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Baauer on the UK dance tracks that inspired his new album

As the LuckyMe producer drops his brand new Planet's Mad LP, he shares a few of the UK-born records that have inspired his distinctive sound.
Written by Dave Jenkins
7 min readPublished on
“I always feel like I’ve got at least one foot in the UK,” smiles Baauer over Skype. Of course this isn’t physically possible right now, but what the New York City-based producer is getting at is that his heart belongs to Britain -- in part because he spent some of his formative years in the UK, and in part because of the influence his music draws from genres cooked up right here in the British Isles.
"I moved to London when I was seven years old because of my dad’s job and stayed 'til I was 13,” explains the producer – real name Harry Rodrigues. “Those years were super informative and influential for me, just soaking up and digesting it. Listening to it on my headphones on the bus to school every day. Just mind blown. UK dance music culture had a huge effect on me from that moment on and always will."
Baauer, of course, broke worldwide off the back of the 2012 single Harlem Shake. The song went viral the following year as part of a popular internet meme and went on to become the first ever US No. 1 based purely on streaming numbers alone. Virality isn't necessarily the recipe for a long-lasting career. But Harlem Shake wasn't the end of Baauer's story. He found a home on the Glasgow-based label LuckyMe, where he released his debut LP, 2016's Aa, and which he's just followed up with brand new album Planet's Mad.
His most ambitious creative project to date, it's a highly conceptual body of work. Complemented by videos created by digital artist Rick Farin, each track creates its own world that harbours its own strange extra-terrestrial inhabitants. “I could take 12 tracks and call it a day, but why not use this opportunity to create a whole new world or even multiple worlds?” grins Rodrigues. “I wanted to get cinematic with it and I took a lot of inspiration from my favourite sci-fi movies like Fifth Element.”
Musically, meanwhile, Planet's Mad takes influence from a much wider menu. Over the 12 tracks he doffs his cap to a whole gamut of influences, from brash big beat to thumping tribal techno. In another artist’s hands, this could have resulted in a chaotic mess. But, thanks to his signature beats-and-bass swagger, the many influences and flavours are all held down by some immense and impressive drum work. “That’s what I’m best at,” he says. “I almost always start with the drums. That’s the bread and butter. Any music on top of that is a nice bonus.”
Watch Baauer's Planet's Mad film in the player below.
Red Bull asked Baauer to run down some of his favourite UK electronic tracks. Strap in as he runs down 10 of his favourites.

Chemical Brothers – Galvanize

“Just a shout to the Chemical Brothers in general, right? Galvanize was everything for me. It’s a seriously dope sample that’s flipped so creatively it blows my mind. It’s got some rap in there. The drums are so dope. It’s everything. And it wasn’t like anything they’d done before, which I love. That’s something I aspire to.”

Fatboy Slim – Drop The Hate

“I’ve picked Drop The Hate but could have picked a lot of other tracks he’s done. Fatboy Slim was a huge influence on me. Huge. His sample work was huge for me. The fact he doesn’t just work in one genre. Or any genre; you can’t put your thumb on what his music is, it’s just fun music, right? The whole spirit of his music and his approach has been a significant influence on me."

Basement Jaxx – Where’s Your Head At?

“These guys! They were on the radio a lot when I was growing up in the UK. I had no idea what you’d call their music, there was no context for tracks like Romeo for me as a kid. It was just this incredible music and I was a fan from then. So well crafted, super fun. It’s a bit goofy at times, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Not pretentious in any way. I absolutely love this.”

Simian Mobile Disco – Hustler

“This influence is a little later in my musical journey. They’re not so much sample-based, these guys are heavy into synths and modular stuff, but their sound and approach was massive for me. They always had great, hooky vocal top-lines. And what I found the most inspiring about this was how gritty and electronic it is but it’s still essentially a pop song. Simian Mobile Disco have always had a great ability to do things like that."

N.E.R.D – Hot n' Fun (Nero Remix)

“This is a Nero shoutout in general. Super widescreen, cinematic bass music. They kinda blew my mind when I first heard them. This in particularly was such a moment for me. They killed it around this time. Again, it had everything. That cinematic feel, the hip-hop, the bass, the drums. Just everything. Nero have been a massive influence on me.”

Slum Dogz – For All Time

“This was from that era of dubstep that just knocked me off my feet! Doctor P had a heavy hand in this and of course he was responsible for Sweet Shop. You know those songs that take you by surprise and just fuck you up? That. I can’t tell you how much tracks like that and this one inspired me.”

Rustie – After Light

“Rustie was responsible for a big turning point in my career. He played two of my songs in his Essential Mix and that was a real moment for me. But just in general Rustie totally changed the game. He’s a total genius. His album Glass Swords is a straight-up masterpiece. It’s perfect, it’s flawless -- the man created a full type of music right there. And now he’s totally stepped back. He had such an influence and he stuck to his guns.”

The Streets – Blinded By The Lights

“I wasn’t onto The Streets straight away, I have to say. It took me a few years to get wise to them and it was actually through the Nero remix that I got into them. That’s probably a bit of a weird way get into an act but I’ve been a massive fan ever since. I love how Mike Skinner produces, writes and raps on everything. Very inspirational.”

Baauer x AJ Tracey x Jae Stephens – 3AM

“I just want to shout out AJ Tracey here. I actually wanted to include this cheeky unreleased thing called Motorola -- fingers crossed that will see the light of day -- but just mad love for AJ anyway. We worked together a while ago in LA and have worked a few times since and he’s just awesome. We’ve done a bunch of tunes but 3AM is the one that’s come out so far and I was so grateful it has. The reception has been crazy to that. AJ just keeps on skyrocketing. I’m so proud of things we’ve done.”

Randomer & Fife – Too Many Times

“So this would be the most recent influence on me. I love this so much I sampled Randomer on my new record. I picked this track because of the drums. The drums, for me, are the base of the album. They’re the base of everything for me. This record has been around for a while now, someone recommended it while I was writing my album and it was like ‘woah!’ I love it when that happens. Randomer and Fife, this is a massive shout out!”
Now watch Baauer: Searching For The Next Harlem Shake on Red Bull TV.
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