Inspiration is often a tricky thing to pinpoint—most artists seem to have a hard time connecting their work to the specific influences rattling around their brains at the time of the project’s conception. This wasn’t the case for Cola Boyy, though, when putting together his first full-length collection of disco-fuelled electro-pop tracks, Prosthetic Boombox. He can—and does, below—tell you exactly what various and disparate sounds were cited in each of the new LP’s 10 tracks as if he was submitting a senior thesis.
And it’s fairly easy to fact-check his work—when you think about it, the unbridled ray of sunshine that is lead single “Don’t Forget Your Neighborhood” feels a lot like the intersection of the beach-side pop of Brian Wilson, the smooth pop-funk of Estelle’s “American Boy,” and the primetime friendliness of the Cheers theme. Other surprising references, from S Club 7 to War, make immediate sense once you hear the creative ways Matthew Urango is able to incorporate them into his own tight disco-funk repertoire.
As a preview of the new record, dropping this Friday via Record Makers and MGMT Records, you can listen to his full playlist of influences below, and read on to see which of his own tracks he attributes them to. You can also pre-order the record here.
1. “Don’t Forget Your Neighborhood”
Beach Boys, “Disney Girls”
Gary Portnoy, “Cheers Theme”
Estelle, “American Boy”
These three tracks thrown into a blender.
Peter Gabriel, “Sledgehammer”
“Sledgehammer” is one of my favorite songs ever! Every time it comes on the radio I blast it. When John Carrol Kirby sent me the instrumental to “Mailbox” it immediately reminded me of “Sledgehammer,” so I fell in line with the vocal melody. Can you hear it?
3. “Song for the Mister”
Harry Nilsson, “Life Line”
Sade, “Cherish the Day”
Candy Flip, “Strawberry Fields Forever”
Another instance where I blended two super different favorites into one when writing the song. Nicolas Godin of Air produced the track, and he flooded it out with even more Sade vibes. There’s a choir-like sound to the song as well. Let’s throw Candy Flip in there for good measure.
Blur, “London Loves”
With the vocals on the verse of “Roses,” I did this sort of faint Blur style of singing. It’s very subtle. Early on in the Cola Boyy project I was listening to a ton of Blur. There’s a few old demos that sound super influenced by them. There’s a tinge of it here and there if you listen close enough!
5. “For the Last Time”
Harry Nilsson, “Are You Sleeping?”
Kanye West, “Heartless”
I quite literally sat down at my keyboard and thought, “I want to write a song that mixes together Kanye West and Harry Nilsson.” It was like a challenge for myself, to pull it off without sounding cheesy.
6. “You Can Do It”
Sahara All Stars of Jos, “Take Your Soul”
I was listening to this dope African funk compilation at the time, and studying a lot of the bass lines from it. “Take Your Soul” is the first track from the compilation. The demo for “You Can Do It” was just a James Brown drum loop, and synth bass doing the half-baked Nigerian funk sounding bass line you hear on the album version.
S Club 7, “S Club Party”
Mixing pop and hip-hop together. Call-and-response vocals with your homies joining in at the studio!
8. “One of These Winters Will Take Me”
War, “Where Was You At?”
I don’t remember what I was channeling when I wrote this song. But the production on the record sounds like the soundtrack to a Vietnam War movie.
9. “Go the Mile”
Paul McCartney & Wings, “Venus & Mars”
Bill Withers, “Ain’t No Sunshine”
Sports arena lyrics were inspired by this Wings song. Flipped it on its head by talking about hopelessly daydreaming of fame, while Paul was literally playing in sports arenas when he wrote this song. “Go the Mile” was produced by Infinite Bisous, and I feel like the bassline he laid down is a slightly modernized version of one you would hear in a Bill Withers song.
10. “Kid Born In Space”
What more can be said about this song? Let my boy pick up the acoustic and try a lil’ something though.