ALBUM: Boy Harsher – ‘The Runner’

On their new album The Runner, Boy Harsher expand the remit of their work, situating their signature dark electro-pop amid a set of alternative avenues implied, but unexplored in their earlier offerings. It comes in part as a response to the domestic setting imposed over the Covid years, which took away the natural context for the creation of what they refer to as “club music”. The process going into the project also served as a form of catharsis for the duo in the face of their own personal struggles, with Jae Matthews’ MS diagnosis in particular being cited by the group in discussing the release.

The 28-minute album is framed as a soundtrack to an accompanying short film created by the band. Under the proudly displayed banner of an Official Soundtrack, the duo lean into the sense of drama and shadow created by their music. Opener ‘Tower’ sets out the stall, with ribbons of synth pulse, heartbreakingly unravelling around the mantra ‘you don’t want to know me,’ before eventually exploding into an epic, howling climax. Other tracks like the closing pair ‘Untitled’ and ‘I Understand’ offer time for the listener to breathe and create a sense of narrative within the music, even in isolation from its intended visual accompaniment.

The form also provides a context for excursions into a range of genres, which gives the album the pace of jukebox soundtracks like Morvern Callar and Jubilee (the latter evidently a key influence on the film itself, as the recently released ‘Machina’ section shows.) This effect is heightened by the inclusion of other voices to Matthews on the album, which furthers its dynamic range. Alongside alternately danceable and ambient tracks credited solely to Boy Harsher are features from Mariana Saldaña on ‘Machina’, a robot rock floor-filler, and Cooper B. Handy (aka Lucy) on the antiheroic anthem ‘Autonomy’, a great would-be retro-futuristic pop tune made unique by their distinctive voice and its spartan production treatment.

The unusual conceptual approach to this album makes for a compelling and refreshingly various collection of songs. In spite of its brevity, we find ourselves on a genuinely cinematic journey across these 8 tracks. Perhaps what is most impressive is its assimilation of this new range of sounds and the voices of other artists into something that still feels distinctively like a Boy Harsher release, an impressive feat given the difference in approach and context for its creation. In creating The Runner universe, complete with the motion picture, the duo have managed to craft a world for their music to inhabit in the absence of its natural real-life context.

Boy Harsher’s new album The Runner is released on 21st Jan via Nude Club/City Slang

Follow Boy Harsher on bandcamp, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter & Facebook

Photo Credit: Jordan Hemmingway

Lloyd Bolton

@franklloydwleft
@lloyd_bolton

LISTEN: GIHE on Soho Radio with Prima Queen 12.01.22

Tash, Kate & Mari were back on the Soho Radio airwaves playing loads of new music from some of their favourite female, non-binary and LGBTQ+ artists.

London-based band Prima Queen joined them to talk about their latest single ‘Chew My Cheeks’, what it was like working alongside The Big Moon who were on production duties for the release, and how everyone seemed to re-watch The Matrix during Lockdown in 2020…

Listen back below:

 

Tracklist
Big Joanie – New Year
ML Buch – I’m a Girl You can Hold IRL
Babeheaven – Don’t Wake Me
Let’s Eat Grandma – Happy New Year
Midwife – 2020
Girl Ray – Murder on the Dance Floor
Catherine Moan – Soda Pop
KEYAH/BLU – Til Bliss
Novaa – You Can F With Me
Skylu – Foreign Concept
Zannie – Mechanical Bull
Softcult – Gaslight
Dakota Jones – Blacklight
Prima Queen – Chew My Cheeks
**Prima Queen Interview**
Rosie Alena – God’s Garden
Worse Off – You Belong Here
Petty Phase – Made To Order
HALINA RICE – Sunken Suns
MAITA – Honey, Have I Lost It All?
Bitch – Hello Meadow
Low – I Can Wait
Lucy Barton – Starlight
Carmel Smickersgill – Questioning
FKA Twigs ft. The Weeknd – Tears In The Club

GIHE: Ones To Watch 2022

It’s safe to say 2021 has been a tough one… But if there’s one positive to take away from this year, it’s the immense amount of incredible new music that’s been released, and the hope of even more sublime offerings from some wonderful new bands in 2022.

