How to Dress Well’s “I Am Toward You” Influences Playlist

Tom Krell shares how Arca, ANOHNI, and The Angelic Process inspired his first new release under the moniker in six years.

How to Dress Well’s I Am Toward You Influences Playlist

Tom Krell shares how Arca, ANOHNI, and The Angelic Process inspired his first new release under the moniker in six years.

Words: Will Schube

Photo: Y. Arslan

May 08, 2024

How to Dress Well’s I Am Toward You feels strikingly intimate, like a peek at a diary that scans as if its writer knew that it will one day be made public. On his sixth album and first full-length since 2018’s The Anteroom, Tom Krell scatters tidbits of intimacy and musings on our time to be understood both now and in the future. 

There’s the patient joy of “Contingency/Necessity (Modality of Fate),” which loops around rugged synths and campfire acoustic guitar. Krell sings of a memory from the Buddhist monastery, where he wondered if he ever made a single right decision in his life. Remarkably, the atmosphere of the music creates a world as transparent and familiar as the one heard in his lyrics. It’s a rare feat, but the sonic and narrative attention to details are held in equal esteem. The result is an album that can delight in a number of ways.

To offer some insight on the new project, we asked Krell to share some songs that have inspired him during and after the making of this record. Check out all his picks below, and pre-order I Am Toward You before it lands this Friday via Sargent House.

Rachel Bonch-Bruevich, “Untitled (DDR 1972)”
I’ve been discovering unbelievably beautiful and strange music from the Time Is Away NTS show since, like, 2018, and they were doing it for years before I was on-board. This is a particularly beautiful little piano song with a truly unique room sound and tone.

ML Buch, “Working It Out”
ML Buch made my favorite album of 2023—such an original, weird, poetic yet straightforward record. 

You’ll Never Get To Heaven, “Dust”
“Dust” is my favorite song from my favorite album from 2021, and I listen to it constantly still. Really unique approach to the guitar that influenced my song “New Confusion.”

Bladee, “desiree”
I have a playlist called “Beautiful Bladee Songs” that I listen to all the time, especially when I’m driving with my daughter in the car. It feels spiritually uplifting and makes me feel full on life-emotions—and I hope she grows up and feels that way, too, and listens to Bladee and says “My dad used to play me this music in the car.”

Mark Isham, “Sympathy and Acknowledgement”
Windham Hill stuff is always inspiring—I play Robbie Basho’s Visions of the Country constantly, but this Isham tune was a major inspo for me while making I Am Toward You

Tara Clerkin Trio, “The Turning Ground”
Such a bop from the Tara Clerkin Trio. Occupies a unique place at the intersection of, like, Ren Faire–core and sample driven, synthetic ambient.

Gi Gi, “Montjuïc”
More subtle and dramatic beauty from Quiet Time Tapes, a great label to check out.

How to Dress Well, “Talking to You”
It’s so cool as an artist to get older. Like, I made this song 10-plus years ago and everything in my life is different now. And I think it’s beautiful. I think of performing this live in Helsinki with my friend Aaron and just feeling so emotional and alive. So special to me.

Victorian Secret, “Stealing From Whole Foods”
This song fucking rips—major influence on “Crypt Sustain.”

Arca, “Estrogen” 
Can’t wait ’til Alej releases a beautiful ambient record that just blows everyone away. This song is a stunner.

How to Dress Well, “Nonkilling 13 | Ceiling for the Sky”
This is my favorite song from my last record—one that I feel didn’t get enough shine, so I put it here. The first half is, like, mystical hymn over dub techno thing, the second half is one of the most beautiful, yearning-filled things I’ve ever made.

CFCF, “Strange Form of Life” (North Americans Remix)
Two of my best friends made this song, which is one of the most incredible things I’ve heard. It’s an honor to know them—I’ll have dinner with them tonight and tell them I wrote this.

ANOHNI, “Scapegoat”
The most incredible singing from the most incredible singer. Incredibly poetic and didactic and powerful. I love art that offers a hard, undeniable ethical norm—she is the north star for this stuff.

Current 93, “All the World Makes Great Blood”
This song features a cool, sort of satanic tone running through the whole thing—highly recommend spending a lot of time with Current 93 until it clicks with you.

Sandy Denny, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” (BBC Session – John Pell 11/9/73)
Simply the most profound song ever. 

The Angelic Process, “The Resonance of Goodbye (Weighing Souls with Sand Version)”
I’m closing with one of the heaviest songs by one of the most amazing bands. Read their Wiki and go down the rabbit hole of The Angelic Process, you won’t regret it. So powerful and fundamentally sad and stunning.