At the beach, the New Zealander asks me, What are your musical influences? I am someone who has just been dropped in a tall well, and coming up for air, finds herself speechless. Influences? I guess I don’t have any. Then I muster a tepid, Bjork? receiving a nod of encouragement. I rack my brain. Kristin Hersch, from Throwing Muses? Her name doesn’t ring a bell for him, nor does the slow trickle of names that take leave of my brain. All those 4AD bands – Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, all that dreamy and gothic stuff I go nuts for. In an attempt at solidarity he suggests, The Cure? Sure, but I’m on to more obscure bands – The Raincoats, for instance. When I mention their Englishness, he starts listing English bands – Radiohead, David Bowie. Yeah, I guess I’m into female voices. Like PJ Harvey, her ability to continually transform herself. Like Bowie, but more significant to me because of her femaleness. Amy Winehouse. I like female artists that stand on their own, that don’t fit into a category because they are a category onto themselves.
I head to my bicycle, then while I twist the combination lock, it hits me. My favorite album of all time, written by a 16 year old New Zealander, Heroine by Lorde. I rush back to the beach to share this parcel, this newly gleaned insight! He’s never heard the record, I gush over it, her lyricism, the coming-of-age perceptive, which lives in me, how Lorde taps into that specific ageless female experience. He struggles to come up with another famous New Zealander. Crowded House? No, it’s Lorde and Lorde alone. He says he’ll listen to the album when he gets home. I pedal away filled with the pantheon of my influences jostling for stage time in my sun-drenched, grateful brain.