For our final annual end of year round-up, we’re sharing our ‘Ones To Watch’ for 2022… Just a few of the amazing bands and artists who have impressed us throughout 2021, and that we predict will be reaching ears far and wide next year… Have a read of our choices, and make sure you give them all a follow to keep track of their unmissable achievements over the next 12 months.

Cherym
Derry trio Cherym are one of my favourite discoveries of the year. Having had their EP Hey Tori pretty much on repeat over the last few months, seeing their gig at Paper Dress Vintage in October left me buzzing with a joyous sense of nostalgic euphoria – not only because it was my first gig since Covid, but because of the band’s unmatched exuberant energy and fiery spirit. Each of their songs is a perfect ​​master class in pure, perfect punk-pop – instant singalong anthems. I just can’t get enough of their empowering energy and bubbling, sugar-coated scuzz. And, having now been featured in Kerrang!, and with plans to play at SXSW this Spring, it seems they’re definitely ones to keep your eyes and ears out for in 2022! 
(Mari Lane – Co-Founder)


Pretty Happy 
I still crack up when I think of Pretty Happy guitarist Abbey Blake commenting “you’re the first person to say we have genuine talent” when I told them how great I thought their music was back in September. Together, Pretty Happy – aka art-punk trio Abbey, Arann Blake and Andy Killian – create riotous, tongue-in-cheek offerings often centred around their observations and experiences of living in their home county of Cork, Ireland. I had their EP Sluggers Bridge on heavy rotation during 2021, chanting along to ‘Sea Sea Sea’ and ‘Sudocrem’ as loudly and obnoxious-ly as possible. The band should hopefully be supporting Gilla Band on NYE if restrictions in Ireland allow, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll make it over to the UK in 2022 so I can see them live for the first time.
(Kate Crudgington – Co-Founder)


BAXTR
Blasting out the pink, fuzzy energy we’ve so needed this year, and having received acclaim from the likes of BBC Introducing, London trio Floss, Bash and Keiko – aka BAXTR – have fast become one of my favourite bands of 2021. With sunny, uplifting singles such as ‘In Pop We Trust’ and ‘Grace On Fire’, the band showcase their knack for combining a kitsch, honey-sweet pop allure with a fierce, frenzied rock spirit, consistently delivering an effervescent, euphoric power with each frenzied, fun-filled floor-filler. A band on the rise for sure, I can’t wait to host BAXTR playing live for us at The Shacklewell Arms on 24th February, along with headliners Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business and Sheffield band Potpourri. Get your tickets on DICE now. 
(ML)


Grandmas House
Since I heard the opening riff of ‘Always Happy’ by Bristol trio Grandmas House, I have been hooked on their sardonic, thumping post-punk sounds. Formed of Yasmin Berndt, Poppy Dodgson and Zoë Zinsmeister, the band combine gritty guitars, powerhouse percussion and visceral vocals to create intensely relatable anthems. Watching them live at The WIndmill in Brixton was a real joy this year and I look forward to insisting Mari buy their last tote bag at the merch stand at more of their gigs in the future.
(KC)


Queen Cult
Following acclaim from the likes of BBC Introducing for their debut single ‘Shindigger‘, and support for explosive recent offerings ‘Show & Tell’ and ‘A Song About Consent’ from big names such as Bang Bang Romeo, Cheshire band Queen Cult have been fast making a name for themselves this year. Consisting of front person Maisie Johnson and bassist Leila Jacklin, as well as Brodie Carson on drums and Piers Jarvis on guitar, the band pride themselves on their LGBTQ+ identity and sharing their queer, politically-charged messages with the masses, and I cannot get enough of their seething, gritty energy and riotous, angst-driven power. And, with a tour with GIHE faves LibraLibra set for January, it seems as though many more people will be being lured to the band’s fierce colossal spirit and instantly catchy musicality very soon. 
(ML)


