PLAYLIST: Debby Friday’s Songs That Remind Her Why She Loves Music

The experimental producer lists ten tracks that helped her keep things fresh while writing DEATH DRIVE.

For the amount of time rock music has been around, there certainly hasn’t been much innovation. If you look at half the rock artists charting today, you’ll find a variety of second rate knockoffs of bands spanning the second half of the twentieth century, while the other half are uninspired, EDM-laced projections of some Idiocratic future. There’s really only one way forward, it seems, and that’s with cacophonous, pulsating noise.

One of a handful of noise and experimental artists you should really know about, Vancouver-based producer Debby Friday is on the cutting edge of this push to further the cause. On her forthcoming EP DEATH DRIVE, her industrial beats recall the club-ready new wave ushered into the musical lexicon in the 1980s custom-fitted to the anxieties of the internet age. While the pumping “FATAL” and jungle-inspired “GOOD AND EVIL” are technically danceable, the more ambient cuts, such as the Lana Del Rabies–assisted “TREASON” and the Chino Amobi–featuring closer “NEIGHT FICTIVE,” are the true standouts, running with the best electronic soundscapes her new label Deathbomb Arc has to offer. 

With plenty of musical repetition out there that’s certain to burn you out, Friday compiled for us a playlist to reverse the effect of exhaustion that comes with yet another press cycle for a band of five similar-looking and conventionally attractive white men from Southern California whose sound can only be described as “indie” or “alternative” or simply “rock” and can’t possibly be as poor as they make themselves look. From the trailblazing Afrobeat of Fela Kuti to the solipsistic universes composed by Lil Ugly Mane, these are the songs that remind Debby Friday why she loves music.

DEATH DRIVE is out August 16 via Deathbomb Arc. You can pre-order it here.

Zeal & Ardor, “Devil Is Fine”

I like going to shows by myself and I discovered this band one day when I was still new to Vancouver and looking for something to do on a weeknight. The place was packed, the energy was high, and they delivered a great performance, over an hour of pure music. I’ve always found black oral traditions like negro spirituals and village folk music very compelling, and to combine that with the catharsis of heavy metal? It’s like, duh! It just makes sense.

Lana Del Rabies, “Devour”

We are now labelmates (and she’s featured on my new EP, a track we collaborated on called “TREASON”) but I found Lana Del Rabies’ Shadow World album last year and it changed my life, changed my understanding of noise and music. “Devour” is a track I kept going back to and getting more from. There is such a comfort and ache in its ritualistic, rhythmic noise, and I love the sound of her voice yelling, “Let me eat your heart out!”

FIENDGRIEF, “Eat the Pain”

I love the internet because it allows me to discover gems like Fiendgrief. Their 2017 album Hatred is a definite go-to when I’m in the mood to dance hard and thrash about. This song is the perfect blend of spunky, punky, electro club attitude. I love all the distortion.

Death Grips, “Lil Boy”

It should come as no surprise that I’m a long time Death Grips fan. I actually took up drum lessons after watching a video of Zach Hill on YouTube. I am consistently inspired by their ability to create their own unique sound that doesn’t even sound like itself. Every release is interesting and different and they’re always trying new things sonically, which is something I aim to do. This song is my ringtone and I hear it everyday.

Diamanda Galás, “I Put a Spell on You”

Diamanda fuckin’ Galás!!! I found her through my academic research of all places. I admire her musicality and performance work a lot. I absolutely love her rendition of this song. It really does Screamin’ Jay Hawkins justice. Her shrieks and screams are so visceral and cathartic. And the way she oscillates between a gentle, caressing whisper to a booming, full-bodied howl is beautiful, very theatrical. The whole thing is messy, chaotic, and perfect.

Lil Ugly Mane, “Ejaculated Poisoned Wrench”

A friend introduced me to Lil Ugly Mane six or seven years ago via his Mista Thug Isolation album. I think he’s a talented producer and I enjoy a lot of the music he’s made under this moniker. He is someone who can blend all kinds of genres, take all sorts of influences and make it into his own thing and I appreciate that. This song is the first one off Oblivion Access and, in my opinion, there’s no better way to kick off an album than with a crushing noise composition. It cleanses the palate.

Betty Davis, “They Say I’m Different”

Big and bold: that’s what I love about Betty Davis. She was not afraid to growl and moan and make a deeply feminine noise. Her influence is all over my music and in the ways I choose to be loud. This song is probably her most popular one, and one of my favorites as well. The guitar is sexy and psychedelic, the drums make it so you can’t help but move and the funk is palpable. I love that she pays homage to so many other great black blues and rock and roll artists.

Kanye West, “Love Lockdown”

Kanye is one of my producer inspirations. I think he has one of the most interesting discographies around. He’s not afraid to try things musically and his impact on hip-hop and music in general is evident. I appreciate that about him. I was still in high school when it came out, but 808s & Heartbreak showed me how powerful electronic music can be, and how these machines and computers can be used to amplify a message. The drums in this song blow me away every time because it’s like I can feel them in my body, vibrating me from the inside out. There is something very primal and diasporic about the rhythm.

Sevdaliza, “Darkest Hour”

Sevdaliza impresses me all the time with how much she’s grown and changed musically over the course of her career so far. I respect her artistry a lot, and the fact that she very much does her own thing, at her own time. I think the writing in this song is fantastic. It is much more darkwave-esque than anything she’s ever put out before and I think it’s a successful experiment. She really makes it her own.

Fela Kuti, “Mr Grammarticalogylisationalism Is the Boss”

Fela was the first African superstar I had ever encountered, and I remember being amazed that this person, from the same country as I was born in, could have such an impact on the world. He will always be an inspiration to me, as he was a true musical pioneer and badass. This song displays the layers of complexity and synthesis in his music. Everything is in an ever-shifting state of fusion: trumpets, shakers, guitars, drums, his voice, the band, everything. He was very good at that and listening to his albums taught me a lot about groove and how to let the music play you.

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