This is a love letter to London, a place where I lived for a number of years. It’s highly subjective. I don’t want to showcase the best music from that particular place but to bring to life moments and impressions from that place on Earth. I arrived in LDN as a Frenchman and left to become an Aussie. Pourquoi pas?
It had been home for 7 years, and it was my love of music – and falling in love with my future wife – that brought me there.
This playlist tells the story of London as a metropolis that has welcomed immigrants and refugees for centuries, from French huguenots to Karl Marx – Lord Kitchener’s story is one of a West-Indian migrant making a new life there. There are two songs by Brazilian singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso who lived there in exile from the dictatorship. Same for Bob Marley, who made London his second home and struggled for a while before finding international fame.
I also always had a fascination for the ‘Swinging London’ of the 60s. If I could go back in time, this is the time and place I would choose. I would get a tailored suit, a mod haircut, a scooter, and go see the Yardbirds, Them, the Rolling Stones, or the Beatles in smoky nightclubs.
For me, London is a bassline and the influence of Jamaican music there is stronger than anywhere else in the world – outside of Kingston, of course. A lot of the music here is a testament to the ‘bass culture’ that Linton Kwesi Johnson wrote about.
London is also a city where you can feel lonely and lost. It’s a big, dark factory that grinds you in its bowels if you are not strong enough. It’s fast, merciless, and grey. Some of the songs here reflect the melancholy I have felt at times living there.
This noisy chaos, multiple cultures, eccentricity, rich history, incredible music scene and beauty, combined with a sense of danger that always keeps you on your toes, are what I love about London. It’s a place where you can get lost if you want, and reinvent yourself.