Each week we ask music lovers to share seven songs that have shaped their life. This week it's Liz Stokes from power-pop powerhouse The Beths. The band, along with their debut album, Future Me Hates Me, is nominated for five New Zealand Music Awards.
Grand Theft Autumn/Where is Your Boy - Fall Out Boy
When you're 13 or 14 you start associating music with your identity. I was listening to guitar music and within that, I was really attracted to the pop-punk and emo genres. Fall Out Boy was my favourite. This was one of the songs I looked up when I was learning how to play guitar. I was having lessons but you just learn what the teacher brings in. I'd been learning chords and could play Tears in Heaven and a Jack Johnson song. But this was the first one where I used the internet and went, "How do I play this song?" It's got all the great Fall Out Boy s***; it's really wordy and the guitar arrangements are super-tight. The content's probably questionable now but it's just great and I learnt a lot more of their songs.
Fast Times in Tahoe - Elemeno P
I tend to think in albums rather than songs, because it was the era of CDs and I didn't have that many CDs. If I did end up with one I'd listen to it over and over and over again. This was my favourite song on their first record, Love and Disrespect. That was the first album I went into a shop and bought myself. We actually used Fast Times in Tahoe as a sound reference for our first record because it's such a great-sounding song, the guitars just sound huge. The first big show I went to was Elemeno P. I was like 12 or 13 and my sister took me. It had Che Fu, Nesian Mystik, Elemeno P, Steriogram ... it was like every New Zealand artist ever from that period was playing at that show. I couldn't believe it. My first big show. It was life-defining.
Portions for Foxes - Rilo Kiley
Jenny Lewis has always been really big in my musical world. I ended up covering her entire debut record with my best friend, Chelsea Jade. We went to school together and started busking Jenny Lewis covers. That's how we ended up starting our first band, Teacups. Because of that I got into Rilo Kiley and the earlier you go with them the more indie rock they get and less Americana. Portions for Foxes was a big one for me. It's a banger. I listen to it a lot. When we were starting The Beths I didn't know what we were going to sound like but I felt I could point to this song and say, "I want to sound like this."
I saw Jenny Lewis live in Melbourne a few years ago and went straight to the front by myself and just cried the whole time. It was great.
Life of the Party - Chelsea Jade
This song has a particular memory for me in terms of being in the music video. It reminds me of the time around when she moved to LA and went from being here to being gone. I miss her a lot. It was nice to make the music video together. But I woke up that morning and had lost my voice and then I vomited. I called her and said, "I feel real bad." But I still went. It's a really sensory-rich memory for me. The next day I went to the doctor.
Currency Decoration - Girl Friday
We've been touring, so you see a lot of bands, particularly support bands. Girl Friday is who we chose for the last US run. It's always nerve-racking before you go because you know you're gonna see these people every single day for four or five weeks and you just hope that you're gonna get along really well. It's always fine, everyone's always nice, but they were really great. Then you see them play every night so you get really attached to their music. We really did and would listen to them in the van between shows.
You're the Top - Ella Fitzgerald sings Cole Porter
When I was studying music I went all-in on the jazz scene. I was studying trumpet and much as I enjoyed listening to instrumental stuff, the jazz I liked the best was when I knew what the words were. That's when I realised I was missing listening to songwriters and interpreting lyrics. I got super into all of Cole Porter's songs. I like the silly ones where there's a lot of rhyming. He played with words with such finesse, they all lined up beautifully. The songs always have a really clear idea - "This song is about this." Very succinct. And with Ella Fitzgerald, she's one of my favourite singers. She swings the melody so hard and sings them so they sound incredible, just so impeccably placed. This is one of my favourite ones because it's silly and funny. It's not super-jazzy, it's more of a show tune, but I love it.
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Old Town - Say Sue Me
There are bands that are the same level as you, touring the same time as you and you always see them. Maybe you're playing similar festivals or you see their posters at all the venues you play because they're on the same circuit. I kept seeing Say Sue Me so I just checked them out and really liked the sound. It's warm and inviting. It's always nice to put on, I can zone out to it. This song is about friends leaving your hometown and being left behind, which is something I used to think about. Then The Beths left to go touring for a year and a half, so the tables have turned.
* As told to Karl Puschmann