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“We had to do work experience as kids – you go find a local company that’ll let you work for free for a week. One place where I worked for a few days was at a radio station; it was Top 40 pop, but there were almost no DJs – the music had all been put on computer. It’s like they recorded a bunch of links, and the computer did all the rest. This wasn’t very eye-opening, actually, as far as music’s concerned.
“The other place I worked at was a library that had a music section – you could take out a record like you would a book. Because I didn’t have much music as a teenager, this was a great way to experiment with music. The one record I remember as being formative to me during this time was Stevie Wonder’s Where I’m Coming From – not one of Stevie’s more obvious albums, but because library didn’t have a really thorough collection, you’d wind up with these weird little offshoots of people’s catalogues.
“This is one of Stevie’s more explicitly political albums; it came out in 1971 and had the Vietnam war as a sort of backdrop. It’s him finding his way to that voice that he finally gets to on Innervisions and those classic ‘70s albums. Something about the record really struck me, and it opened up for me this whole world of R&B and funk.
“I remember Ricky and I were having a discussion once about musicians who can impact the heart, the hips and the head. There aren’t many who can do that – maybe Prince sometimes. Stevie is one of those people who, when he’s at his best, you want to dance to it, but it also has some meat to it as well. For a while I went down this funk road, and I listened to Bill Withers and Parliament or whatever, and that fed into my DJing at parties. But this Stevie album led the way.”