For 20 years, Ian Parton has been mashing up old soul and pop samples, Double Dutch raps, British indie, and more as leader of The Go! Team. The band has just released its sixth album, Get Up Sequences Part One, which Parton says he approached by “asking the question ‘what would happen if Kevin Shields made an R & B record?’” While he admits “it didn’t turn out exactly like that,” you definitely get a bit of that on tracks like “I Loved You Better” and “Freedom Now.” You can listen to those and the whole album below.
With such a swirling kaleidoscope of sounds on The Go! Team’s records, we asked Ian to decode the new album, and he sent us a list of 10 influences for Get Up Sequences Part One which include, yes, My Bloody Valentine, as well as some music you might have picked up on yourself (Jackson 5, vintage Sesame Street, Roxanne Shante), and some you might not. His commentary for all 10 is insightful and interesting and you can read that below.
THE GO! TEAM’S IAN PARTON – 10 INSPIRATIONS BEHIND ‘GET UP SEQUENCES PART ONE’
Loveless – My Bloody Valentine
I think the influence of MBV has been there from day one with The Go! Team, even though hopefully it’s not obvious. Loveless is all pink, warm, woozy whammy bars and makes me i think of really nice food like ice cream. They’re the band where the songs are as good as the idea: they don’t just randomly pitchbend everywhere – it’s like the song is telling them when to do it. MBV seem to have a heightened awareness of the feel of music – that’s a thing which people don’t spend enough time thinking about – the FEEL of music.
No-one else has sounded like her – the queen of Queensbridge. I’ve always preferred female rappers and The Go! Team kinda has a ladies-only vocal policy (apart from Chuck D on our second album – Proof of Youth). With this album I was trying to evoke a kind of fire hydrant psychedelia – a world where Shante could jam with Kevin Shields and it would make total sense. In real life this wouldn’t happen, but in Go! Team world it’s all possible.
When I start a record I listen to thousands of records as a way of triggering melody ideas. Often I’ll camp out in a genre whether its Bollywood, Turkish psych, Electro. I spent weeks listening to Italian composers like Piero Piccioni, Morricone, Stelvio Cipriani, Giorgio Gaslini – all loungy flutes and floaty strings designed to soundtrack a drive through the Riviera. The influence of easy listening, lounge, Tropicalia – the kinds of ‘music for pleasure’ records that normally overflow in thrift stores – has always been there in the background. Even when I was a 19 year old student I would get dodgy Tijuana brass loops and overlay feedback and noise on my 4 track.
‘Iko Iko’ by The Dixie Cups
Listen to the stripped back, offbeat handclap and the maple-on-maple of drumstick percussion of Iko Iko, then listen to “Cookie Scene” off the new album and you can hear a resemblance. We were trying to get that syncopated round the campfire, teamwork groove to build the flute around. Also the crunchy in yer face shaker off ‘Push it’ by Salt N Pepa was a blueprint for the songs rhythm section.
Boards of Canada
I love bands that seem to exist in their own Universe and BOC are the ultimate – because the duo behind it are so mysterious, they disappear into the background and it means that your brain instead evokes the world they created – a world of half memories and wobbly nature documentaries, lens flare and number stations.
Early African electronic music
Hailu Mergia, William Onyeabor and Francis Bebey – they operated in a sweet spot where the technology of the era was just the right kind shit. If they’d recorded 10 years later, the keyboards and drum machines would have been nasty ’80s presets. I love all the random left turns and weird intergalactic sounds like laser beams that pop up – Raygun sounds ricochet through the whole of ‘Get Up Sequences’.
Cable Access TV
As much as musical influences i often think of music in terms of formats: VHS, super 8, cassettes. In particular the feel of cable access TV – the wonky vision mixers, amateur captions, gaudy colours, community ethos, oversaturated technicolour. I never like to use instruments straight – if I used a recorder on a song, the distortion on that recorder is as important as the recorder itself – so it’s almost like the format is indistinguishable from the sound. Everything is about aesthetics.
Midnight Cowboy soundtrack
My favourite OST. Every Go! Team album has one windswept, flying over the prairies, greyhound bus journey kinda song. Midnight Cowboy – one of my fave films – has a soundtrack that takes in so many genres from Warhol-esque freakout psych to wholesome country but its the John Barry wild west themes I like most. I’m always torn between wanting to do widescreen panoramic music and bedroom -core. I love playing with scale across an album – going small makes it count more when you change the aspect ratio.
Early Jackson 5
i always wonder why more people aren’t influenced the Jackson 5 – is there anything groovier than the brothers in their heyday? Particularly when they’re on a TV special playing live and they sound really raw like a garage band. Undeniable, universal, timeless, ageless. A bit of a goal i had at the outset of the go team was to sound a bit like Sonic Youth playing the Jackson 5 – it’s all about taking the edge off the cute curviness with a wall of noise.
‘Me and You’ by Penny and the Quarters
A demo only recently re-discovered and released which captured one take, one afternoon in the mid 70’s by a teenage girl and her brothers – I always veer towards singers who wouldn’t call themselves singers – who don’t oversing, more bedroom-y. The minute you call yourself a singer you start doing all the things you think a singer should do – going through the motions. On Get Up Sequences I asked a choir leader of a Detroit High school to take a few of her pupils who’d never been in a studio to go along and try out recording a song called “a bee without its sting” – one teenager called Jessie Miller totally stood out and made it onto the song. I’d rather do imperfection and charm over vocal gymnastics.
incidental music from Sesame Street
Not Big Bird or Kermit or any of that bollocks but the music from the little film inserts about a trip to a peanut butter factory or the changing seasons – for me there’s something pretty psychedelic about that early era of Sesame Street. The Go! team is less about being autobiographical – “let me tell you about my life” – but more about 2nd hand memories – things you’ve loved through your life which could easily be a theme tune or a documentary. So it’s like life is flashing before your eyes and you are jamming together all these things you loved.