Courtney LaPlante has a voice that's hard to ignore. Capable of switching from blood-curdling scream to subdued croon, it has helped turn her band, Vancouver post-metalcore trio Spiritbox, into one of the most talked-about groups of 2021. Her unique approach comes from listening to a wide and varied array of acts, from 70s soft rock and 80s funk to 00s tech metal. We asked Courtney to open up her record collection and talk us through the 10 albums that made her the force of nature she is.
Prince and The Revolution – Purple Rain (1984)
Prince (opens in new tab) made such strange music, and his songs were mainly love songs which had really strange imagery in them. When I was a kid, I didn’t quite understand what he was talking about most of the time, because normally it was about sex, but I was so fascinated by this man who was both so feminine and masculine at the same time.
It was the first time I thought about someone not just being a singer, but an actual full spectrum musician where his musicianship on all instruments were equally as important.
I think this album really is one of the biggest albums of my life and I love listening to it. And I’d say one of the songs I like the most is Darling Nikki. The first lyric is “I knew a girl named Nikki, I guess you could say she was a sex fiend, I met her in a hotel lobby, masturbating with a magazine”, and I was 7 years old like: “I don’t know what this means but it’s fucking cool”.
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (1977)
Rumours (opens in new tab) is a huge one for me, and I think that Dreams is one of the best songs ever written of all time. Of course, I’m always partial to Stevie Nicks (opens in new tab), but when I think of Fleetwood Mac (opens in new tab) I love that they have really pure simple songs with extremely powerful vocals. and it’s like each person in the band really adds a beautiful colour to the vocals. I think that my favourite on the album is The Chain because that song is heavy. The end of the song could be a metal song. Imagine the bass riff as a fucking metal riff!
Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head (2002)
This album really just explores so much emotion, but with constrained singing. There was restraint in Chris Martin's voice, and I think that the production on it still stands up, and that's one of the biggest things for me. Also, most of the songs aren't in a pop format, they kind of spin off into other things. I’d say it was one of the biggest albums of my teenage years. My boyfriend broke up with me when I was 14 and oh my god...I would just lay there listening to it thinking, “Chris Martin, this man in his 30s, married to Gwyneth Paltrow just gets me”.
System Of A Down – Toxicity (2001)
I think it came out in 2001, but it was a few years later when I started really actually listening to how wild that album was. It is still to this day one of the strangest albums I’ve ever heard. The way everything is recorded, it doesn't feel super tight and to a click, it feels wild and like an actual band performance. It started to teach me that you can have all different colours to your voice in one song. You can have beautiful singing, crazy yelling and then aggressive fast talking.
System Of A Down (opens in new tab) are such an inspiration to me for never compromising on their sound. I first started on the singles and when I was older I heard Prison Song, Deer Dance and that stuff, and that's when I was starting to make my own material. So those songs really inspired me to start toying with heavier music.
Metallica – Metallica (1991)
It would be a lot cooler to say ...And Justice For All (opens in new tab) or Ride The Lightning (opens in new tab), but the one for me is 'The Black Album' by Metallica (opens in new tab). This album was the thing that made me delve into production, like it the first time I had ever heard of a band taking a month to figure out their guitar tone, or recording drums with 20 microphones. I never understood that before, that production is so important. But the song that changed my life was hearing the intro to Sad But True. And hearing for the first time a drop-tuned guitar, like it was so evil sounding, and from that I was led to bands such as Black Sabbath (opens in new tab) and Led Zeppelin (opens in new tab). I was just so drawn to it.
Kanye West – The College Dropout (2004)
One of the other albums that changed my life was honestly The College Dropout by Kanye West. It was one of the first hip-hop albums that I started to think about as a collective. I wasn’t just listening to Kayne West, I was listening to so many people who lent themselves to it.
Also, the lyrical content and the beats on the album was like nothing I had ever heard. Even though Kayne West is a notoriously strange man, I felt like I wasn’t distracted by all that stuff when listening to it, I was really just focused on the music. Now his ego and personality is a huge part of it when you’re listening, but at the time he was more just a producer that was finding out he wanted to be a rapper.
I love it, so it’s definitely a huge one to me. I think it's probably the most listened to CD I have. I would fall asleep to it in my CD player and it would just be on repeat every night for 8 hours while I was asleep, so it's really ingrained in me.
Deftones – White Pony (2000)
When I first listened to Deftones' (opens in new tab) White Pony (opens in new tab), there were just so many songs on there that were like ecstasy. They’re really sexy and dirty, and grungey and kinda nu-metally sometimes, and there’s this fucking angel voice of Chino (opens in new tab) doing the beautiful falsetto. It's so floaty and I think it really stands up to the test of time. The guitar work and the drumming is also so special to me. I think Digital Bath is one of my favourite songs.
Beyoncé – Lemonade (2016)
Lemonade is so cool because it showed me that if you fucking work hard, you can make the weirdest album and everyone’s going to love it, because you're a great artist. You don’t have to put yourself in a box, even at that late stage in your career, you can make any kind of music that you want. Beyoncé is one of my favourite artists ever. I just think Lemonade is one of the coolest things, like there’s country on it, rock music on it, it's just a beautiful album and I listen to it at least once a week. And it’s just so fucking sexy!
Erykah Badu – Baduizm (1997)
This was the soundtrack of my childhood and it really introduced me to a strong, female voice, that wasn't just about the beautiful tone of her vocal, but one that was always telling a story. I just loved that she would go between rapping and singing. I love artists that have all this beautiful colour to their voice. And her music again, I didn’t know what the fuck she was talking about but I knew it was cool. Erica was always speaking in metaphor and imagery and had always made a lasting impression on me. She’s like one of the coolest, most diverse singers ever, and that album will always remind me of driving around with my mum. Or my mum cleaning the house and just jamming out to it.
Meshuggah – Obzen (2008)
The album that changed my life and swung me to pure craziness, was Obzen by Meshuggah (opens in new tab). There’s certain songs on it that you know exactly where you were when you first heard them. Like the song Bleed, I literally remember sitting in my room and my brother was on my computer. His friend had given him that CD, so he put it into iTunes, pressed play and then Bleed started playing. I remember I got up off my bed and was like “what the FUCK is this?”. I had never heard anything like it in my life.
It's hard to listen to for me all at once, it's like a math equation. It was so ahead of its time, and I thought that it sounded like someone dying in a cool way. All of us artists were all trying to imitate that but none of us can. I guess it's been like 12 years since I first heard Bleed, and it still punches me in the face when I hear it. It took me off my path, and got me onto the path of how their singer screams. It was pure, animalistic, screams. It didn’t even sound like a human being. I love sounding like that, it's my favourite way to scream. That one stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it.