Everyone has that a piece of music or artist that changed their lives forever. However, what about artists in our community? We’ve followed them through their musical rises, seen them solidified in the Champaign-Urbana music scene, and we’ve enjoyed every second of the journey. Now, we get a chance to understand their take on those artists that impacted their artistry and made them into the people they are today.
When asked this question, I always feel like I have to mention the Red Hot Chili Peppers – they’ve been my favorite band since I was ten and were, for all intents and purposes, my gateway drug into music. However, in this case, I feel the need to talk about Elliott Smith, who shone a new light on music for me. The depth in his lyrics and storytelling was unlike anything I had encountered before and was the first artist whose music spoke to me as profoundly as it did. Coupled with his often-overlooked skills as a guitarist, I was absolutely captivated by what he created. I fell in love with him when I was fifteen; now, almost ten years later, having a more mature relationship with the world around me, the depth of his music strikes me more than ever, and I don’t see that changing.
- Anka Radley of The Dawn Patrol
Circle Takes The Square. This band both sonically and lyrically speaks to me in a way no other band does. Truly, a one of a kind sound, aesthetic, and beautifully written lyrics which fuse eco motifs with esoteric topics such as magic and ritual. They convey the human condition in a way that displays the beauty and chaos of our species existence. That ultimately, we all return to the earth… it’s just a matter of when and how…
- J.A. of Staghorn
Recently I’ve been really inspired by Jay Som since she records everything herself. It’s super inspiring to see a successful multi-instrumentalist who also produces music, and that makes me want to learn a ton of instruments too!”
- Zoe Willcott of Zzo
I’m definitely a songwriter and musician who’s inspired by a lot of artists, and the ones who have heavily and consistently had a positive impact on my lyric writing, musical choices, and confidence in being more experimental are The Beatles, Brian Eno, Radiohead, Andrew Bird, David Bowie, and Tame Impala. Over the last 20 years, I’ve found myself needing inspiration and encouragement either to get started on an idea or to work through writer’s block. Sometimes that has come from my bandmates or musician friends. But a lot of the time it just takes putting on one of my favorite records from one of these artists and I’m able to find a little nugget of creative energy that gets me moving again. That’s definitely why I love being a musician, both artistically and as a career: it’s challenging, fulfilling, and requires that I keep learning, expanding my creative brain, and being open to any new idea.
- Ryan Groff of Elsinore
In the beginning stages of the band, the original members were inspired by popular Filipino pop/rock/folk artists as well as American pop/rock artists. I can’t say that we have any specific artist who inspires us as a band, but we do enjoy performing various music genres, particularly songs from the 60s and onward. We love the classic oldies hits as well as the current Top 40 hits. We currently perform covers, but we’re hoping to dive into writing our own original songs as well. But beyond artistic influences, our families, musical passions, and the need for self-expression are all that really inspire us to create music.
- Allyson Magno of Kalesa
Animal Collective! They broke every rule I had in my head about what music could be, taking the ethereal production sounds generally relegated to the background and smashing them together like atoms in the fore.
- Warm Darn, singer-songwriter
I think one of the first artists who inspired me to make music was Lorde. I started listening to her in high school and always felt like her lyrics were honest and intricate regarding emotions. My music is all based on my real emotions and real things that happened to me, and I feel like being exposed to that style at the beginning of my songwriting career was very important for me.
- Anika Emily, singer-songwriter
We are inspired by any artist who can stretch the boundaries of creativity, regardless of genre. Some artists that come to mind for us are Bob Marley, Gene Ammons, Black Sabbath, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. They all, in some way, have changed the idea of what is possible in music.
- The Data Waves