Five Favourites: SRSQ

‘Saved for Summer’ is the latest single from American ethereal-pop artist Kennedy Ashlyn – aka SRSQ (pronounced seer-skew), taken from her latest album Ever Crashing. Although Summer may be over, this is the powerful pop anthem we need to get us through the upcoming gloomy winter. Opening with a fun ’80s synth-pop beat followed by a thick lush synth pad and a fuzzy catchy guitar riff, it’s clear from the start that this track is going to have an impact. Full of atmospheric layers and ethereal sounds, a frenzied cacophony builds, but in a way that immerses you completely. Ashlyn’s voice is theatrical and powerful and her eclectic genre-bending style brings to mind artists like Kate Bush and St Vincent. The recurring vocal “oohs” lodge themselves in the ears and stay there all day long. Of the lyrics, Ashlyn explains: “Saved for Summer’ echoes the yearning to escape a depressive miasma, the desperate desire to stop watching life through a window”.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the recent release of Ever Crashing, we caught up with SRSQ to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. See below for their choices of their five favourite albums, and be sure to watch the trippy new video for the ‘Saved For Summer’ at the end of this feature.

The Horrors – Primary Colours
This album has consistently been in my top three favourite albums since it came out over a decade ago, which I think might make it my favourite record. I was 15 when it came out, and what really drew me to it was the sound design and guitar tones, which I still think are very unique, but at the time I hadn’t heard anything even close to similar. I remember hearing in an interview that the guitarist actually made a lot of his own pedals, which I had never even heard of at the time. The sound is simultaneously ambient and harsh, and you can definitely hear that influence in my music. I also think the album starts in such an intriguing way and has such a captivating arc, it’s really an enchanting listen. 

Slowdive – Souvlaki
My TAUT bandmate Cash introduced me to this album when I was 19, and it was love at first listen. This album is one of the best examples of how sound itself can be vastly emotional, outside of the songwriting, beyond the lyrics – how the textures and timbres can pull at your heartstrings and reach you in a deep visceral way. I saw them live the following year at the Fox Theater in Oakland, and in between songs they would sometimes break out into this ambient harsh noise, and these were the most beautiful and impactful parts of the performance. They have an uncanny ability to create a synesthesia of sound and feeling, and I don’t think anyone does it better.

Cocteau Twins – Garlands
Though it’s hard to choose, I’m pretty sure this is my favourite Cocteau Twins record. It’s just so driving, and the guitar tones are so perfect – it’s moody and beautiful, and solid from start to finish. Cocteau Twins were (are) my mom’s favourite band, so I listened to them growing up and kind of wrote them off as a teen, assuming it was “mom music.” When I started writing what would become the songs on Remain, my mom heard them and told me I needed to get back into Cocteau Twins, and burned me a few CDs. I obviously fell back in love immediately, and it was an interesting experience being subconsciously familiar with all of the material while still feeling like I was hearing it for the first time. I think it’s super interesting how everyone points out an “obvious Cocteau Twins influence” in Them Are Us Too, but I didn’t actually get back into them until after writing most of the songs on the first record, so that influence was largely subconscious, at least in the songwriting stage. 

Beach House – Bloom 
I honestly think this is a perfect album, I’m not even really sure what else I can say about it. The songwriting, the tones, the production, the mix- all of it is just phenomenal. Every element just shows true mastery of the craft. Cash considered Beach House one of her greatest inspirations for guitar work. I was lucky enough to see them three times while they were touring for this record, and I still remember those shows vividly. One time was at a festival (I don’t remember which) and they performed in front of a sunset over the water. A breathtaking moment. 

The Knife – Deep Cuts
I think a lot of records could have gone into this fifth and final slot, (Loveless and Disintegration come to mind), but I think this one is a little less obvious of an influence, which is why I wanted to touch on it. The Knife have truly some of the most unique and genre-defying sound palettes – what they create is truly their own in every way. The sounds and the songs are strange, but they just work. I also love that they put ‘Heartbeats’ in a commercial, totally blew up, turned the band into an anti-capitalist collective, put out one more record, and then dissolved the project. And when they toured on Shaking the Habitual, they had a bunch of performers onstage, which obscured who “The Knife” actually were, as like a statement about art and celebrity and consumption of artists, and they didn’t play ‘Heartbeats’ – both of which pissed off the audience who only knew them from their commercial success. It’s like the most punk shit I’ve ever heard of. 

