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Ian Curtis
“I felt a bit guilty picking the Joy Division song as it’s such an obvious choice but the lyrics are so amazing”

The Haxan Cloak’s heartbreak playlist

After working with Björk on ‘Vulnicura’, the London polymath shares his essential soul-baring tracks

Taken from the Spring 2015 issue of Dazed:

Wielding blackened, fuzz-heavy synths and doomy, disorientating bass, producer Bobby Krlic AKA The Haxan Cloak offers up the kind of anguish best served through a huge, pounding speaker. Brought up on a diet of “heartbreak music” from Roy Orbison to Joy Division, Krlic recently worked on Björk’s new album Vulnicura, which gut-wrenchingly explores the breakdown of her own relationship.

“It’s a feeling that’s absolutely universal, yet every time you’re heartbroken it’s completely unique. Songs on that subject matter are very well crafted. They come from a pure place. My dad always used to say that sometimes you can find great comfort in discomfort. I can really identify with that. It’s like watching a horror film and you know you’re not going to be able to sleep but you want to watch it anyway.”


‘Sometimes’ is an amazing song. I’ve been a fan since I was pretty young and that song in particular is about unrequited love, which I think most people have felt at some point. Also, My Bloody Valentine is a massive influence (on my work), texturally.”


“This is a bit of an obscure one. It’s an old soul song about how he knows his relationship is over. He’s basically saying he’s got a feeling in his bones that his wife’s leaving him and he doesn’t know why. That’s such an awful feeling to have. I think everybody has that subconscious awareness. I’ve definitely been in relationships where I’ve known there’s something wrong with the other person and they’re not saying it but you just carry on and hope that it’s not true.”


I felt a bit guilty picking the Joy Division song as it’s such an obvious choice but the lyrics are so amazing. Two people are completely in love, but so much so that they see each other trappings. They’re doing each other harm but they can't let go and they’re going in totally separate directions. Heartbreak never gets easier. I guess it’s an obvious choice for a reason.”


“My take on ‘Miss Misery’ was that he was heartbroken with himself. We know he was exceptionally depressed and it’s essentially his fight with depression. He sings ‘Do you miss me?’ which is like depression coaxing him back. It’s about this overarching power that depression has over him and he’s heartbroken with himself for not being able to conquer it, which is massively sad because we all know what happened to him.”


“A lot of people assume this song is to do with losing a lover or a partner but it’s about Paul McCartney’s mum dying, which I never realised. It’s really got an emotional resonance anyway, because me and my dad used to sit and sing it on the guitar when I was a kid, so it reminds me of that. But Paul McCartney found out his mum was dying when he was a kid and the first thing he said to his dad was ‘How are we going to survive without mum’s money?’ and I think that’s where the line ‘I said something wrong/ how I long for yesterday’ comes from. It’s that feeling of thinking 'Shit, I didn't mean that' and just wanting one more moment with somebody and you can never have it. That’s a completely different sort of heartbreak than the other songs I chose.”


“This one really sums it up for me. He thinks he’s fine and then he see’s this woman who broke his heart and all she does is hold is hand and it brings all of the emotions back to him and he knows from that moment that he’ll never get over it. That really encapsulates the power that somebody else can have over you as well. Especially if you know that person is completely fine. That can be more heart breaking. You want somebody to be mourning over you as much as you are mourning over them as it kind of makes it easier.”


“This is a bit different because it’s about somebody who is heartbroken with humanity. It’s about how we’ve fucked everything up basically and how there are so many awful people in the world and not many wonderful people. It’s a never ending uphill battle and something I think about a lot. I’m lucky in the sense that the people I meet day-to-day are artists and like minded people and I’m very liberal and left wing and then sometimes you’re put in situations in the ‘real world’ and you realise the way you think is way different to a lot of other people in the world who aren’t very nice. It’s really heart breaking. It’s complete despair.”


“’City as it might have been’ is kind of interesting anyway as the music is loud and the vocals are incredibly quiet. I’d never really listened to the lyrics that much, but they’re quite sorrowful. It’s about somebody imagining being somewhere where love is allowed to flourish but this place doesn’t actually exist. It’s a bit of a requiem.”


“Jackson C Frank’s voice can reduce you to tears alone. One of the lyrics is, ‘I have to leave her to find another/ I have to sing my heart's true song’ and he does that. But he’s been chasing after this carrot that’s been dangling and the carrot never existed in the first place. He had it while he wasn’t looking for it.”

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