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Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig explains why he loves The Kinks


Ezra Koenig, the frontman of indie band Vampire Weekend, has a special affinity towards The Kinks, a group that reminds him of one of his most sacred childhood memories, which come flooding back when he listens to their now-iconic music.

British bands have always influenced Vampire Weekend from their beginning despite Koenig’s Jersey roots. Throughout his adolescence, he had The Smiths on repeat, and you can clearly hear the Anglophobe within his work.

Over the last 15 years, the band has nailed down their position as one of alternative music’s most prominent names. While most groups that rose to fame towards the end of the 2000s alongside Vampire Weekend have fizzled away, they are still firing on all cylinders.

Before forming the group, Koenig met his bandmates Chris Tomson, Chris Baio and Rostam Batmanglij while studying at Columbia University. However, they didn’t immediately hit the ground running, and Koenig even worked as an English teacher for a period of time before blogs started taking notice of Vampire Weekend.

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As momentum grew, it was Britain that took them to their hearts from the off-set, and their first major tour was a support slot with The Shins on the shores of the United Kingdom. However, that wasn’t the first time Koenig had been to the country, and his initial trip was soundtracked exclusively by The Kinks.

Speaking to The Guardian, Koenig named their 1967 album, Something Else, as one of the most essential records in his life. The record most notably features ‘David Watts’ and ‘Waterloo Sunset,’ which is a track of particular significance to the singer.

“When I was 14 my family took a trip to London, which was the first and only trip we took together outside of the US,” he explained. “For some reason, we had to go to Waterloo station and my dad told me there was a song by the Kinks about people who meet there, then he played it for me when we got home. I associate it with this exotic feeling I had when I was there.”

Koenig continued: “At the time London seemed like a totally mystical place and lived up to my expectations of Englishness. I grew up in New Jersey, so mid-60s Kinks albums seemed like a pure fantasy world. The themes of this one are quite grown-up – it’s wistful and sentimental.

“I also like ‘Two Sisters’, which is about a woman who is jealous of her carefree, single sister but realises that the stability she has in her family life is more valuable. That’s such a different kind of song to listen to when you’re 14, as opposed to the stuff on pop radio about love and sex.”

Admittedly, Koenig’s description of England being “exotic” is bewildering to anyone who lives in the UK. However, his glowing words about Something Else are much more agreeable. There’s something quintessentially English about The Kinks which helped the singer paint this utopian image of the capital in his mind and reminds him of his perfect first foreign holiday.

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