The Records That Made Me: Amelia Meath (Sylvan Esso)

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With The Records That Made Me, VF uncovers the vinyl releases that have influenced and shaped our favourite musicians, DJs and artists.

Singer, musician and Sylvan Esso and Mountain Man member Amelia Meath joins us to discuss the records that soundtracked her youth.

Read more: Claire Rousay on Pedro The Lion, Cecil Taylor, Olivia Block and more

“I think everybody’s music taste that they build when they’re in school has a direct connection to their musical output, no matter what they say,” Amelia explains.”Creativity is just the soup of all the art that we swam in when we were kids”.

Read on to learn more about Amelia’s favourite albums.

Nervus Rex

Nervus Rex


My father had a bunch of records when I was a kid, and one of them was by this very short-lived, strange, new-wave band from New York that played at CBGBs all the time, called Nervus Rex. When I was 12, I found their very limited run record and I became totally obsessed. It was the reason I got a record player because it was the only way that I could listen to Nervus Rex.

They have a really amazing song called “The Incredible Crawling” that I think about all the time. It’s basically like a disaster record about the world being taken over and that song is about a monster–it’s got a creature fear element to it I really love.

Lauryn Hill

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

(Ruffhouse Records)

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was the first record that I ever actually bought with my own money. Many people have talked about how brilliant this record is and I want to honour Miss Hill for everything that she’s done for music. Everyone should just keep her name out of their mouth unless they’re congratulating her on her brilliance. 

Animal Collective

Sung Tongs

(FatCat Records)

Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs was a formative independent release that inspired me when I was in high school. I know a lot of the members of that band now so it’s kind of embarrassing to talk about it but this record blew my mind and made me feel like I could make music in any way that I wanted to, particularly with the lyric writing, and the beautiful phrasing freedom that they gave themselves.

It feels like they all learned how to write songs together and are just basking in the silliness and joy of being able to bounce ideas off of each other. I remember my friend gave it to me on a burned CD, and the CD didn’t burn properly so the only song I could hear was “College” and it like made me sick. I loved it so much that I was so sad that I couldn’t hear the rest of the record and I left my house at 7pm on a school night to go to the record store and get the actual record so that it’d be able to hear it.

Willis Alan Ramsey

Willis Alan Ramsey


No one knows about this record anymore. He put out this one record in 1972 and then got trapped in the mire of sound, which sometimes happens to brilliant people. He could not make a sophomore effort, but the sonic lens, the landscape, and the songwriting on this record are just truly incredible.

I love his songs. I love how he has a pop sensibility that I think is just really inspiring. Also, who writes songs about muskrats? It’s a really weird thing to do. I love it. My dad always told me about this record and I’m not sure exactly how we got it, but somehow I got my paws on it and it completely changed my life.

Bonnie Raitt

Nick Of Time


Bonnie Raitt just won a Grammy which warms my heart. She’s an incredible songwriter and a great singer. Nick of Time is the defining sound of my childhood. When I was in my first band, Mountain Man, every night when we were driving home from gigs to the hotel we would put on Nick Of Time because it’s such a soothing and wonderful sound to me.

At this point, it’s an art piece that’s so close to my heart that it’s a part of me. I can’t even think about it with a critical eye other than to say the record is essentially me. I have a lot of personal feelings about it.

Le Tigre

Le Tigre

(Mr Lady)

Le Tigre was one of those wild amazing records I heard in the first week of high school and it made me feel like music could be anything that I wanted it to be. I was so deeply sad that I’d missed the riot grrrl train, because it was something that happened when I was in middle school and was still enamoured with Top 40 hip hop radio–shout out to Top 40 hip hop radio, so important, I will never stop listening, I love you.

I have the concept of a movement happening in Washington DC which was only down the coast from me in Massachusetts but I wasn’t old enough or hip enough to feel it. The fact Le Tigre happened, and that they existed and continue to exist–they actually just announced a tour–was so frickin’ cool. And the songs on this record are just so good.

“Ode to Bedroom Dancing” is amazing and “Decepticon” is a study of the type of touring I did when I was a little baby. I love the lyric “you bought a new van, the first year of your band”. It feels so fucking snide and I love it. I remember feeling that about other bands.

Check out Sylvan Esso’s most recent album No Rules Sandy which was recently released on vinyl.