Take Ten: 16B picks the tracks that have inspired him
To coincide with his new album release, Omid 16B picks out ten tracks key to his musical development over the years
The output of British-Iranian Londoner Omid Nourizadeh comes in many shapes and forms; from the deep house records under one of his many aliases Changing Shape in ‘99, to the electro breaks of ‘Beez’ under his Sixteen Million Dollar Man guise in the early ‘00s. We also should mention his work as Phaser; the productions that epitomised the early sound of UK rave, trance and acid-tinged techno. But perhaps most prevalent is his work as 16B, with releases dating way back to the mid ’90s — on labels like Eye Q and Hooj Choons, as well as Sex On Wax, which he owned alongside fellow Londoner Desyn Masiello, and his very own Alola.
He made waves in the late noughties as SOS with Desyn and other pal Demi — one of the first dance music trios — before they went their separate ways, and now Alola makes a welcome return this month with the release of 16B’s cinematic new album ‘Silenciety’, drawing from an expansive range of Omid’s musical influences. “My sound through the years has ranged from indie-rock all the way through to deep house and electronica, from being in a band to making music with machines, and this album embraces the transition between those two periods in my life. I wanted to create something that demands the listener’s attention and avoid quick judgement,” Omid tells DJ Mag.
“We used to try doing our own cover of ‘Tainted Love’ in our very early days at band rehearsals in Richmond College. Mostly, it was our gateway to writing our own songs, plus our girlfriends would normally come along during our lunch breaks and we’d jam. They’d ask us to play it as they knew the words and our own songs were more instrumental and unstructured at first.”
“I heard this for the first time at a very young age, but it kept revealing itself more and more through my teen years and has been a piece of music that neutralises me and makes all my senses strong again. I used it a lot on loop sometimes, especially when I was writing lyrics.”
“A friend of mine, Anthony, was moving from the UK to Australia and sold me his entire record collection of 700 records for 500 quid in 1997, which had everything from early house, hardcore, techno and acid. This educated me and opened my eyes to sampling. ‘Play With The Voice’ was one of the first records which taught me better drum programming, it made me curious about the skip and how to get that shake sounding as swingy and as tight as Joe had produced on this record. Without naming anyone, there’s at least a hundred of us producers which have used, sampled or schooled ourselves with this particular beat — say no more!”
“One of the best pop tracks ever made, it has unique production values which made me ask more questions sonically — even in my early years when I was more interested in writing songs. I did take a shot at remixing it and adding my own elements like guitars and more electronic drums, but the main synth in the original is the reason the record is so futuristic yet so catchy and unique. Extremely underrated, and certainly one of my faves.”
“A local and popular band in Putney called The River gave us our first gig as The Reunion at the White Horse. I had one week to get the band in order and sounding good enough to pull the gig off, but we were short of songs — being only 17, and still rusty with our instruments. I had to find extra tracks with impact, easy to play and easy to remember! ‘Wild Thing’ taught us to play tighter, it’s based on three chords — we practiced it all day and night, it almost felt like it was our song. It taught us to pay more attention to the crowd and add an element of entertainment to our seriousness as a band.”
“Believe it or not, when I heard this the first time it hypnotised me, it transfixed me, it’s simplicity at its best. Its melancholy and its beauty within a realm of darkness somehow infected me. It opened my heart and inspired me throughout my teen years, yet it’s one of the only Cure songs I can hear anytime, anywhere, everywhere, all the time!”
“I was at a dinner party that my mum and dad insisted on me going to when I was 14. I cheekily went through my parents’ friends’ record collection while they were busy socialising and they had ‘Pornography’ by The Cure. I hadn’t heard it yet and had only just got into The Cure. I pestered them till they finally put it on, and the music was so dark and anti-social, I could feel the discourse it reset at dinner.”
“This was one of my mum and dad’s records in their seven-inch collection. Once I bought my first pair of decks, every piece of vinyl in the house was getting a play and this record was one of the first records I beat-matched with house music, which started me thinking there was a way to combine electronic music with other genres.”
“I knew a little about Aphex Twin before this came out and he was always somewhat experimental in my opinion, but when ‘Windowlicker’ arrived, it was the only record that pushed every boundary in electronic music, yet was completely accessible for everyone. Somehow, it had all the ingredients that expressed no compromise artistically, and was presented with a very intelligent and entertaining video that couldn’t be ignored or treated like anything else. It broke every rule.”
“I love everything about this record, from the retro drums at the very start, all the way to its beautifully sung words and relentless energy. To hear something like this when it first came out and still feel its energy today is an example of true songwriting and production values, its timeless.”