Welcome to #TBT Mixtape, Billboard‘s series that showcases artists’ very own throwback-themed playlists exclusive to Billboard‘s Spotify account. The curated set features the artists’ favorite tracks from their youth and childhood.
This week’s spin comes from Gus Seyffert. The musician, based in LA’s Silverlake neighborhood, has spent the past decade entrenched in the city’s East Side scene, performing via his own band Willoughby and collaborating with others, including The Bird and the Bee’s Inara George, drummer Joey Waronker (Beck, R.E.M.), and star producers including Greg Kurstin (Sia, P!nk), Ariel Rechtshaid (HAIM, Vampire Weekend), Glyn Johns (Eagles, The Rolling Stones), Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Paul McCartney) and more. His ample session work led to many stints on the road, including past arena dates performing alongside Adele, Beck, The Black Keys, Roger Waters, Norah Jones, Sia and others.
In addition to his session work, Seyffert has honed his ear as a skilled analog producer for Michelle Branch, Michael Kiwanuka, Bedouine, Jenny Lewis, Dr. Dog and many more via his own local studio, Sargent Recorders. There, he’s put his collection of vintage recording equipment to good use and created his own folk-pop sonic universe in the process, in keeping with the city’s ‘60s and ‘70s-era Lauren Canyon movement, which attracted The Byrds, The Mamas & The Papas, Joni Mitchell and others.
This fall, Seyffert released his first-ever solo music via the 7-inch single, “Hold On” b/w “Make It Out,” with more new music earmarked for 2020. “It’s been difficult finishing these first two tracks. I was coming off a long hiatus, and using my own name carried more pressure than I felt performing with my band, Willoughby,” he says. “I obsessed at every stage of the process; writing, recording, lyrics, mixing, but it was worth it.”
To help launch his new solo project, Gus put together this week’s #TBT Mixtape to highlight his early influences while growing up in Kansas City, including his school’s jazz band and the city’s “old school swing.” “I played in the Bennie Moten ghost band at a very young age. There was a great jazz scene in Kansas City,” he says. Later, he became “obsessed” with West Coast jazz and musicians including Chet Baker, Ornette Coleman and Charlie Haden, and even studied under the latter at Cal Arts after a move to Los Angeles.
Give the playlist a spin and check out some throwback pics of the musician as well as a reflection about the set below.
“All of these are musicians and songs that shaped my taste and truly had an impact on my life. My folks didn’t really listen to music much. When I was growing up, my mom played piano a lot but we only had a crappy little record player hidden away in the basement with a small stack of records that I think my godmother left with us. I think the first record my dad ever played me was The Beatles’ Abbey Road; it’s one of my earliest memories. I still have that copy, although it doesn’t play anymore. “Come Together” has always gotten an emotional reaction from me.
I was also obsessed with Kansas City’s Oldies 95 FM as a young child. When we were kids, my sister got Pink Floyd’s The Wall on cassette and we would each keep one of the tapes and then trade every few days. I had started playing guitar and my teacher had taught me a few Beatles songs but, “Is There Anybody Out There?” was first guitar part I was able to figure out on my own. “Nobody Home” always fucked me up.
I think I was around 12 when I finally realized that most other kids weren’t listening to classic rock. But I met another kid (Jake Blanton) who loved the Beatles and knew much more about them than I did. He made me choose between members — I picked John. “Imagine” was one of the records we had and I had yet to become familiar with Paul and George’s solo work. “God” hit me hard, because my parents are atheists and we went to a Unitarian church and I was in public school in Kansas City, MO.
As I played more electric bass I started to get into funk and soul. Paul Jackson from The Headhunters and Rocko from Tower of Power really changed the way I thought about bass. I wrote a song like 10 years back and someone told me it sounded like I’d been listening to JJ Cale. I hadn’t really heard him before; That is no longer the case. In a similar fashion after working on tape a lot and experimenting with varispeed an ex-girlfriend of mine told me I sounded like Joe Meek. I had no clue about him, but have since been educated. All the tracks on this list go with albums and artists I would obsess on and listen to the same records over and over again. Hope you enjoy.”