10 tracks: Lydia Ainsworth

The singer shares the tracks that inspired her other-worldly album Darling of the Afterglow

Emerging from the darkness to the sound of her own haunting vocals, it feels as if Lydia Ainsworth looks through the camera and straight into your soul in her video, ’Afterglow’. The track can be found on her latest album, Darling of the Afterglow, which was released on 31 March this year. Canadian Ainsworth is a trained composer; she studied film-scoring at McGill University, Montreal and the album is suitably cinematic. Melancholic piano chords disrupt synth-pop to immersive, atmospheric effect.

Lonely night-time walks are crucial to Ainsworth’s creative process, which perhaps explains the dark and gothic nature to her music. “I take the most promising songs for walks at night,” she says. “I know that I've started something worth seeing through to completion if I feel the need to listen to it on a stroll.” The relationship is two-fold; as well as giving her music context, walking gives Ainsworth inspiration. “These walks give me time and space to uncover the next puzzle pieces to look for when I return to the studio.”

The new album also includes a cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’. Ainsworth doesn’t seem to mind that the track has been reimagined previously, by artists such as James Vincent McMorrow and London Grammar. “‘Wicked Game’ has such a timeless haunting melody and universal message that connects so deeply with so many people,” says Ainsworth. “I was attracted to the song for those reasons as so many others before me have. My cover is very stripped back, and in a live setting I play with very minimal accompaniment. It was the challenge of relying so heavily on my vocals to communicate the message that attracted me to cover it.”

Ainsworth’s Darling of the Afterglow tour will take her across North America, before she jets across to Europe, with a gig on 31 May at London Fields Brewhouse. Before Lydia Ainsworth’s visit to the UK, we asked her to name the tracks that inspired her album.


Pentangle - Hunting Song

A magical performance and display of musicianship. Amazing arrangement.

Madonna - Tell Me

I wrote a banjo line in my song 'What is it?" because of Madonna.

Stravinsky - Four Russian Songs

Inspired my background vocal harmonies.

Shostakovich - String Quartet No. 8

I love the cathartic feeling this quartet gives me. I wanted to recreate that same feeling of release at the end of my song 'Feel It All’. I was inspired by its energy.

The Sweet Inspirations - Crying In The Rain

Whitney Houston's mother Cissy Houston sang in this group. I love all their recordings but this one especially is perfect for soothing heartache. Incredible singers.

Wendy Carlos - A Clockwork Orange (Intro)

Wendy Carlos, a true innovator and pioneer, this score and this scene are everything.

Kate Bush - A Woman's Worth

Pure emotion.

Claude Debussy - Book I. Prelude No.8. La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin

I read an interview with Max Martin about what he listens to when writing songs, he said he only listens to jazz because he doesn't understand it and he doesn't have to analyse it when he hears it. I'm the same in that I rarely listen to much music when I'm writing, Debussy piano works are my go to background music in my greenroom before a show. They clear my mind.

Annie Lennox - Why

Her voice and the production, the personal emotional intent. No one gets as honest as Annie, Diva is one of my favourite albums ever, this song is a blueprint for amazing songwriting. The harmonic shifts. Just amazing.

Nina Simone - I Loves You Porgie

Nina Simone. There are no words. Her talent was immeasurable.