Brimheim
I have Mari to thank for bringing Danish artist Brimheim to my attention this year, after she played her shadowy, sublime single ‘poison fizzing on a tongue’ on our radio show. Brimheim’s buoyant second single ‘hey amanda’ is a gentler, but equally as emotive track that showcases her talent for capturing a moment in its purest form. I’m so excited to hear her new album, the magnificently titled can’t hate myself into a different shape, when it’s released in January 2022.
(KC)


45ACIDBABIES
Dutch garage-pop punks 45ACIDBABIES have been providing a welcome quirky, fizzing soundtrack throughout 2021. Having previously shared stages with the likes of Sleigh Bells and Blood Red Shoes, with singles such as ‘Mommy’s Favourite 1’ and ‘Only Class6 From Now On’, they have showcased their ability to create perfectly catchy, danceable anthems. With each single offering a wonderfully obscure cacophony propelled by a swirling energy and vibrant honey-sweet allure, the band have already gathered a huge fan-base in their native Holland (with over 685k streams of their music on Spotify this year), but I predict that 2022 sees them headed for world domination… Watch this space! 
(ML)

Lilith Ai
Self-described as “a singer-songwriter who performs poignant tales of modern city life,” Lilith Ai writes relatable guitar tunes exploring turbulent emotions in a humble and engaging way. She was modest, self-deprecating but incredibly warm and open to talking about all aspects of her life and art when I spoke to her about her album, Folk You Hard, earlier in the year. Loud Women also awarded her their prestigious Hercury Prize Award for the record, which is further proof she’s definitely one to watch in 2022.
(KC)


The Menstrual Cramps
Having been massive fans of raging queer punks The Menstrual Cramps since 2017’s debut album We’re Not Ovaryacting, and had the honour of hosting an epic night of them playing live for us at The Finsbury back in 2018 as well as having them as guests on our radio show, we have been wallowing in a Menstrual Cramps-less void for the last couple of years as the band were on a little hiatus. But, at the beginning of this week, just when we thought all was lost and we’d given up any hope of 2022 being better than the last two years… The Menstrual Cramps announced their return! Joining front person Emilia and drummer AJ, the band introduced two new members, Abi and Zam, and have promised new music for us. I cannot wait for more of their politically-charged, immensely empowering anthems! 
(ML)

Check out our Tracks Of 2021, Albums & EPs of 2021 and Personal Highlights now. Massive thanks to all who’ve supported GIHE this year, it really means the world. And huge thanks too to all the amazing bands and artists who’ve soundtracked it, and who will continue to soundtrack 2022!

GIHE: Personal Highlights Of 2021

2021 has been another strange year. Live music tentatively returned after multiple Covid-19 lockdowns, which meant the GIHE team were finally able to see some of our favourite bands in the flesh. The easing of restrictions also meant we were able to physically get into a studio to record our monthly Soho Radio show together! More than ever, we were grateful to feel connected – either through the internet or in real life – to our friends and followers, and that’s what our Personal Highlights of 2021 reflect.

Read below for a recap of some of our Personal Highlights of the year. Huge thanks to everyone who has supported GIHE. Love & solidarity. x

 

Team Highlight: Moving to Soho Radio

After six years of presenting our new music show on Hoxton Radio, the GIHE team were invited to move over to Soho Radio’s airwaves. They say a change is as good as a rest, and this change certainly helped to re-energise us to get back into doing what we love: fan-girling on air about our favourite music and talking to the bands and artists who create it. Noga Erez helped us launch our debut show in May, and since then we’ve spoken to BISHI, Bitch Hunt, Fears, BLAB, Maria Uzor, Grandmas House & The Log Books’ Shivani Dave. It’s a privilege to have this platform on Soho to promote women & non-binary artists, and we’re excited to bring you more radio shows with them problem pain 2022!

