FIVE FAVOURITES: Grace Savage

Grace Savage is a four-time UK beat-box champion turned electro-pop artist. With her ability to produce catchy beats and write witty relatable lyrical content, her live shows are an impressive spectacle; and her performance at Loud Women Festival last year made a mark in our musical memory. She’s set to release her new EP Cracks on 17th May and will pre-empt the launch with a headline show at Bermondsey Social Club on 15th May (tickets available here).

We caught up with Grace to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to her single ‘Snowflake’ at the end of this post.

Amy Winehouse – Frank
I heard this album for the first time when I was 14, hanging out in my friend’s bedroom. I instantly fell in love and knew this woman was something special. The tone of her voice, the sensitivity and intelligence of the lyrics, the infectious melodies..I didn’t know much about music technically at the time, but I just felt the soul of this album to my core and I still listen to it today as much as I did back then.

I learned the song ‘Fuck Me Pumps’ on the guitar and it was the first song I ever sang in front of another human being. It was a producer who’d seen me beatbox in a talent competition, and then invited me to her studio; she asked me to sing something for her and I was absolutely terrified. I sang Amy’s song and she must’ve seen something in me because we then worked together as a songwriting partnership for four years. So this album will always have a special place in my heart.

P!nk – Can’t Take Me Home
I cannot even begin to explain the level of obsession I had with P!nk as a young girl. Posters on the bedroom wall, dyed my hair pink at 13, got my tongue pierced at 15, my email address for most of my teenage years was pink_b!tch@hotmail.com – it was a LOT. She was this bad ass lady with bright pink hair and so much attitude and I just wanted to be everything she was. She was a great role model for me as a young girl who didn’t fit in with the ”girly girls” and this album (although when I listen to it now sounds SO dated) was a big part of my teenage years. I’ve followed her career ever since and I’m seeing her live for the first time this summer….I think I might explode with nostalgia and happiness.

Nirvana – Nevermind
This album inspired me to learn the guitar. I went through the classic “grunge girl” stage for about a year (black nails, big nose ring, nirvana hoodies, eye liner, really bad skate boarding) and it was all heavily influenced by this album and Kurt Cobain’s genius. I was always such a hip hop head/r&b and pop music girl, but something about Nirvana really got me. The guitar riffs, the husky tone of his voice, the weird lyrics and the “don’t give a f***” attitude of the whole band was really refreshing against the shiny manufactured pop bands I was exposed to in the 90’s and early 00’s. This album introduced me to a different kind of music and really let me indulge my emo side.

Ms Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Ahhh it was so close between Lauryn and Missy Elliot because both had a huge impact on me growing up, but seeing as this is about ALBUMS and not ARTISTS… I had to choose this one. I remember I was about 14/15 and my mate said he bought this album and didn’t like it so he gave it to me to try. I’m so glad he did, because BOOYYY it is ICONIC! I fell in love with her voice watching Sister Act and I fell in love with this album the moment I heard it. Triple threat: singer, rapper, writer. There were really no other artists around like her at the time and her voice is unparalleled in my opinion. I still can’t think of anyone who sings, writes and raps as fluently and excellently as she does. She is one of a kind. I saw her perform the 20 year anniversary of this album in London last year and it was a beautiful experience.

BANKS – Goddess
This is the only “modern” album on my list but no less impactful and meaningful to my life. This is my break up album. I must have listened to it and cried to it and ran to it and danced to it and slept to it and then cried some more to it almost every day for about a year. When it came out, the production was like nothing I’d ever heard before and her lyrics and tone were so unique and dark and sexy, I was immediately like “WOAH” who is this girl? I’ve seen her live a few times now and she never fails to disappoint. ‘Waiting Game’ and ‘Brain’ still continue to be some of my favourite songs in existence – the slow driving kick drum, the long builds throughout the whole song, the deep driving synths and the tribal feel to her vocals drenched in reverb. Beaut. Thanks for getting me over the worst break up of my life. I owe you one BANKS!

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

VIDEO PREMIERE: Valeska Rautenberg – ‘Berliner Morgen’

Berlin based musician Valeska Rautenberg has shared visuals for her new track ‘Berliner Morgen’ and they’re as cinematic as the soundscape that accompanies it. Taken from her most recent EP Veins: Songs for Piano, Wind & Water, the single is one of four songs that form a collection of “memories, favorite places, and forgotten tales” for the artist.

Valeska’s ambient soundscapes and minimal piano music takes listeners on a journey through her hometown, experiencing and concentrating on thoughts and feelings both she and the listener may not have noticed before. Speaking about her new music, she explains: “Sometimes there’s no need for words. You can let the wind whisper, the water roar, the birds talk, and the streets of Berlin tell their stories”.

‘Berliner Morgen’ in particular captures the beauty and solitude of a walk through Berlin at 5.30 in the morning. Valeska extrapolates: “Imagine coming out of a club (possibly slightly drunk) into the peaceful Berlin drenched in blue. With your blurry night-tainted vision you hardly see the dirt, only the serenity and sweet melancholy of the big B”.

