Though we’d already been hosting our own radio show and gig nights at The Finsbury for some time before, last week marked three years since we started this little website; a sanctuary dedicated to promoting and supporting women and non binary people in new music. A place for us to spread the word about the bands and artists so deserving of your ears; a place to indulge ourselves in writing about just how truly necessary their art is to our wellbeing. And how prevalent this has been over the last few months. For the government to pass off musicians as a surplus profession that doesn’t deserve any funding in these hard times seems utterly ludicrous; their work is a total lifeline for us, something we need in order to survive, now more than ever.
So, to celebrate our birthday, we pay tribute to the bands and artists who we’ve sought refuge in throughout these trying times. Some old favourites who may have cropped up on the website/at our gigs/on our radio show more than once over the last three years; and some new discoveries who we have happened upon and fallen in love with whilst in the depths of lockdown…
Read about our choices below, and make sure you have a listen to our special Birthday playlist!
Whilst the last seven months haven’t been easy – in addition to the general anxieties I’m sure everyone has been feeling, continuing my day job of supporting students with mental health difficulties has certainly taken its toll on my own wellbeing – the situation has also given me a chance to reflect on the things I treasure most. Not only am I extremely lucky to live with a loving partner (our very own GIHE art director, Paul) and still have a job I feel passionately about, but being part of Get In Her Ears and the feeling of unity and togetherness (despite being physically apart) I feel with co-founders Tash and Kate is something I’m grateful for every day. That, and the abundance of incredible new music I’m being constantly sent, plus the many memories I have of incredible gigs at The Finsbury, is definitely something that has got me through recently. So, a huge thank you to all the bands and artists who have been a part of the Get In Her Ears journey, and have been continuing to create wonderful offerings of catharsis this year.
Little Simz – Grey Area
Whenever I need an uplift, a shot of motivation – which has been quite frequently lately – I listen to Little Simz’ Grey Area. The perfect soundtrack to the current anxieties and injustices rife in society, it gives me a little bit of hope. It makes me feel like there’s power in being a woman; it leaves me feeling momentarily inspired and indestructible – as she asserts in album track ‘Offence’, “I’m a boss in a fucking dress”.
Eilis Frawley – ‘Stats’
Having been left utterly spellbound by classically trained drummer and percussionist Eilis Frawley’s set for us at Notting Hill Arts Club last year, her recent singles have been perfectly affecting and resonant right now. ‘Stats’, for example, highlights the everyday injustices facing women today. Tackling issues such as period poverty, FGM, domestic violence and other vital issues, it’s a beautifully striking and necessary listen.
Screaming Toenail – Growth
Screaming Toenail headlined one of the last gigs we hosted in December last year – the night after the fateful election result; a night when a sense of impending doom lingered, but who could have foreseen just how horrific things would get. With us all feeling emotionally drained, the band managed to bring a comforting sense of unity and cathartic joy to the venue, as like-minded people came together to dance and sing in solidarity. And their recent album Growth is truly a soundtrack to our times; a necessary listen right now. Starkly reminding us that on returning to ‘normality’, we need to create a new normal. One in which voices like Screaming Toenail’s can be amplified to the max; one in which we prioritise creating safe, queer, intersectional communities and spaces for people to share their art together. One in which we are all continually fighting for change and feel able to grow bigger and louder in the face of challenges.
Diet Cig – Do You Wonder About Me?
Having been pretty obsessed with their 2017 album Swear I’m Good At This since it came out, the return of Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman – aka Diet Cig – to my ears could not have been more welcome. Their latest album Do You Wonder About Me? is filled with Luciano’s luscious honey-sweet vocals, infectious jangly melodies and all the twinkling energy I need now more than ever. A shimmering collection; perfectly uplifting isolation listening.
Fightmilk – ‘If You Had A Sister’
They’ve headlined for us at The Finsbury not once, but twice, over the last four years and Fightmilk remain one of my complete favourites. Latest release ‘If You Had A Sister’ may be more sombre in tone than previous releases, but loses none of the band’s trademark catchy, emo-tinged indie-pop goodness. A band that are continuously refining their sound and, in the process, consistently continuing to win my heart – a much needed combination right now.
Emma Kupa – It Will Come Easier
Having been a big fan of Mammoth Penguins for some time now, especially since they delivered a total dream of a set for us at The Finsbury last year, front person Emma Kupa releasing her debut solo album It Will Come Easier has been a definite high point of the last few months. It’s impossible not to become utterly immersed in each song’s subtle passion and heartfelt lyrical storytelling; listening to Kupa’s stirring indie-pop calms my mind on each listen.
Amaroun – ‘Rise’
Having released a stream of singles each month for the first half of this year, Jay Brown aka Amaroun’s stirring creations have succeeded in blissing me out whilst giving pause for reflection through some trying times. Flowing with shimmering hooks and glitchy beats alongside Brown’s rich, emotion-strewn vocals, each track has focused on the theme of being a queer woman: each a poignant, effervescent reflection on love, life and rising up against oppression. Jay has also hosted two of of Instagram Live Takeovers recently – talking about the meaning behind her songs and promoting her new book of poetry, Black, Queer and No Idea.