 

Mari Lane (Co-Founder & Managing Editor)

Interviewing Sleigh Bells

With the release of their sixth album Texis this year, genre-defying duo Sleigh Bells have been firm favourites of mine over the last decade, and have provided many personal musical memories. From dancing the night away to the immense energy of the likes of ‘Rill Rill’ or ‘Infinity Guitars’ throughout my 20s, to watching that scene of Jessica Jones on repeat, purely because of the incredible power that ‘Demons’ adds to the narrative. It was such an honour to speak to vocalist and songwriter Alexis Krauss in September about the album, her collaborative process with producer/guitarist Derek Miller, the formation of Sleigh Bells, being a woman in the industry, and her involvement with Young Women Who Crush – an amazing sounding organisation for young women and gender expansive youth from New York City public schools, inspiring them to discover the outdoors and develop their leadership skills. You can read the full interview here.

GIHE Live at The Shacklewell Arms with Problem Patterns, pink suits & GUTTS

Hosting our first gig at The Shacklewell Arms was such a joyous experience in every way. Not only was it an honour to be able to organise an event at such an esteemed venue at which I’ve spent many a night enjoying some of the best live music at, but everyone who works there was so lovely and helpful, that it made the whole experience completely stress-free. Massive shout-out to sound engineer Sofia, a total pro who is amazing at what she does!

And of course, what made the night particularly special was the bands. With GIHE having been mega fans of Northern Irish punks Problem Patterns for some time now, it was such a privilege to be able to host their first London gig. With each poignant, raging offering, the band filled the venue with their swirling, empowering energy and fierce, infectious passion, uniting the crowd with both their righteous anger and vibrant, joyous sense of fun. With the captivating, riotous force of queer Margate duo pink suits, and the angst-driven ‘sax punk’ of opening band GUTTS too, it really was a dream of a night and I’m so grateful it was able to go ahead. You can check out pics of the event here.

Talking to The Independent about Women’s Safety at Gigs & Festivals

Kate and I spoke to Elizabeth Aubrey for a feature in The Independent about the need to make music events safer spaces for women, girls and the LGBTQ+ community. A topic we feel extremely strongly about. We discussed our zero tolerance policy to sexual assault and harassment at our events, and measures we put in place at our gigs to try and ensure the safest possible environment for all. It was also the first time I’ve really properly talked about the experience of having my drink spiked whilst at university in Leeds – the issue of women and girls being spiked sadly being something that seems particularly prevalent at the moment.

I was really grateful to be given the opportunity to speak to Elizabeth about such an important issue and hope that, with an increased awareness in the public eye, more ‘active bystanders’ and with more women, girls and LGBTQIA+ folk feeling safe enough to speak out, more can start being done by the industry as a whole to put a stop to instances of abuse or harassment, and to provide the safest possible spaces. You can read the full feature here.

Interviewing Celeste Bell (Poly Styrene’s daughter)

With the release of the documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché this year, we were lucky enough to talk to Celeste Bell – Poly’s daughter and co-director of the film, along with Paul Sng – about the inspirations behind the film, her relationship with her mother and the sexism that still prevails in the music industry. Based around a wonderful book by Zoë Howe, Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story, the film chronicles Poly’s remarkable and often troubled life, including never-seen-before footage of her, telling her moving story predominantly through the eyes of her daughter.

In addition to discussing the film, it was interesting to speak to Celeste about how far the industry and society’s attitudes towards women still have to go, and the urgent need to revive some of Poly’s punk spirit. To unite, overcome adversity and bring about change, we could all do with being a bit more like her, to start to undo the bondage that binds us into this patriarchal society. As Poly says: “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!”. Read the full interview with Celeste here.

Honourable Mention: Ezra Furman

I thought I’d also give an honourable mention to Ezra Furman, who came out as a Transgender woman earlier this year and shared beautiful images of herself with her child. As Furman poignantly states in her coming out message: “I’m telling you I’m a mom now for a specific reason. Because one problem with being trans is that we have so few visions of what it can look like to have an adult life, to grow up and be happy and not die young. When our baby was born I had approximately zero examples that I had seen of trans women raising children. So here’s one for anyone who wants to see one. I’m a trans woman and a mom. This is possible.”

