Soundtrack: Nicolas Godin (Air)

Nicolas Godin, one half of downtempo French band Air, writes about the iconic Stevie Wonder album that influenced his career, exclusively for PORT

Image courtesy of Motown Records
Image courtesy of Motown Records

Many albums are in my pantheon of legendary music. One of them is Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life

It sums up all the things I like about music because it sounds like the best of all worlds, combined. There are the melodies, solid songwriting, the groove that I love in soul records, his amazing voice, etc. But on the top of this is the production. Stevie Wonder uses electronic synthetisers in such a warm and experimental way, which really made me think that machines can sound both soulful and sentimental.

At the beginning of my career, before I decided to record using vocoders and Moogs, I instinctively associated machines with the robot world. I admired Kraftwerk so much at the time but, inside of me, I wanted to make a sensual record, so I gave up the industrial-shaped sounds… I started to buy new equipment by looking at the back of Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock record covers, because everything they used was listed on there.

I think that hip hop and R&B records are the most avant-garde forms of electronic music that you can find – they are much more adventurous than any so-called ‘electronic’ records that I hear these days. If I want to hear highly experimental music made with computers and samplers, I always turn to the production of R&B artists. And I think Stevie Wonder is the one who started this phenomenon.

Nicolas Godin’s new solo album, Contrepoint, is out now on Because Music