We’re here for another edition of First, Last, and Favorite, our kind of regular column that lets us pick the brains of our favorite Northwestern musicians about the sounds that formed them. This round we get to learn a little more about Navvi!
Navvi are a Seattle based duo consisting of vocalist Kristin Henry and producer Brad Boettger; we first heard them on their excellent full-length debut, Omni, from 2016. They were making exceptionally stylish and spare electronic pop music with a decidedly minor-key bend. It was perfect nocturnal Northwestern listening. Ultra, their second album, is out this week, and what we’ve heard so far is excellent. We can hear elements of a lot of our favorite music here: the sultry moods of classic Sade, crisp vintage synth tones reminiscent of the 80s dancefloor, and a distinctly modern aloof electronic cool, all of it swirled up into a new vessel. Take a listen:
Both members were kind enough to share some thoughts on the records that put them on the path to making music as Navvi. We get tales of having your lid flipped by a couple Atliens, to being won over by Corgan and company a little later in life. Enjoy Navvi’a first, last and favorite:
Kristin: Madonna Like A Virgin
I grew up in a conservative home, and up until I was like 8 my exposure to music was limited to worship songs + hymns on cassette .. so the first time my dad played this record on our living room stereo, nine year old me was shook. I had never heard anything like it. I remember ‘Material Girl’ staying in my head for days. It was just really cool to learn that my dad was into Madonna when he was younger - it felt like a secret. I think this is when I started to really fall in love with music. My dad must have known how much I liked this record because he bought another Pure 80s compilation on CD to play around the house. A couple of years ago, my parents actually bought me the huge Madonna box set for my birthday which I thought was cute.
Brad: outKast atliens
This was the first record I ever fully lived in and knew by heart as a kid. Almost all of it was over my head at the time but the production and the personalities had a depth and a mystery to them that drew me in. The comic book style cover, the solo at the end of ‘wheelz of steel’, the dungeon family, it was all so rad and felt like a world. It was the first time I remember feeling like a record was mine.
Kristin: Smashing pumpkins adore
I’m late to the Pumpkins game. I guess I just heard them so many times on the radio when I was growing up that I formed this unfair aversion to them. I finally gave them a fair shot earlier this summer and ended up bingeing their entire discography in like three days. My friends are making me eat my words because literally every record is so good, but Adore is the one that just clicked for me. It’s become my new go-to record. I pay close attention to sequencing, and ‘Ava Adore’ is the perfect Track 2. All of the melodies are perfect. ‘Perfect’ is perfect. I can respect Billy Corgan’s dedication to his craft. I can appreciate how he’s not afraid to indulge. I saw them play at the Key Arena in August and he had some incredible outfit changes. So yeah, I’m a new Pumpkins fan.
Brad: Marvin Gaye What’s Going On
I’ve come back to this one a lot over the years and recently I’ve been giving it some run again. I’ve got a fascination with him, with how varied and tumultuous his career was. The rhythm section is masterful. The vocals are recorded and performed in a way that disarms me. He’s a virtuoso but he’s not singing at you, he’s talking to you.
Kristin: Radiohead In Rainbows
What can I say about this record that hasn’t already been said? It’s flawless in every way. Radiohead is the prototype band. I wouldn’t be doing what I do now if this record didn’t exist. I still watch the Live From The Basement sessions when I need realigning.
Brad: Nine Inch NAils The Fragile
The Fragile is a masterclass as to how big and small an album can be at the same time. The accompanying 'And All That Could Have Been' DVD was my introduction to what a live show could do. It's widescreen thinking with finesse. What can I say? He’s the goat. All hail.