LibraLibra – ‘Listerine’
From the riotous colossal cacophony of the all-too-poignant ‘Panic Buy’, to the spellbinding melancholic grandeur of most recent single ‘Listerine’, total faves LibraLibra have provided a powerful and eclectic lockdown soundtrack. With each track, whatever the mood, they offer a perfect, impassioned catharsis. And LibraLibra completely blew us away at one of my most favourite gigs that we’ve hosted over the last four years, when they played for us live last December… I miss organising gigs so much – such a huge void in my life – and I cannot wait for when it is safe to witness the raging charisma of LibraLibra live once more.
Blonde Maze – ‘Not All Flowers Bloom’
Having been a huge fan of New York artist and previous guest on our radio show Blonde Maze for a long while now, I’ve been super grateful for her latest releases ‘Not All Flowers Bloom’ and ‘To The Moon’ over the last few months. Complete with chiming beats and twinkling hooks, they’re further testimony to the truly euphoric electro-pop soundscapes she’s capable of creating. I could listen to her exquisite offerings on a loop forever – I just find her music so completely calming and blissfully cathartic. Essential listening for these anxiety-inducing times.
HNNY – Sunday
I came across HNNY through one of my Spotify ‘Daily Mix’ playlists – something I have frequently been relying on in my indecisive, distracted state throughout lockdown. I’d never heard HNNY before, but one listen of Sunday and I was completely hooked. I still don’t really know anything about the artist, but have found myself listening to their back catalogue on repeat – their utterly luscious, other-worldy dreamscapes the perfect working from home accompaniment.
Additional shout outs to: Bikini Kill – we all know how much they mean to me, so treated myself to their special 20th Anniversary edition EP last Bandcamp day; Bandcamp – for supporting artists so consistently and waiving their fees once a month since the start of lockdown; and Bugeye – they’ve hosted an epic weekly podcast ‘Rock, Pop, Rambles‘, providing uplifting chat and tunes, and even had yours truly on as a guest back in May.
When I received a text from the government on the 9th of April telling me to shield and not to leave the house for 12 weeks, I thought I’d have a pretty easy lockdown. Little did I know that staying inside for 24 hours a day, only interacting with people via Zoom would be quite detrimental to my mood, I’d become slightly agoraphobic, and I’d have to do a course of CBT over the phone because I was obsessing about things that had happened to me a year ago. Still, I think my lockdown experience was easier than most, and it was certainly made easier by the constant flow of good music that kept my GIHE inbox full.
Lido Pimienta – Miss Colombia
When I Skyped Lido Pimienta back in April and asked her what she was up to during lockdown, she replied: “Staying indoors, but being fabulous,” as she gestured to her colourful make-up and red hair accessories that matched her dress. Her joyful perspective, and her passion for her upcoming album Miss Colombia transcended the screen. “My biggest pride is having put Afro-Colombian music – that we recorded in Colombia with traditional roots – right in the mix of electronic and orchestral music.” she explained, and what an achievement that is. (you can read the full interview here.)
Lady Gaga – Chromatica
I was one of millions of Gaga fans who spent Chromatica release day prancing around their bedrooms, dramatically miming the lyrics to ‘Stupid Love’ into the mirror. The album is full of sweeping instrumentals and wall-to-wall dance BANGERS. ‘Rain On Me’ may have been written pre-pandemic, but a song about uncontrollably bawling your eyes out slotted perfectly into my psyche during my lockdown blues, so I was able to ride out my coronacoaster of emotions in true Gaga style. Listening to this album and talking about it with friends really cheered me up, and soothed the sting of missing out on seeing her live again (for the third time…)
Jessica Winter – Sad Music
Sad Music, the debut EP from Brixton-based Queen of sad bangers Jessica Winter was such a tonic for my ears during April and May. It’s full of edgy, electro-pop bangers designed to provide relief during life’s more hectic moments. She was also one of the first guests we interviewed via Zoom for our GIHE radio show when it returned after 16 weeks off air, which was an even bigger mood booster for me! (you can listen back to that here.)
Noga Erez – ‘NO News ON TV’
“I don’t wanna look at my phone anymore,” muses Noga Erez at the beginning of this track, and I felt that with every fibre of my being during summertime. I get so fatigued staring at screens all day, and while it’s important not to disconnect from social media and world events entirely, it is important to put this song on and give yourself a 3 minute dance break from it all at least four times a day. Noga Erez is yet to release something we don’t all collectively love here at GIHE, and I’m just so glad she’s keeping up the momentum and releasing incredible singles, and beautifully shot videos like this one.
Beckie Margaret – ‘God’
If you’d like to read 200+ words about how emotional Beckie Margaret’s music makes me, click here. I think she has a flawless voice and her lyrics bruise me in the best kind of way. She releases through Cool Thing Records, whose roster I cannot recommend enough. They’re a proper DIY collective run by people who absolutely love the music they’re making and promoting, and it’s always a good day when an email about one of their artists appears at the top of my GIHE inbox.
