Literary influences explored...
Elliott Power

Elliott Power is part of a new wave of talent tied to the rejuvenated Mo'wax imprint.

A highly literate songwriting from London's western environs, his blue-eyed soul delivery comes draped in trip hop style production.

New album 'Once Smitten' is a treat - out this Friday (February 26th), it's a work of real depth, the subtle emotional edge matched to some gorgeous melodic flourishes.

Clash needed to investigate further - and what better place to start than Elliott Power's bookshelf.

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What is your favourite book and why?
My favourite book is probably Concrete Island by J.G. Ballard. Throughout my life I have always been attracted to dystopia and darkness, My dad showed me the Manga Film Akira when I was three, I remember watching Blade Runner around the age of five and my parents listened to stuff like Goldie and Portishead. Ballard's Concrete Island is actually set in West London where I grew up and still live, between The Westway and the M4 Motorway, I actually live right next to the M4 so this brutalist structure has always been apart of my life.

I roam the same bleak West London streets and feel the same hostilely that the protagonist Robert Maitland in Ballard's Concrete Island feels, as book unfolds.

What other authors do you like?
Other authors I like are George Orwell, Ayn Rand and Philip K. Dick again like J.G. Ballard all very dystopian. I've never been deep into politics or philosophy but i've also been fascinated by the idea of Totalitarianism, power, greed and destruction. I think all the authors I like explore those ideas in their writing.

What draws you to certain books?
I usually watch the film adaptation of a book before I read the book. So I go back start reading the book, but because I know whats about to happen I generally lose interest, it's a vicious cycle. Like records I don't know, sometimes I buy books blindly based on how the cover looks, my hit rate is about 50%. Juvenile I know, but sometimes fun.

Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
I think it's quite apparent that literary figures like J.G. Ballard for example are very evident in my songwriting, I often borrow and rework from writers, it's like a form of sampling for me. 'The Song Built On Greed' from my debut album is loosely based on Blade Runner therefore by default a reference To Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep.

What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I'm reading a proto-science fiction book called Tomorrow's Eve, this book coined the term 'android'. The film Ghost In The Shell 2 opens with a quote from the book: "If our gods and hopes are nothing but scientific phenomena, then it must be said that our love is scientific as well." That quote is the reason I purchased the book - so far, so good.

What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
I remember the book Stig Of The Dump being one of the first things I read. I think I got it as a Christmas gift from an Uncle or someone. I remember the edition I had Stig looked like Mowgli from Jungle book, I also looked like Mowgli from Jungle Book at the time, also the random time travel is never explained in the book, that always baffled me.

Did you make good use of your library card as a child / teenager?
When I was a child I was more interested in playing football and being outside than reading, as a teen I was interested in clothes, music and girls, I only started reading regularly during A Levels, which then carried on through university and now the current day.

Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn’t finish?
I remember whilst I was studying Photography and Art History at University I had to read Roland Bathes book Camera Lucida it's short but it's full of highfalutin philosophy stuff, I put it down quickly, the book wound be up more than anything.

Do you read book reviews?
I have never been one for reviews generally, especially not book reviews. I'd rather have my own opinion on a book.

Would you ever re-read the same book?
I've never been into the idea of reading the same book twice, I like to live with memory of the first, one and only experience of a book.

Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?
A Character from a book I can identify with is Howard Roark from the book The Fountainhead, he is trying to change attitudes with his work, make people move on from traditional boring stagnant ideals. It's a struggle for Howard. It's how I feel about my work in a way, that sort of constant tipping scale of art vs commerce and trying to convince the powers that be, that what I do is worthwhile, although many doors have been slammed in my face, hopefully my persistence will pay off?

Do you read one book at a time or more than one?
I don't get to read as much as I'd like to, so I barely manage one book at a time these days, let alone two.

Is there an author / poet you would like to collaborate with?
If I could collaborate with any author or poet it would probably be Leonard Cohen, because he almost paints with his writing it's always very descriptive, but in the simplest way possible. The way I write is definitely influenced by Cohen, there is always something tactile there.

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'Once Smitten' is out on February 26th.

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