Buried rhythms and DIY bass: 10 tracks that inspired Voidhood’s debut single Gillotine

Just last week we came across Gillotine, the spine-tingling debut single from Canberra solo artist Voidhood. It sounded like something dragged straight from the underworld – a sinister piece of music that pulled you in with dark tendrils, holding your attention like a fish hook.

As much as we loved it, we had no fucking clue where the genre-less Gillotine had come from. We reached out to Voidhood for a set of influences, so he came back with 10 tracks and a Spotify playlist.

gillotine voidhood
Photo: Anna Grubel

Which 10 tracks fed into Gillotine, the formless debut single from Voidhood? Dive into the mind of one of Canberra’s most abstract new songwriters.

Talking Heads – Born Under Punches

In 2016 I read David Byrne’s How Music Works. There is a part in which Byrne details Talking Heads’ approach to recording Remain in Light and shaping the immense grooves on the record. Byrne describes how initially, a single track would be recorded on its own and then additional lines were added by band members one by one, eventually summating into a cohesive sound.

This forced me to listen to the record in a whole new light (haha geddit). With the large instrumentation I had in mind for Gillotine, and only one microphone at my disposal, I entirely adopted this layering method. Gillotine began with the baritone guitar riff, followed by the drums (for which I recorded each part of the kit individually), and then the guitar, synth bass, glockenspiel, trumpet, so on and so forth.

Flying Lotus – Dead Man’s Tetris

Ooft this is a tune and a half. Flying Lotus is everything I dream to be as a producer. The synth on this absolutely pumps and the sheer dizziness of it consumes me. I love songs that have a physical impact on you.

One day I will make a song that makes someone vomit. FlyLo’s influence will probably become more apparent once you hear other tunes off my upcoming EP. Stay tuned.

Wes Montgomery – Four On Six

Wes has been an idol of mine since I first discovered him as a 16 year old. I haven’t able to pull myself away from his catalogue since. I studied jazz guitar as an extension course at the Australian National University during years 11 and 12, and as part of this found myself enveloped by the jazz world.

Four on Six is Wes’ defining track off his magnum opus. Transcribing his solos inspired some of the buried guitar licks in Gillotine.

Iceage – Forever

This tune hits me hard. It propels with a momentum that can’t be stopped, and the wall gets kicked down when those horns come in. The way Elias manipulates his voice and swallows you whole made me unafraid of getting confrontational and raw with my vocals. This song drags you deep underwater, and it’s no wonder I love it.

Danny Brown – When It Rain

Atrocity Exhibition being the top album of the year I wrote Gillotine means it couldn’t not make an appearance on this list. Danny’s straight spitting aside, the high intensity groove and obscure percussion sounds provided by Paul White on this song are what I’m all about.

Charles Mingus – Haitian Fight Song

Mingus taught me bass. He showed me its capacity to control a song and compelled me to put the instrument in the spotlight. This is despite never owning a bass guitar. The guitar heard on Gillotine is actually a floating bridge guitar that I’ve strung with the heaviest gauge strings available and tuned them down.

The resulting instrument is three semitones higher than a bass but also has six strings. A friend of mine labelled it a ‘baritone guitar’, and it makes a lot of logical sense, so that’s the name that has stuck. Maybe it’ll get a more exciting name one day.

King Krule – Has This Hit?

Krule was the first artist I encountered using dense jazz chords in a more mainstream context, and as a jazz student at the time I ate this up. As well as this he had a vocal range that matched mine. My first inclination in the production of my voice was to hide it behind fuzz and amp effects (á la Car Seat Headrest), but Krule taught me to spread it with some thick reverb and force it down the listener’s throat.

King Gizzard – Sketches Of Brunswick East I

Sketches was released when I was in the production stage of Gillotine. This catchy ditty brought bass to the forefront of the mix, sidelining Gizz’s guitars for a bit, and this resonated with me and was thus reflected in my own production.

The Drones – Taman Shud

Listening to Taman Shud will give you more than any of my words could offer. Let’s just say this song made its mark on Gillotine with its over-compressed toms and unabashed abrasive style.

Vampire Weekend – Horchata

The inclusion of this tune might come as a shock, but picture this… it’s 2012, I’m in the 8th grade; a true indie sweetheart. Contra is the most played album on my iPod Touch. The production on this album is incredible and the combination of sounds were what swept me up as a young teen.

I would spend my spare time trying to recreate songs from this by recording stock instruments on a MIDI keyboard in Logic Pro. No matter how many times I listen to this album, the sonic beauty of it will always keep it a fresh sensation for my ears. The eclectic pallet inspired my personal combination of sounds. Cheeky glockenspiel will always prevail.

– VH