EXCLUSIVE: SHAYLEE shares five influential records + New Single, Audrey
by Elle Archer
Heya, I’m Elle Archer, better known by my alias Shaylee. Here, I’m presenting five records that have shaped and influenced the way I make music. While not an exhaustive list by any means, this should shed some light on how I got to where I’m at now in terms of my songwriting and production style.
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco
this album is such a critical darling already that little is left to be said about it, but this and the records preceding and following it (Summerteeth and A Ghost is Born, respectively) are all enormous points of influence for me. from the swirling arpeggiated synths on “Heavy Metal Drummer”, to the harrowing and spacious take on late-stage capitalism and regret that is “Ashes of American Flags”, to the subtly tearjerking strings on “Jesus, Etc.”, this record has earned a permanent home in the record-making part of my brain, mostly in my implementations of noise and ambience as well as my approach to engineering.
Laughing Stock by Talk Talk
This record was created using a uniquely painstaking and time-consuming recording method where each sound was recorded individually, often by guest musicians, by sitting them in a room alone and sending only a few parts of the song to their headphones as a reference point for them to improvise over. Only first takes were allowed. Afterwards, every take was meticulously sifted through, with a sizable majority of the content ending up on the cutting room floor. The result is a singularly beautiful listening experience that stands apart from any other album I know of, apart from its predecessor Spirit of Eden, both of which have had an enormous influence on the way I approach things like arrangements, mixes, and drum sounds, especially on my latest single “Audrey.” There isn’t an ounce of compromise in this record, and there could be no more fitting conclusion to Talk Talk’s discography. (RIP Mark Hollis 🤘😔)
Blonde by Frank Ocean
The biggest point of influence I take from this record is its approach to sequencing. Clocking in at over an hour, this record takes a multitude of stylistic detours along the way, often with songs starting and stopping in a flash (ie fan favorite “White Ferrari” which begins right on the first verse with an audible click). There’s a distinct deliberate looseness to the flow of the tracks here that feels reminiscent of the non-linearity of healing, which itself seems to be a central theme of the record. It’s a genius approach to record-making that puts Frank in a class all his own, and it’s a huge part in what keeps me and so many other people coming back to this modern classic of a record.
Attack on Memory by Cloud Nothings
This record holds a special place for me. Being a Steve Albini-produced project, the engineering is flawless and packs an enormous punch, which makes the themes of isolation, depression, and uselessness hit the listener much harder. Songs like “Stay Useless” and “Wasted Days” are forever burned into my brain, and their approach to handling emotional topics with such a simultaneously powerful and hooky sound has laid the groundwork for a ton of songs I’ve written since.
Murmur by R.E.M.
I remember when I first heard this record, I was taken aback at how cool and unique the guitar and bass tones were. The beautiful chiming arpeggios on tracks like “Catapult” and “Talk About the Passion” caught my ear as something I needed to have in my music. After finding their first Letterman performance on YouTube, I was surprised to find that Peter Buck and Mike Mills had matching black Rickenbackers running through Fender tube amps. This started an obsession with Rickenbacker guitars that culminated in me acquiring my own fireglo 330 on the cheap in late 2019 in what felt like a total act of provenance. The guitar has since become a staple of my sound as well as my image, and along with my old Martin acoustic, is one of my most prized possessions.
Band photo courtesy of Public Display PR
Audrey was arranged, performed, and produced by Elle Madison
Co-written with Elizabeth Pastor
Mastered by Amy Dragon at Telegraph Mastering.
“Audrey” is dedicated to Audrey Howell
”It was something I felt compelled to write about. Beyond the fact that she was a musician and a trans woman just like me, it seemed like she was someone worth honoring…” – Elle Archer