Last week I wrote about what I consider one of the best triple-headers of a billing Bottom of the Hill has had this year. The most valuable player of a lineup holding heavy-hitters Colleen Green and Pity Sex is actually the most soft-spoken of the three; Eskimeaux is the songwriting/production project of Brooklyn’s Gabrielle Smith, one of the most warm, calming, and absolutely devastating voices to come within my musical radar since I first began to obsessively stick my face into speakers and record sleeves. Smith’s latest release, this summer’s O.K., is one of my favorite albums of 2015, a bedroom pop record that bursts with colors that could reach the ends of stadiums, yet never feels further than a few inches from your heart. The lyrics that flow out of O.K. have repeatedly and on different occasions guided me through the narrative of my own emotions — personal threads have tied me in allegiance with this album, but I can’t imagine my experience is isolated.

I saw Eskimeaux at another exceptional Bottom of the Hill show this past summer, where Smith and her band opened for Mitski and Elvis Depressedly on their joint tour. The former was raw and shook the stage with bare emotion packaged in distortion; meanwhile the latter was guttural and mistook volume for impact. Eskimeaux’s set was something altogether removed from the other two, and took the form of a continuous roar, intimidating in its confidence but inviting in its honesty. As that tour traveled the country, friends in Washington D.C. and Nashville walked away from her performances echoing my sentiments, all of us recognizing the singularity that was Smith’s voice. In anticipation of her second appearance in the Bay in six months, I reached out to learn about the songs that hold significant meaning for her — what has brought tears to her eyes, kept her on her feet, and inspired her to write her own music. Check out what she chose below, and discover the songs that might be on your own personal list this Saturday when you see her perform them for you in person.

A song that inspired you to write your own music:

Money by Thanksgiving

“This might be the most influential song in my career as a songwriter. Whether it is conscious or not, I always try to emulate the emotions this song conveys to me (and hope my songs do the same for people listening to them). Adrian Orange also taught me that one doesn’t have to be the best singer to sing a song the best.”

A song that literally brought tears to your eyes:

Do I Wanna Wonder Forever by Frankie Cosmos

“Every time I hear this song I get choked up. There was one time I was singing in Frankie Cosmos and Greta started playing this song – I had to inch off stage to compose myself because I needed to be ready to sing the next song. I actually wrote amy own song about that moment – the lyrics are “And whenever you ask ‘What’s appropriate?’ / I get all choked up and lose it.” Greta has written a lot of songs that literally brought tears to my eyes so the answer to this question could actually be a list, but this one gets to me consistently.”

A song that fills you with childhood nostalgia:

The Sign by Ace of Base

“When I was little we didn’t have very many CDs in my house that I liked, but I remember listening to Happy Nation by Ace of Base very often. The most vivid memory of listening to this record was when I was pretty young, maybe eight years old. We put on this album and my whole family, including a bunch of my cousins, had a big dance party in my living room. It’s been a family favorite ever since. We have this record in the Eskimeaux minivan now, so we listen and sing to The Sign a lot.”

A song to keep you warm in the cold:

Cocoon by Bjork

“I generally hate the winter, but getting to walk around in the cold listening to Bjork’s Vespertine is a treat that I look forward to every year. It’s kind of a ceremonious moment to get to load up whatever device I’m listening to music on with all of my winter albums. It means it has truly become winter for me.”

A song you desperately want to see performed live but haven’t: 

Hyperballad by Bjork

“Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh there aren’t any words.”

A song to drift off to sleep to:

Warszawa by David Bowie

“When I was in high school I made a lot of sleep-time playlists. Often, they started with the instrumental pieces from Low, had a couple of songs from the Sigur Ros album “( )”, and then ended with a track by Riceboy Sleeps. Usually these playlists didn’t work; I would lay awake listening intently until the Riceboy Sleeps track came on and then I would finally relax.”

A song for dancing unrestrained by yourself:

Spending All My Time by Perfume

“This song can make any car ride dangerous if I’m driving hehe.”

Pity Sex, Colleen Green, Eskimeaux
Bottom of the Hill
December 19, 2015
$13 Advance/$15 Door, 9 PM