 

Kate Crudgington (Co-Founder & Features Editor)

Chatting to Cool Thing Records on Soho Radio about GIHE

I’ve been following Southend indie label Cool Thing Records since my Gigslutz days, so when Luke invited me on to their Soho Radio show (Cool Thing Presents) to chat about my experience as a DIY music journalist, I was genuinely chuffed. I loved reminiscing with him about landmark musical moments in my life and how we came to launch GIHE. I also managed to wedge in an impersonation of Eastenders’ Nick Cotton into our chat, which you can listen to in full here.

The Cool Thing team have supported GIHE in everything we do, and we naturally support them back. Their roster is bursting with talent – from BLAB, Mai and Beckie Margaret, to Asylums, Suspects, BAIT and The Horse Heads – I’m constantly impressed and excited to hear their new releases. There’s an immense amount of passion, commitment and empathy behind everything they do, and I look forward to working with them throughout 2022.

My first gig after Covid-19 & our first GIHE gig of 2021

When I walked in to Electrowerkz to see DROWND – aka my brother Joe – play his first gig of 2021 in August, I was tanked up on Gin & Tonic because I was nervous to be doing something “normal” for the first time in over a year. Despite my anxieties, within minutes of the gig starting, my mind blocked out any Covid-19 paraphernalia; it just let the intense, heavy sounds blasting out of the speakers spread through my cells. It was fucking brilliant. I didn’t want the night to end.

I had a similar sensation watching Schande and CURRLS perform at our first GIHE gig of 2021 at The Victoria a few months later in November. I watched from a distance as Mari worked the room, ensuring the bands and everyone who was attending felt safe and valued. 2022 is looking like another dodgy year for live music, but I hope we’ll get to attend and organise more gigs like this at some point soon.

Talking to NME about Women’s Safety at Gigs

With the return of live music, unfortunately, came the return of the all-to-familiar reports of sexual harassment and assault at gigs and festivals. It’s something we have experienced first hand at GIHE, and we know many of our friends and followers have also lived through these grim and debilitating experiences. That’s why we feel it’s important to push forward with our own policies at events to keep women & non-binary people safe, and to keep the conversations about women’s safety in the public eye.

Mari & I spoke to NME journalist Charlotte Krol about this and how we think things can be improved earlier this year. You can read the full feature here.

Favourite Interviews of 2021

One of the main things that’s kept me going this year are the conversations I’ve had with bands and artists about the music they make. It’s such a privilege to have access to someone’s creative processes, and I am humbled every time an artist shares their own thoughts and influences with me. I also love it when bands consistently crack jokes about how bored they are of hearing their own music, like Cork art-punks Pretty Happy did when I spoke to them back in September.

My conversations with Circe, Nadia Javed, Breakup Haircut, Sian O’Gorman (NYX Choir), Lilith AI, Softcult, Nova TwinsBleach Lab and Divide & Dissolve all left a lasting impression on me in 2021.

 

Victoria Conway (GIHE Contributor)

Helen Love @ Sheffield Pop Weekender Sidney and Matilda (first gig after lockdown)

I’m not sure if this was my first gig after lockdown, but, woah, it was the most memorable. After over 18 months without live music, Helen Love took me back, headfirst and in glorious technicolour. They fired up the drum machine and powered through a set of glitter-fuelled bubblegum punk pop with swagger and smiles. The legendary Ms. Love, still looking badass after fronting the band for almost 30 years, stood in front of a dizzying video collage and blasted out the hits to a crowd who roared their appreciation by shouting along to every word. ‘Does your heart go booooom?’ was a standout; it was the musical equivalent of someone shaking up a can of Monster Energy and letting it spray absolutely everywhere. I’m talking pure, giddy caffeinated joy! It was beautiful to reunite with a band I’ve loved for over half my life, and to do it on a dancefloor packed with much-missed gig buddies.

Thanks for everything folks. We’ll see you in 2022!