Soundtrack Of My Life – Example On Kurt Cobain’s Unbeatable Songwriting and The Streets’ Accessibility

Rapper-turned-singer-songwriter Example discusses the most influential music in his life

The first song I remember hearing
Pavarotti singing Puccini’s ‘Nessun Dorma’
“My dad had a good vinyl collection and was very proud of his one Technics 210 deck. He had a load of Motown, Kinks, David Bowie, The Stones and a Pavarotti record. He would put on ‘Nessun Dorma’ at really high volume while he was vacuuming. Every time I hear it now, I still think of it as ‘The Vacuuming Song’.”

The band that made me want to make music
The Streets
“Growing up, I never wanted to be a rapper or a singer or make music. Then I heard The Streets. ‘Original Pirate Material’ was so unique. ‘This guy isn’t from a typical rap background,’ I thought. ‘He’s just talking about stuff that I understand. Maybe I have got a story to tell. Maybe people will be interested in my life.’”


The first album I bought
LL Cool J – ‘Bigger And Deffer’
“It was down at Our Price – remember them? – in Fulham. I didn’t really know what genre I liked because I was so young. I just liked stuff that was catchy. I didn’t know if it was metal or grunge or rap. I’d buy albums because their covers looked scary or interesting.”

The first song I fell in love with
James Brown – ‘It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World’
“This is the first time I remember hearing music and thinking, ‘This is beautiful.’ It’s just so beautifully sung. It’s got this really haunting quality because of the processing of the vocals and the EQ. You can almost hear the sound of the room they recorded it in. It’s the first time I had a real respect for how powerful and emotional music could be.”

The song I do at karaoke
Warren G and Nate Dogg – ‘Regulate’
“My natural singing voice is as low as Nate Dogg’s. [Sings] ‘If you smoke like I smoke’. I can nail that bit. The Warren G rapping isn’t that difficult and I can do an American accent.”

The song I can no longer listen to
Example – ‘Changed The Way You Kiss Me’
“I don’t dislike the song, it’s done really well for me. It’s the reason I’ve got other big songs. It’s the song that got me attention overseas and allowed me to tour the world. But if it comes on the radio, I’ve got to turn it off.”

The song that makes me want to dance
Salt-n-Pepa – ‘Push It’
“It’s a proper wedding smasher, isn’t it? If you put this on at a party it’s impossible for everyone to not feel it. I’m normally more of a head nodder than a dancer, but if I’ve drunk enough, I’ll dance when this comes on.”

The song I want played at my funeral
Example – ‘One More Day’
[Laughs] “You could play this because the chorus goes, ‘Stay with me for just one more day’, and obviously I wouldn’t be there for one more day. I’d be dead!”


The song I wish I’d written
Nirvana – ‘Something In The Way’
“Kurt Cobain’s writing style is something I admire so much. I’ve got a song called ‘See The Sea’ on my second album ‘Won’t Go Quietly’ and we almost started with that song as a reference. I’ve started with that song as a reference four or five times.”

The song that reminds me of starting to sing
José González – ‘Heartbeats’
“I was always really shy about singing. Then I stood up in a pub on someone’s birthday and sang this. I sung it in my deep voice and everyone was like, ‘It’s beautiful when you sing in your own voice.’ That gave me the confidence to go and record ‘Kickstarts’, which was my first hit and had me singing on it.”