If you don’t hear the Michael Buble influence on the new Gorillaz album, maybe you’re not listening hard enough.
The band is one of a slew of artists (including 2 Chainz, Big Sean, Halsey and Lil’ Yachty) teaming up with Pandora for their new Sounds Like You campaign, which celebrates the music that inspired your favorite music with artist-curated playlists director Michel Gondry gives you a taste of what it’s like to be running the show with POV shorts. The whole thing is kicking off Pandora Premium, the previously invite-only service that is now available to all humans.
In a virtual Q&A (because, you know, they’re cartoons) debuting on Mashable, 2D, Murdoc, Russel, and Noodle clue you in on everything to listen for on their forthcoming album, Humanz, including “Wheels on the Bus” and the unspeakable things one might do to a succulent.
What artists, albums or songs past or present have most inspired you as an artist?
2D: I’m actually a big Michael Buble fan. He—
Murdoc: You know which artist has inspired me the most? Me. The only downside is I’m only one man. If there was some way I could clone myself, I’d be fucking amazing to collaborate with. I’ve actually got a team of eggheads working on it as we speak.
Russel: Gotta give props to Biggie, ODB & MC Lyte. Keepin’ it real for Brooklyn.
When you think about your unique sounds, how would you describe what you sound like?
Russel: The Humanz groove is a new direction for us in the studio, coming courtesy of the 909, that funky, mind-bending Chicago sound. That little box should be called the ‘999’, for funk emergencies. Having Jamie Principle, crown prince of Chicago House on the record sure helps, too.
Noodle: Gorillaz is a fusion of personalities, styles, and viewpoints from the margins of the musical cosmos. I think our sound is unique because we have no ‘sound’, exactly.
Murdoc: Bang on, Noodle. One of the things that makes us unique – apart from my incomparable genius and record-shattering genitalia – is the way we work with collaborators. It constantly forces you out of your comfort zone. The day you can pigeonhole Gorillaz is the day I fill my pockets with stones and walk into the sea.
The world of music is vast and never-ending. What have you recently discovered that excites you?
Noodle: Electronic music made in Italy between 1979 and ’82. It sounds like aliens might have been involved, masquerading as producers and trying to communicate with us through dreamlike, danceable tunes.
Murdoc: Mongolian throat-singing. It’s a guttural, ball-shrinkingly terrifying sound. Fuck knows how they train for it. Probably by gargling sand or fellating a cactus. Might get 2D trained up for our next album.
2D: Couldn’t we just use a voice-changer?
Murdoc: Not the same, mate. We’re all about authenticity.
The first time you discovered a song that changed your life, how did it make you feel? What song was it?
Noodle: “O Superman,” by Laurie Anderson. It’s from the early 80s, but I heard it much later and even then it sounded like it was from the future. It made me feel like there are no boundaries in art, only truth.
Murdoc: “Wheels on the Bus.” First song I ever performed live, aged 6 in the Three Legged Dog pub in Stoke-on-Trent. Taught me my first lessons about song-writing: find a hook, repeat, and keep it simple.
How has it inspired you? How has it shaped your career and put you on the path that lead you here?
Noodle: It inspired me by showing how pop music can be performance art, story-telling, humor, and dejection, all in one other-worldly package. But I don’t think it shaped me, exactly. It’s just one drop of water in the lake of my soul.
Murdoc: Before I heard that song I was going off the rails. Spending all my pocket money on sherbet fountains and dip-daps, jazzed off my swede most of the time. So that tune literally saved my life. Without it, there would be no Gorillaz, and right now I’d most likely be in a skip, covered in my own filth. Incidentally, that’s where I was yesterday, but it was a top night out, so doesn’t count.
Please talk about your connection to that artist and song now or share a story an interaction later in your career.
Noodle: I’ve never met Laurie Anderson, but I added her to my “kick-ass women” playlist recently. It’s cool to think I can help to introduce timeless artists like her to a new audience.
Having worked so hard on getting your music out to the world, describe how it feels to connect with new fans who have recently discovered you?
Russel: We make music because we’re humans and want to connect with each other, it’s the most natural thing in the world. But success isn’t measured in downloads or plays. It’s measured in minds freed. We’re just doing our thing. People like it, we’ll keep doing it.
2D: It’s great to connect with fans, though sometimes it can get weird. Like when they ask you to breath in a jar so they can sell it on Ebay. If I did that for everyone, I’d have no breath left for other stuff, like hot food or balloon animals.