After performing with Simon Raymonde’s Lost Horizon’s collective, Helen Ganya Brown steps out with Vanishing Lands – her new album as Dog In The Snow.
New single, Roses, is the latest taster from the LP that will be released through Bella Union on 15th November. In preparation for its release, we caught up with the songwriter to discuss influences. These are her Sound & Vision picks:
Three favourite albums:
– An all time favourite: Come on feel the Illinoise by Sufjan Stevens
I owe this album and Sufjan a lot in my music-making education. When I discovered this album in school, I pretty much de-constructed every song and was completely in awe of the arrangements. I would also use any chance to write about it in school essays!
– A favourite from this year: All My People by Maria Somerville
A beautiful and understated album, I fell in love with its sound upon first listen – it’s so hazy. Also, it’s a reminder that you don’t always need to hear the vocals in an album; it forces you to project your own interpretation on to it making it even more personal to the listener.
– An influence on my album: On Land by Brian Eno
I barely listened to anything when I wrote the songs to Vanishing Lands, and when I did it was usually Brian Eno. On Land felt like a geographical parallel to what I was trying to navigate in the dream world in my songs.
One favourite book:
I recently finished On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong which came out this year, and I’ve never read anything like it. The writing is so beautiful, flourishing even whilst it tackled the heartbreaking mosaic lives and identities that came out of the Vietnam War. It was also so nice to see a familial relationship I could relate to; Vietnamese culture shares some similarities with Thai culture (even more so for me ethnically), and I felt so much comfort to hear voices and characters that I know of in real life. There are so many stories and voices of the mixed race experience out there that I long to hear. When you see and hear more from those who are similar to you it feels less lonely, and I’m glad the mainstream is beginning to make space for these voices.
One favourite film:
Eraserhead by David Lynch is still by favourite Lynch film. I love films that portray detached interactions between people. It’s that strange feeling that you get in dreams, when no one really is listening or acknowledging what you say. I like how that seeps into Lynch’s films so much; it can really make you look at your day to day in a weird way, it feels like looking at your own interactions from far away and through a magnifying glass. It’s what I’d imagine a theological god would do if they were bounded by the rules of reality.
One song that’s important to me:
Sleepwalkers Woman by Scott Walker.
I’m still pretty heartbroken by Scott Walker’s death this year. This song is one of my favourites. It helped inform the mood of Vanishing Lands so much, a kind of medieval land with a lot of danger bubbling underneath. I’ve been covering this song a lot at gigs, and it suits the monochrome landscape mood. Thank you, Scott!