Huge thanks to SRSQ for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Watch the self-directed, wonderfully psychedelic new video for ‘Saved For Summer’ here:

‘Saved For Summer’ is produced by Chris Coady (Beach House, Slowdive). Ever Crashing, the second album from SRSQ, is out now via Dais Records.

Ella Patenall
@ellapatenall

Photo Credit: Nedda Asfari

Track Of The Day: Aderyn – ‘Playground’

‘Playground‘ is the latest single from South Wales indie-pop artist Aderyn, recent ‘Artist Of The Week’ on BBC Radio Wales. It’s a fun, summery and infectious pop song with a rock edge, recorded in LA with Bobby Bloomfield (who’s previously worked with the likes of 50 Cent and Linkin Park). 

The production is clean and polished with many engaging pop hooks and a cool, fizzing musicality propelled by the tight and energetic rhythm section. Aderyn sings blunt and playful lyrics following a recent breakup, delivered full of attitude and sass; sometimes sung so fast she’s almost rapping. She’s mastered immersive lyrical storytelling, allowing you to picture the scene in your mind – a story that many will relate to and cathartically sing along with in the chorus.

Musically, the song is built around fuzzy, slightly distorted riffs giving it a rocky edge, bringing to mind artists like Olivia Rodrigo, Soccer Mommy and Pale Waves, whilst incorporating swirling guitar chops, synth hooks and vocal harmonies.

Of the track, Aderyn explains:

“Playground was written just after a break-up. I was definitely in the ‘anger’ state of mourning the relationship when I wrote this song. I often joke at my gigs that singing this song live is a form of free therapy for me”. 

‘Playground’ is accompanied by a vibrant music video, showcasing Aderyn’s cheeky charisma and colourful energy as she sings directly into the camera at a sunny seaside theme park, at one point holding a pink smoke flare to amp up the attitude and fun. Watch here:

You can catch Aderyn live at  Sŵn Festival, Cardiff on the 22nd October. Find info about this and other tour dates via her Instagram .

Ella Patenall
@ellapatenall

Photo Credit: Hannah Tottle

Track Of The Day: Midnight Ambulance – ‘Smoke and Sweets’

In 2020, old friends reconnected after years apart and formed Midnight Ambulance, and boy are we glad they did! This perfect partnership has crafted an eclectic and dark sound which has gone on to see the Edinburgh based duo shortlisted for BBC Introducing Scottish Act of the Year 2022 and as support for Texas at Fringe By The Sea this August

Latest single ‘Smoke and Sweets‘ is a captivating offering, reflecting on feelings of isolation and someone’s reality slipping away; written through the Covid-19 lockdown, where isolation was experienced by many. The subject matter is clearly reflected through the powerful soundscape the duo have created, cleverly blending an exquisite folk-inspired musicality with electronic sounds and fuzzy in-your-face guitar, building to an immense frenzied climax. This eclectic fusion of sounds really gives them an interesting edge where you don’t know what to expect. 

Opening with an electronic drone and reverb-washed yet detailed vocals, Midnight Ambulance set an atmospheric scene with a stunning traditional folk melody sung with haunting close harmonies. A distorted drum enters, panned hard to one side, demonstrating interesting production decisions. For fellow audiophiles, this track must be listened to with quality headphones or a good sound system to truly experience the beautiful intricacies of what’s going on.

At one and a half minutes in, you are hit with a delicious drop – introducing heavier and more distorted territories. The vocals become faster, more urgent and desperate – “I don’t know how to let it go”. There’s feedback on the guitar, breathy vocal chops, vocal vocoders and smashing cymbals, poignantly mirroring the protagonist’s loss of reality. 

‘Smoke and Sweets’ was recorded at North Road Studios, which uses vintage equipment – giving the song a unique gritty warmth. 

Watch the stirring live video for ‘Smoke and Sweets’ here:

Ella Patenall
@ellapatenall

Photo Credit: Gareth Goodlad