Having effortlessly moved from opera to psychedelia with Cat's Eyes - her joint band with The Horrors' Faris Badwan - singer Rachel Zeffira is set to step out again, this time on her own with solo album The Deserters, which is out on 10 December. To mark the release, she's made us a Playlist that celebrates her own humble "small town" beginnings. "I grew up in a small, isolated town in Canada of about 7000 people and have always been curious about other musicians who left their small towns to pursue music," she explains. "Here is a list of songs from some of my favourite artists who also grew-up in small towns."
Giorgio Moroder - I Feel Love The "Father of Disco" came from a small Latin-speaking Northern Italian town called Urtijëi (population 4,637) near to where my father was born. My favourite song of his is probably "I Feel Love". It puts me in a good mood as soon as it starts and I never get sick of hearing it.
Chet Baker - I Get Along Without You Very Well I listen to Chet Baker all the time. I like his trumpet playing and his androgynous sounding voice. He left his small town of Yale, Oklahoma (population 1227) and ended up in jail or in trouble everywhere he went. His life was a mess but his voice was always serene.
Nina Simone - Tomorrow Is My Turn Nina Simone grew up in Tryon, North Carolina (population 1646) and wanted to be a classical pianist. She left home after winning a scholarship to The Juilliard School of Music. Her voice is powerful and fragile at the same time.
Dolly Parton - Jolene Dolly Parton wrote over 3000 songs, a lot of them inspired by her upbringing in the small town of Sevierville, Tennessee (population 14,807). I like the storytelling in her songs, you can get such a clear idea of how and where she grew up. I like the songs based on her mountain town but my favourite song of hers is Jolene.
Nick Drake - From The Morning He started recording his own songs at a young age in his family sitting room in Tanworth-In-Arden, (population 3017), and moved back home in his 20s because he claimed it was the only place he found bearable. Itʼs hard for me to choose my favourite song of his but for this list Iʼll pick From The Morning.
NB Into My Arms currently unavailable
James Brown - I Feel Good James Brown grew up in his auntʼs brothel in Barnwell, South Carolina (4750), and taught himself how to play harmonica, guitar, piano and drums. I love watching clips of him performing and my favourite song of his is I Feel Good.
Arvo Pärt - Speigel Im Spiegel Arvo Pärt grew up in Paide, Estonia (population 8868) and during that time he had little contact with any musical influences from outside the Soviet Union which probably lead to him developing his own minimalist style.
Béla Bartók - Music For Strings Percussion And Celesta One of my favourite pieces by Bartók is the adagio from Music For Strings, Percussion And Celesta". It was used so brilliantly in The Shining. He grew up in Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary (13, 292)."
Nick Cave - Into My Arms Nick Cave apparently hated the small town attitudes he came across in Warracknabeal, Australia (population 2,490). He regularly got into trouble and was eventually sent to boarding school in Melbourne, where he sang in the school choir and learned to play piano.
KD Lang - Wash Me Clean When I was still a kid in the Kootenays, Canada, I heard about how KD Lang practically got disowned by her tiny hometown of Consort, Alberta (population 689, mostly farmers) after she took part in a Meat Stinks campaign. For years, the Consort, Alberta welcome sign which had boasted "Home of KD Lang" was constantly graffitied with "Eat beef, dyke" until they finally had to remove her name from the sign.
For more head to Facebook.com/rachelzeffira, plus here's a new track from Rachel.