Watch the video for Valeska’s new track below and listen to the Veins EP in its entirety here.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: ESYA – ‘Nothing’

One of the most talented and easily recognisable bass players of recent times, Ayşe Hassan has shared her latest single ‘Nothing’ under new moniker ESYA. Having played in Savages, Kite Base​ and 180db, the musician has embarked on a new solo project designed to delve in to the obscure and absurd nature of life.

Taken from her upcoming EP ​Absurdity of ATCG (I) which is set for release on 24th May, ‘Nothing’ is driven by Hassan​’s trademark thunderous bass lines. It’s been described as “an existential industrial pop exploration” acknowledging and grieving the “profound impact of our relationships, choices and experience”. Both musically and vocally, EYSA’s music is an intense and brooding affair; propelled by a marked urgency to tell the truth.

The new EP is the second in a series of ESYA’s self-released works exploring the “myriad manifestations of selfhood through a whirlwind of FM and analog synths, drum machines and vocals”. Incorporating sounds and visuals recorded at significant points throughout the last year – and with the record taking it’s name from the building blocks in human DNA – ESYA is delving in to transgressive audio visual territory and we can’t wait to hear more.

Listen to ‘Nothing’ below and catch ESYA live at her EP launch at The Glove That Fits on 30th May (tickets here).

Photo Credit: Chiara Ceccaioni

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

WATCH: Thallo – ‘I dy Boced’

Gentle, soothing sounds and startling visuals come together on ‘I Dy Boced’, the latest release from Welsh artist Thallo. Premiered on Welsh blog Y.Selar last week, the songwriter’s talent for creating sounds that are easy on the ear shines through on her new single.

Roughly translated as ‘In Your Pocket’, Thallo’s new song is a fusion of archaic lore and personal experience, mixing elements of jazz, folk and electronica. Accompanied by a six-piece band and their celestial instrumentation, Thallo sings her pretty lyrics in both the Welsh and English language.

“Described as “a paradoxically bittersweet rose-tinted fantasy” ‘I Dy Boced’ is an intriguing release from an intriguing newcomer. Watch the video for the single below, and follow Thallo on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: Jackie Mendoza

Born and raised in the border city of Chula Vista, California, Jackie Mendoza blends the cultural influences of her hometown and her motherland of Tijuana, Mexico, creating eccentric pop, Latin-driven dance beats, and vibrant soundscapes. She’s just released her debut EP LuvHz via Luminelle Recordings; a 6-track exploration of love and relationships.

We caught up with Jackie to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to her single ‘Mucho Mas’ at the end of this post.

1. Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise
It was hard to narrow my list down to 5 favorites but these are some albums with the most spins. It was funny to find that most of these are from 2009-2011…which reaffirms how impressionable I was in my late teens and how these albums paved a way for my own music. My older sister showed me this album when I was a senior in high school and learning how to drive. I blasted this album the first time I was allowed to take the car out by myself. This is an album I connected with 5 seconds after listening to it. The sound was so interesting to me and unlike anything I had heard before. It incorporates pop elements into experimental electronica and never seizes to include the Latin influence; everything I love in one big sound.

2. Air – Talkie Walkie
I used to do my homework to this album while I was in middle school. I wanted to cover the song ‘Surfing on a Rocket’ and make it my own. Before Garage Band and Ableton, I had to download programs from questionable websites if I wanted to overdub my vocals on top of a track. This album sparked my imagination to think about producing and writing music because I wanted to sound just like Air.

3. Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
This album really helped me get through a lot of teen angst. I went through stages of depression in high school and while I had to take antidepressants, this album was a big help too. I felt understood and helped me appreciate solitude.

4. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
This is another album I would play through and not skip a single song. Like Air, Animal Collective is another band that sparked my interest in producing music. The vocal harmonies, abstract lyrics, and experimental instrumentation stuck with me and I’m still inspired by it today. This album reminds me of summer in San Diego. I’m really lucky I had the opportunity to work with their producer, Rusty Santos. Working with him was really enriching and felt almost effortless.

5. Carla Morrison – Mientras tú Dormías
I hadn’t thought about singing in Spanish until I heard this album. I saw many commonalities in Carla’s music; ukulele, soft vocals, and electronic sounds. Hearing her music encouraged me to write in Spanish and to not be afraid to write love songs.

Photo Credit: Tayo Okyekan

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: After London – ‘Do You Want Another World?’

A brooding new offering that laments the struggle between what you have and what you could have if you tried something new; After London have shared their latest single ‘Do You Want Another World?’. Released via Roadkill Records, the London alt-rockers have created something that’s garnered comparisons to early Wolf Alice.

Vocalist Frankie Ward’s range is showcased wonderfully on the new single, backed by atmospheric guitar and bass riffs provided by her brothers Will and Bryon. Drummer Jake Palmer and violinist Alex Tiffany complete the line-up, and together the five piece build a melodic soundscape incorporating all of their musical elements fluidly.

Speaking about the track, Frankie explains: “Sonically, we wanted to create a landscape that had groove and relief in its verse, which would then hit a wall of sound and noise in the chorus. In a way, the music reflects the choice between tearing something up and starting over or trying to make the best of what you have.”

Listen to ‘Do You Want Another World?’ below and follow After London on Facebook for more updates.

Photo credit: Keira Cullinane

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut