Roxanne Clifford talks Kate Crudgington through the songs that inspire the music of Patience.
A collector of shiny synth textures and punchy drum parts from her favourite songs, Patience, AKA Roxanne Clifford, is like a musical magpie.
The L.A. based songwriter - formerly the frontwoman of indie pop band Veronica Falls - uses these elements to structure and embellish her own sound as Patience, which started life as "bedroom synth project" but is now a fully-fledged debut album titled Dizzy Spells.
When Clifford was deciding on which songs to select for the feature she decided to look to her current musical fascinations rather than her past. "I tried to focus on songs that were more relevant to Patience, because I've played in a lot of guitar bands, so I've got a tonne of influences." There are common threads connecting her choices however, a DIY attitude, a natural aptitude for experimentation and a sense of loyalty to her many collaborators.
Clifford explains she’s continually inspired by her creative friends, from Free Love members Lewis Cook and Suzi Rodden, an integral part of the Glasgow music community, to Rose McDowall, the lead singer of Strawberry Switchblade with whom she traversed the streets of Japan.
Perhaps unexpectedly - to both Clifford and to us - The Bee Gees are both a firm favourite and a source of inspiration for Patience. Whilst she favours Robin Gibb's obscure 80s' solo record How Old Are You? the Gibb brothers’ crystalline production and tasteful use of synthesisers is something she wants to replicate in her own music.
We could make many a pun about Clifford's love of the Gibb brothers here, but perhaps it's best to exercise some Patience (awful, we know) and read through her choices below instead.
“I literally cannot remember when I first heard this song, but I've loved it for as long as I can remember. I love the video too and I sort of tried to rip the video off a little bit for my song ‘White Of An Eye'. It was a big inspiration.
“I just love how simple the performance element of it is, it's really dreamy and flirty and powerful. I didn't actually realise ‘Land of My Dreams’ was originally sung by Aretha Franklin when I first heard it, but both versions are amazing. I think it's always a good sign of a well written song when it can withstand a genre change like that. The words and the melody really stand up to the test of time.
“That said, it's really easy to butcher a cover a brilliant song, but Anna Domino really does the song justice and transforms it in to her own.”
“A friend of mine made me a compilation called 'Female Voices of Italo' and I'm pretty sure this was on it and there's a lot of other great stuff on there too. My favourite mix of ‘The Dark of Light’ is a shorter, more concise version of the song - unlike the YouTube link I've sent you - and it's really good.
“A lot of the Italo songs can be a little bit annoying or over-produced. I also really love people like Valerie Dore and Vivien Vee, sometimes it feels a bit too theatrical for my mood, but I feel like this Jessica Blue song has the perfect combination of being emotional and uplifting.
“This is the only song of hers that I know of to be in existence, maybe there's more, but I’ve Googled her before and it's the only song I could find. It was just a real inspiration and I stole a really obvious drum fill from this song too in one of my songs, I won't say which one though!”
“I can't remember when I first heard this song, but I feel like it's a song that I've known forever. I got really obsessed with running when I was living in London and I used to listen to a lot of early Chicago House stuff, because it was a really good tempo for running to and keeping your momentum.
“This song would come on and I'd always skip back and play it over again. I love how primitive it is, the sentiment of the words and how human the vocals are, which is not always that common in songs of the same genre.
“I really want to cover this song actually, but I probably shouldn't say that now in case somebody else covers it! There's some really prominent melodies on it that come out of nowhere - very confident, loud synth parts that come in and out - and I definitely use that technique in some of my songs.”
“The whole album How Old Are You? is really good. I first heard of it a couple of years ago, a friend in L.A. asked me if I'd heard this lost Robin Gibb synth record, because I don't think it was very popular at the time it came out. I don't think it was what people wanted to hear then. It's reminiscent of ELO - who I also love - and this song just brings me so much emotion, I always put it on when I'm cooking for some reason and I end up dancing to it around the kitchen.
“I also didn't realise I was such a big Bee Gees fan until I stopped and thought about it for a second and realised how great their songs are. The production is really good, everything sounds very clear and they incorporate a lot of synthesisers in a really tasteful way. It sounds really electronic, but it's also got this live feeling to it, which is really good.
“That's something I'd like to incorporate more into my own music and having more live musicians in the recording process. I'm trying to write newer songs in that direction a little bit, so I'm not sat doing everything on my own.”
“I can't remember when I first heard this - maybe one of my friends put it on social media or something - and I was like ‘Oh my God, this song is amazing, why haven't I heard it before?’ It became a favourite song of mine instantly.
“I feel like it has this really magical quality, that feels unique and is hard to replicate. It sounds really simple on first listen, but I've analysed the song and they do a lot of things in the production, bringing synth clouds in and out to add drama, and introduce slight changes in the vocal textures. It seems simple, but there's more going on and it's really well constructed.
“I love how prominent the vocal is and I tried to do that on one of the songs on my record, a song called 'Silent House'. I took this idea of keeping the vocal quite bare and more impactful than I usually do. This track was a big influence for that. I've definitely thought ‘How do I make a song like this?’ before.”
“Lewis and Suzi from Free Love are friends of mine from Glasgow, they both have this really great energy about them and really good taste. I've recorded a bunch of songs with Lewis in the past and they had a home studio called Full Ashram. They were really good to work with, I can play any synth sound and Lewis just knows how to capture it.
“They do so many different things, including these all-night ceremonies where they play music and do yoga sessions to synthesiser music. They do really interesting stuff and they have an inspiring sound.
“I just absolutely love this song of theirs. It's everything I love about electronic music, it's got elements of New Order and there's a really poppy vocal on the chorus.”
“Strawberry Switchblade have released records on the same label as me in the UK and I went to Japan with Rose McDowall, the singer in Strawberry Switchblade, a few years ago. Rose is really fun to play with and she's just an absolutely amazing character.
“I really love this song, there's a lot of strings in there and the melodies are amazing; they've mixed that really well with analogue drum machines. The lyrics are great, and it really reminds me of living in Glasgow and the community there, how everybody's really supportive and knows each other. It was great to go to Japan with Rose, she has loads of amazing stories from back in the day.”
“This album is really interesting. When I first heard Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides I didn't like it very much, and then on the second or third listen I became increasingly obsessed with it. The first track on it is called 'Immaterial' and it's really crazy, it sounds like 'Barbie Girl' mixed with I don't know... it's really unusual!
“I read that SOPHIE does all this pitch-shifting with the vocals and I messed around with that a little bit in my songs at some points too.
“'Is It Cold In The Water?' is my favourite track on the album. It's really immersive and sounds really experimental, which was something that I'd not really come across before. Some of the sounds at the beginning of the song really feel like you’re submerged in water and coming out of it. It's a very physical feeling.
“The lyrics are super simple and repetitive and it builds to this euphoric state, which is brilliant. There's some really high-octane synths that are really grating, but somehow it all works. It's perfect.”
“I don't really know anything about Carol and I don't really want to know! The sleeve on the record is sort of mysterious and it doesn't give that much away, it's just a black and white drawing with the name Carol on the front. I don't know who Carol is, I think she might be from Belgium?!
“This is a track that I kind of know nothing about, but I love this song and its’ really primitive nature; it feels like it got made really quickly - as if it's a lost gem.
“This is actually the B-side of the single, which I think people liked more. The A-side is called 'Breakdown' and it's a more up-tempo number, but ‘So Low’ is really dreamy. It’s sort of in the same ball park as A.C. Marias, who I really like and who was around at a similar time. It just sounds effortless.”