combine both sides of the spectrum in my own songs/productions.

4. Andy Shauf – Jerry Was A Clerk

This song is a beautifully worded and poignant story, expertly fashioned into a song. Andy Shauf has struck the balance between song and poem, with a refrain echoing through the song like a mantra. This song is a staple of my late night drives back from the studio when London is quiet and takes on a different guise. It really transports me to another place every time and I take great inspiration from the storytelling nature of the song. Storytelling in music is in many ways a forgotten art, and I feel Andy Shauf does it expertly here, something which inspires me every time I listen. I always try to tell stories in my songs, and the challenge is fitting this into a pop record whilst retaining depth – a challenge I enjoy taking on.

5. Celeste – Strange

Though I’m not familiar with much of Celeste’s other work, ‘Strange’ is such a delicate yet powerful record and hit me hard the first time I heard it. Her voice has such an original sound and a wistful quality and the feeling of longing in this record is so real. ‘Strangers to friends, friends into lovers, then strangers again.’ This line is so poignant and hard hitting, and is something so universal to humans. The stripped back production is also something I want to explore more with my records – as the piano becomes more and more of a feature of my work as time goes on, songs like this really speak to me and give me the inspiration to work more in this style. It came out around Christmas which seemed very fitting at the time, but as the season is now behind us, this song still has relevance and beauty and is not one I’m going to tire of anytime soon.

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