Check out the five songs How To Dress Well's Tom Krell listens to before every live show.
"I was born in 1984, so I started remembering things in 1989," Krell says after sound check before a recent gig at New York's Music Hall of Williamsburg. "So 1989 to 2002 when I left home, those are my formative years. My mom was always singing Smokey Robinson's 'Ooh Baby Baby,' and then I would watch things like Maxwell on MTV, so my musical approach, especially vocally, is informed by R&B music. My parents didn't listen to rock -- my dad hates The Beatles with some pride -- and my musical influences are more varied because sonically I am more interested in more experimental music. There's a lot of ambient music and noise music that's influencing the sounds." He stops and pauses after taking in what is surely his umpteen-hundredth description of his musical upbringing. "Wow, that's probably the best explanation I've ever given of the whole thing."
The current tour also features How To Dress Well's most sonically complex live arrangements yet, layering Krell's voice with the psychedelic vocal effects and violin sounds featured on the album and pairing it with the same kind of arresting visuals and short films he's become known for in previous years. "I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I'm so proud of this tour – it's really beautiful," he says.
Look for Krell and How To Dress Well's unique sounds to show up in other places later this year, from the Roots Picnic in Philadelphia on June 1 ("I'm gonna go utterly H.A.M. for Trinidad Jame$," he says), to a pair of collaborative projects still in their early phases – one with Xiu Xiu's James Stewart ("We have two songs ready and four others in the works"), the other with Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste ("He wants to do an EP, and I think that would be a beautiful thing -- us producing harmonies together.")
In the meantime, check out Krell's Gimme Five — a list of the songs he listens to before every show -- for Billboard.com's Pop Shop.
1. Michael Cashmore, "The Snow Abides"