If Hamburg-based “Slackerqueen” Ilgen-Nur had listened to the doubts instilled in her mind by the petty comments of her male teenage counterparts, she wouldn’t be preparing to release her debut album Power Nap on 30th August via her own label Power Nap Records. “If some stupid boys…hadn’t given me the feeling that I had nothing on my plate, I would have knocked something out four or five years ago at the age of 18/19” she recounts, “It took me so long to rebuild my self-confidence”.
But that’s exactly what she’s done, having released an EP titled No Emotions in 2017, playing slots at The Great Escape Festival, Eurosonic and Spot Festival, and even having her song ’17’ chosen for Netflix series How to Sell Drugs online (fast).
We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Ilgen-Nur to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to her brand new track ‘Nothing Surprises Me’ at the end of this post.
1. Kate Nash – Made of Bricks
This album is probably the reason why I’m writing music. Made of Bricks by Kate Nash was the first album I purchased that wasn’t something that was considered “mainstream” or some sort of music I got to know through TV or the radio. Actually, my sister recommended it to me after hearing the song ‘Foundations’ which I feel like to this day is an iconic indie song for an entire generation. I was immediately drawn to the story-telling songwriting and I remember listening to this album over and over again for years and years (starting when I was 11) and just getting obsessed over the lyrics, remembering every single lyric and getting lost in the characters Kate Nash was singing about. For example, ‘Mariella’ — I even have a reference to that song in my own song ‘Cool’! I remember practicing the songs on my piano over and over again and spending endless hours watching Kate Nash interviews. After all, she was my first proper role model and I am more than thankful for that. Through her, I discovered bands like Nirvana and Hole and Bikini Kill. Kate Nash taught me that I don’t have to be professional in playing an instrument to create something that I like, which I cherish to this day. And oh ‘Nicest Thing’ is still a classic to cry to!
2. Hole – Live Through This
When I first started getting into Hole, I read an interview with Courtney Love in which she said “I want every girl in the world to pick up a guitar and start screaming” — I believe that this statement was the ultimate reason why I asked my parents to get me an electric guitar for my 16th birthday. I started playing a bunch of Hole songs on guitar which was super fun and to this day, I love playing ‘Miss World’ on guitar. It’s so simple, yet so energetic. Ultimately, after watching all these videos of Courtney Love perform and re-watching all these dark and dreamy Hole music videos I felt like for the first time in my life I was allowed to scream and be angry at the world. It felt, and still feels liberating to this day. Obviously at the beginning of my Hole fandom I didn’t really get what most songs were about, yet later re-connected and understood the themes of sexual abuse, trauma and feeling angry and empty. It’s a powerful album to me, and it’s also probably one of my favorite artworks.
3. Elliott Smith – Either/Or
This one I have only discovered a year ago or so. Whilst hanging out at my bassists place ‘Between the Bars’ came on and I was drawn to it immediately. My guitarist and roommate had Either/Or on vinyl and I couldn’t stop listening to it, I put it on almost every morning for months, got completely sad and lost in all the songs. I was surprised that it literally took me this long to discover Elliott Smith, but I’m also thankful and excited about it. I’m very drawn to his guitar sound and the overlapping of vocals and the general lo-fi sound. I actually once got asked if the title of my first EP No Emotions is linked to Elliott Smith’s song ‘Waltz #2’ where he sings “she shows no emotion at all, stares into space like a dead china doll“ — but at the time I didn’t even know the song, only later listened to it randomly and that line came up and I was super perplexed and didn’t know what to say. I felt even more connected to his whole persona and music. ‘Angeles’ is by far one of my favorite songs generally and on this album.
4. Jeff Buckley – Grace
Every time someone plays ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’ in the van whilst we are on tour, I believe at least one person in the car cries. I don’t know what else to say, other than this is an amazing album to cry to and be melancholic and dramatic. It’s also just perfect to me, and I feel like it’s extremely underrated among other musicians. I actually don’t think that a lot of my friends who play guitar music know or love this album, but I feel like it’s that one album everyone can find a song on that they connect with. Jeff Buckley’s voice is so beautiful, and I don’t even know how and what he plays on guitar because it’s definitely nothing simple but it sucks you in like crazy. His lyrics are so pure and magical, one of my favorites by him on this album is on the song ‘So Real’ – “Love, let me sleep tonight on your couch / and remember the smell of the fabric of your simple city dress”. And “We walked around ’til the moon got full / like a plate”. It’s by far one of my favorite albums, it’s quiet and it’s loud and dramatic – it’s everything. I’m definitely influenced by Buckley’s singing even though I would never compare my voice to his.
5. Soko – I thought I was an Alien
Soko is not only my fashion and makeup inspiration, but also taught me so many things. I love all of her songs, but this debut album is special to me. It’s extremely raw and Soko doesn’t shy away when it comes to being in touch which her negative emotions and being completely honest with her listeners. I love her stories and her calm voice, and I like the way she’s switching instruments when she’s playing live (even though I haven’t seen her live yet, unfortunately). She has this one song on this album called ‘I Just Want To Make It New With You”, which initially made me pick up my bass more when it came to song writing. Overall, Soko was my first queer indie icon and every one of my queer friends has cried at least once to the “We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow’ video. I love Soko, and I’m so excited for her future records and videos.
Thanks to Ilgen-Nur for sharing her favourite with us. Follow her on Facebook for more updates.