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Leytonstone-born singer-songwriter Murkage Dave has music coursing through his veins. Having started out as a DJ and club-runner operating within London’s thriving underground music scene, David Lewis upped sticks and left the capital for Manchester, immersing himself in the sounds of Joy Division and The Smiths while earning his honorary Manc status in the process. While Dave cut his teeth promoting raves and bridging the culture gap between London and his second home in the north, he always had one eye set on paving his own path as an artist.
After returning to London, Lewis’ debut album ‘Murkage Dave Saved My Life’ dropped in 2018, breaking new ground in both British pop and Black British identity. Earlier this month, Murkage Dave shared his latest single ‘Us Lot’, a pivotal track thats pays homage to perfectly imperfect friendships. Speaking about the track, Dave says: “‘Us Lot’ is a love song for every misunderstood friend, every black sheep, every prodigal child. I’d like to think I’ve written it for a few people I’m close to but maybe it’s just a letter to myself, I haven’t fully worked it out yet.”
Inspired by the lyric “ghost if you want” from his new cut, we sat down with the East Londoner to discuss his 10 favourite tracks about ghosting. From relationship problems to ghosts in the more literal sense, this list recounts some of the artist’s big influences over the years.
1. *NSYNC – ‘Gone’
“*NSYNC had hella slaps but ‘Gone’ has to be up there as one of my faves. One thing I love to see creatively is commitment, and they fully leaned into the drama with ballad-esque guitars and strings plus a very tekkers vocal arrangement, kept in time with a beatbox metronome and at one point even a ticking clock. A true epic which ushered Justin Timberlake into his full tilt black phase effortlessly.”
2. Daniel Hart – ‘Safe Safe Safe’
“One of my favourite pieces of music, which soundtracks the emotional final scene of ‘A Ghost Story’, a film which has influenced me in many different ways lately.”
3. Kanye West – ‘Ghost Town’
“People often say they don’t rate the ‘Ye’ album, but it gave us the song ‘Ghost Town’ which for me is a masterpiece. I love the lyrics which Kid Cudi yearningly pushes out ‘I’ve been trying to make you love me, but everything I try just takes you further from me’. My mate Patrick put me onto ‘Take Me For A Little While’ by The Royal Jesters, which is where they pulled the hook and the sample from.”
4. Murkage Dave – ‘Us Lot’
“Love songs are a thing. There are millions of songs about romantic love but hardly any about friendship. Even though, invariably, many of our platonic friendships outlast our romantic ones. So I wanted to readdress the balance with a message for every black sheep of every family and every misunderstood friend ‘Ghost if you want, think I give a fuck. You’re still loved, whether you like it or not'”.
5. Janet Jackson – ‘Got Til It’s Gone’
“‘The Velvet Rope’ album was such an important part of my musical development, I didn’t know it at the time but she was teaching me how to thread together things from so many different worlds without ever thinking it was weird. Sampling ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ over a J Dilla inspired beat sets the foundation for the perfect pop song as Janet & Q-Tip effortlessly trade melodies and mumblings about loss.”
6. Prince – ‘How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore’
“I’ll be honest I heard the Alicia Keys cover first and then discovered the Prince original. Originally a B-side to the smash hit ‘1999’, it’s tender and it’s raw and I love it.”
7. Jagged Edge – ‘Heartbreak’
“The ultimate album intro and I will fight anyone who feels different. Every R&B fan on the planet loves this piece of music. The piano part, the longing, the melodrama, don’t chat to me.”
8. Phoebe Bridgers – ‘I Know the End’
“I’m a deep Phoebe Bridgers stan, my girlfriend thinks it’s quite weird. Phoebe was on this whole ghost wave during her ‘Motion Sickness’ era but I’d say this one which closes up the ‘Punisher’ album goes the hardest. “A haunted house with a picket fence, to float around and ghost my friends. No I’m not afraid to disappear, the billboard said ‘The End Is Near'” weaves the record into one of the wildest beat switches ever, what a way to go out.”
9. Boyz II Men – ‘Yesterday’
“Look man I’m not a Beatles hater, but let’s be real Boyz II Men came with more sauce. It’s a great song regardless but this a cappella arrangement is the go-to version when you really want to get deep into your sad bag.”
10. The Police – ‘The Bed’s Too Big Without You’
“A top tier white boy reggae anthem. I fucking love The Police man. Sting is one of my biggest song-writing influences. There. I said it. Been meaning to get that off my chest for a while.”
Stream Murkage Dave’s ‘Us Lot’ below and purchase his ghost merch here.