Earth is the Place - Nathan Haines
I moved to London in 1995 and met [DJ/producer] Phil Asher in 1998. He was approached by record label Chillifunk to do an album and said, "I don't want to do an album but I'll produce an album for Nathan Haines who I've been doing a lot of work with." We started the album Sound Travels in 1999 and one of the first songs we made was Earth is the Place.
It was originally supposed to be sung by Lady Miss Kier from Deee-Lite. I'd become good friends with her in London and we were hanging out a lot. We booked the studio and then she stood me up! I don't know why to this day. So me and Phil were sitting there twiddling our thumbs and he asked if I knew anyone else. I'd just played in a wedding covers band on the Saturday, and the band's singer, Verna Francis, was amazing. I said, "Do you want to give her a try?" and he said, "Yep". She came in and smashed it.
When we put it out it just went whoosh. It was my first big tune globally. All of the big DJs around the world were playing it. All of a sudden my life had changed overnight.
Almost exactly a year ago today Phil died. A lot of people were contacting me, I did a thing for Gilles Peterson on the BBC, and a lot of DJs were talking about his work. This is the one track that everyone remembers. It was a really important tune for me personally but it's important to me because Phil and I made it and he's not around anymore. I became part of the world scene through Phil producing this tune. It was a gift that Phil gave me.
Still to this day people associate me and my sound with that record - which, a lot of it, is Phil's sound.
Aguas de Marco - Antonio Carlos Jobim
I grew up listening to jazz but my father, Kevin Haines, who's also a musician, also loved a lot of Brazilian artists and I really loved how Brazilian music made me feel.
This song was the first dance at my wedding. Jaimie and I are coming up to 11 years married now. It's one of those songs that's going to be with me for life. I love everything about it.
Electric Relaxation - A Tribe Called Quest
This is off the album Midnight Maruaders, which came out in 1993. Growing up with jazz the thing that I loved about hip-hop was that there was always jazz music in it.
I love this song. If you listen to this and then listen to Lady J [from Haines' debut record Shift Left] this is where I got the idea from. Lady J was like my version of this song. I'm wearing my influence right on my sleeve with that one.
Teen Town - Weather Report
I bought this record in Fifth Form and I've still got the same copy I bought from Real Groovy. It's from 1977 but it sounds like it could have been made yesterday.
The very first day I went into the studio with Phil to make Sound Travels we sampled a little hi-hat break from this, so there's a little bit of Weather Report DNA in Earth is the Place.
I don't listen to Weather Report all the time but it's part of who I am. The world's never seen anyone like them. They were amazing.
California Soul - Marlena Shaw
I moved to New York in 1991 and spent three incredibly formative years there. This was pre-Giuliani. New York was still very dangerous and very funky. It was an amazing time. There was a radio station and I remember listening to California Soul and thinking "wow, what a great song".
Years later, in 2001, I was asked to join Marlena's band and also play support for her. They were her first UK shows in something like 30 years. It was a big deal. They were huge shows. My mind was blown playing with her and I did a load of tours with her. We became very close. I don't know why but she really looked after me. I feel incredibly blessed to call her my friend and to have worked so closely with her.
I met Marlena when she was in her 50s - she's in her 70's now - and I've just turned 50 and now a big part of my life is working with younger artists. I've just opened a recording studio in Ponsonby where I'm producing young artists.
Phil really believed in me, and Marlena really believed in me. They're two of my biggest musical mentors. At this stage of my life, if I recognise talent I really try to foster it and give them encouragement and the spotlight as well.
*As told to Karl Puschmann. Nathan Haines plays Jazz Auckland, a free performance in Aotea Square on Monday January 31, Auckland Anniversary Day, with support from Arjuna Oakes and DJs.