Slow Joy’s “Mi Amigo Slow Joy” Influences Playlist

Esteban Flores shares how Fontaines D.C., Kings of Leon, and more inspired his forthcoming sophomore EP.

Slow Joy’s Mi Amigo Slow Joy Influences Playlist

Esteban Flores shares how Fontaines D.C., Kings of Leon, and more inspired his forthcoming sophomore EP.

Words: Mike LeSuer

Photo: Jay Martin

June 04, 2024

To hear Esteban Flores describe it, the primary influence on his sophomore EP as Slow Joy was himself. After 2023’s Wildflower profiled the external forces (namely the death of his mother) that dredged up each song’s emotions, Mi Amigo Slow Joy is a considerably more zoomed-out profile of the artist. “Naming it ‘Mi Amigo Slow Joy’ is like, ‘Hey, this is rock music. It’s serious, and it's important, and it's me,’” Flores shared upon the EP’s announcement. “And one thing that is me is being a Mexican-American person, and being proud of that culture, and showing it off.”

Which isn’t to say Mi Amigo didn’t take outside inspiration from other artists. Packed between the Pinegrove-shuffle lurch of opener “4U” to the hint of grungegaze powering closer “Lay Me Out, I’m Losing My Mind,” the EP is a celebration of the past three decades of alternative rock music condensed into something more broadly appealing than any of Nevermind’s non-single tracks. To get a better sense of what those specific influences were, we asked Flores to create a playlist outlining 10 tracks by artists ranging from iconic voices of the UK’s past and present post-punk scene to local heroes from Flores’ upbringing in the Southwest US. (And for the record, yeah, I can definitely hear the Kings of Leon inspiration across the EP.)

Ahead of Mi Amigo Slow Joy’s release this Friday via Mick Music, stream his influences playlist below.

The Smiths, “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want”
A true classic. I grew up in a super religious home, so I wasn’t allowed to listen to a lot of music until I became an adult. This is one of those songs I’m thankful I had to wait for. It’s heartbreaking in the best way. The Smiths are perfect (obviously).

Modest Mouse, “Dramamine”
I saw somewhere that Isaac Brock was 17 when they made this album. I love this song. It’s a perfect representation of early-’90s alt rock being unabashedly raw and melancholic. Most of my guitar playing is me trying to emulate the sounds from it. Modest Mouse deserves every bit of praise they get. 

Ivy League TX, “Transparency”
I remember being a 15-year-old kid driving two hours to Midland, Texas to watch shows in small run-down DIY venues. Somehow, in those perfectly dingy spaces, I was lucky enough to see Ivy League grow into one of my all-time favorite bands. This record has aged like a fine wine.

Mankind Forever, “Rule the World”
Another deepcut here—I saw Mankind Forever live for the first time at a house show in one of their parents’ two-car garages. They opened with this song, and from the first down beat I was hooked. Angsty, atmospheric indie rock that was way ahead of its time. They became some of my close friends and I had the privilege to play shows all around Dallas with them. I’m still jealous of how talented these guys are.

Fontaines D.C., “Jackie Down the Line”
Let’s call this next batch of songs “British rock has a chokehold on Esteban.” “Jackie Down the Line” sounds like the lovechild of The Cure and (follow me here) Nirvana—it’s dark, fast, and melancholic. I fell in love as soon as I heard the bass chords. This song is on constant repeat. 

Oasis, “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” 
You can’t mention British rock without giving praise to Oasis. I love everything about this band. Most of my songs are just lesser versions of their hits. “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” encapsulates everything I love about British rock. It’s wide-reaching and heartbreaking. This is one of the best choruses I’ve ever heard. I wish I could have seen it live. Stop fighting and just get back together already, Gallaghers!

IDLES, “June” 
IDLES is the perfect band. This song is gut-wrenching. When I first heard it I had to pull over to the side of the road and just sit with it for a few listens. The way the famous six-word story (“Baby shoes for sale, never worn”) was woven into the song to describe such a difficult experience was incredibly impactful. 

Taking Back Sunday, “There’s No ‘I’ in Team” 
This was the soundtrack to any petty fight I had with my high school friends. A homie kissed the girl I had a crush on? “There’s No ‘I’ in Team.” Quit our terrible band to go out for the football team? “There’s No ‘I’ in Team.” Stopped kicking it with the crew because they had a new girlfriend? “There’s No ‘I’ in Team.” It’s the original emo diss track. 

Nirvana, “On a Plain” 
This list could be the entire Nevermind album and I’d be completely OK with it. All of my heavy guitar tones and song arrangements are inspired by this album. It’s a classic for a reason. Start with “On a Plain,” then just keep listening until you run out of albums. 

Kings of Leon, “Arizona”
Most people don’t believe me when I cite KoL as one of my biggest influences—especially their early brand of soulful garage-to-stadium rock. This song feels like you’re in a room watching your friends play the song that’s about to change their lives for the first time. Jared Followill is an incredibly underrated bass player. His melodic bass lines in this song elevate the entire arrangement from a good rock song to a classic. KoL forever.