Slightly off topic for GIHE – but I also listened to Rage Against The Machine’s The Battle Of Los Angeles, and Run The Jewels new album regularly throughout lockdown. I also got a bit obsessed with series 3 of an amazing podcast called ‘Slow Burn’ which is in depth discussion about the lives and deaths of Tupac & Biggie Smalls.
2020 has been a year unlike any other. Everyone’s lives have been impacted in one way or another, in varying degrees and complications, and I am at the privileged end of that spectrum. But it wasn’t until several months into the lockdown that things started to hit for me, maybe because all my energy went into keeping the LGBT+ helpline I run going, maybe because I filled every hour I had with zooms, or maybe because I, like so many others was in shock. One thing I missed the most was doing our weekly radio shows, going to our monthly Get In Her Ears gig nights and just live music in general. Which is why I delved into my memories and looked to all the fantastic artists that we have had the opportunity to interview, play on our radio show or see at one of our gigs – thank you to all of you! Get In Her Ears is for you.
Scrounge – ‘Etch’
I included this particular song on an earlier playlist this year in the midst of lockdown after having a rather dramatic moment running in torrential rain with it, thrashing my frustration out in air drums. On a more serious note, this band and their music got me through one of my lowest moments during this lockdown. The infectious drums, catchy chorus and memories of seeing them live dragged me out of my cloud and reminded me of the importance of music in dealing with life’s challenges. Thank you Scrounge – I owe you.
Julia-Sophie – ‘Breathe’
I discovered Julia-Sophie’s music at the beginning of 2020 and with the release of her EP Y? in the midst of the pandemic, I cannot be more thankful. The record draws you in from the outset, with this lead track ‘Breathe’ enveloping you with its sound as the pulsating title lyric repeats, leaving it reverberating around your head after only the second listen. It’s been a staple on speakers throughout this year and still is. Being given the opportunity to go back to Hoxton Radio studios and restart our Get In Her Ears radio show couldn’t have come at a better time, not only because it is a highlight of my week picking and choosing the music to spin for you all but also because we get to stay connected with amazing artists such as Julia-Sophie. You can check out our Julia-Sophie radio interview here and also Julia-Sophie’s Five Favourites giving you an insight into what is getting into her ears.
Balraj Singh Samrai, Pandit G Gavsborg, Farah Amad Khan, Shanique Marie, Tunde Adekoya, Vikaash – ‘I Should Have Hugged You Tighter When We Last Met (Oh What A Joy)’
This piece was made in June of this year with help from Opera North’s artist development programme, Resonance: The Lockdown Edition. Combining music and spoken word to document life during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on communities of colour, Samrai initially produced an instrumental which tabla player Vikaahsh Sankadecha added South Asian percussion rhythms to. Equiknoxx member Gavsborg then penned a poem for the track, and Farah Ahmad Khan added her own spoken word contribution. The accompanying video is so powerful and was made by the Rainbow Collective, go check it out and raise the profile of this track. This is documentary art at its best.
Seraphina Simone – ‘Hollywood $$$’
One of the things that I will always be thankful for are the artists and the music that continued to be released throughout 2020 against a backdrop of chaos, and Seraphina was one of those artists. ‘Hollywood’ was one of those songs shining the spotlight on the glitzy, gritty, ghastly Hollywood. Now with the slow reopeninig of the world we got to talk to Seraphina about life, music and LA on our radio show, which you can listen back to here. Big love to Seraphina and go check her out now if you haven’t already!
Skunk Anansie – ‘Weak’
I couldn’t contribute to this feature without mentioning a definite highlight for me in 2020 and that was interviewing Skin! I had an amazing chat with Skin and Lucy O’Brien to talk about the fresh off the shelves memoir “It Takes Blood and Guts” which they have co-written together. If you want to hear a little snippet of some wise words that Skin said when it comes to dealing with all the racism, sexism, homophobia and general inequality that so often reverberates around the world (especially now) then listen back to our 01.10.20 Radio Show. The interview is available for you to cast your eyes over here in all its fangirl glory (I couldn’t help myself).
GIRLHOOD – ‘The Love I Need’
London duo Girlhood returned with their banging single ‘The Love I Need’ earlier this. year. The first taster from their debut album which is set for release this October. I have played this track and all their subsequent releases consistently on repeat since, samples mixed with Tessa’s lyrics, nods to 90s neo-soul and songs that just fill you with so much joy – exactly what we all need right now. You can listen back to our radio interview on GET IN HER EARS W/ GIRLHOOD 08.10.20 here.
Playlist: Pride 2020
My last choice is a bit of a cheat but this is one thing that has definitely helped me get through this year, get through all the negativity that has been thrown at the LGBTQIA+ communities, specifically transgender and gender non-conforming folks. Music brings us together, it challenges and it changes, but most importantly it helps us to survive.
To copy Kate and give a shout out to a podcast I would strongly recommend Ecstacy: The Battle of Rave series which is all about the history of Acid House in the UK, it’s really great and probably the closest thing to an actual rave right now.
Thanks to all who’ve supported us over the last three years. Listen to our special birthday playlist below!