Track Of The Day: Dronningen – ‘Superstardom’

London-based Italians, Beatrice Bonnano (vocals/guitar) and Vito Cerasia (lead guitar), formed Dronningen (meaning Queen in Norwegian) in 2014 and have been gigging on the London scene for a number of years. They’ve released three EPs thus far and in a live setting originally possessed a grunge-inspired rock vibe with pop undertones. Having re-jigged their band line-up they have metamorphosed into an electro-tinged rock beast – their live set-up now streamlined to a three-piece with beloved session drummer, Alberto Voglino. 

Their new single takes off like a rocket, as per the opening line, and is a super-charged anthem of drone attack buzzy guitars and synth bass rhythms the size of a cruise liner. ‘Superstardom’ kicks up a gear as the kaleidoscopic chorus bursts into the room, riding high on a bed of warm layered vocals. This lot aren’t taking any prisoners. Is this rock, pop or dance music? Who cares when it sounds this fresh!  

Discussing their new single, the band explain: “‘Superstardom’ is a song about fighting self-sabotage… It’s about reaching a flourishing state after working towards fulfilling your goals, without inhibitions. We feel this song is highly relatable to many in a society where you’re made to feel like you’re never good enough. Ultimately, our message is this: just focus on doing your thing and do it well for yourself, filter out all the background noise and pressure”.

Starved of performing live during lockdown, the band were afforded a moment of clarity and space to invest in creativity. They took to writing new material and Vito grappled with self-teaching himself video production, which bore fruit in the shape of the technical wizardry that is the music clip for January’s ‘Theatrical Love’ single. 

On the recent Italian election win of Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party, Beatrice and Vito voice their concern: We hope that the victory of politicians who won the general election by stoking hatred and using inflammatory rhetoric will not be interpreted by some as a free pass to attack minorities or whoever they think is the enemy. There can be no going back over hard-won rights, such as abortion, same-sex unions and basic support for asylum seekers. Nobody wants to live in a Margaret Atwood novel. We deeply love our home country so we hope for the best.” 

Speaking of subjects which the band have far more control over, they confide: “Our plan for next year is releasing more music, more live shows and, most importantly, we have a debut album on the horizon”. As the band say: “Your life is now. Your time to thrive is now”.

Dronningen will be headlining The Victoria in Dalston, London on Saturday, 12th November – free tickets are available on Dice. Hear more from Dronningen on their Bandcamp page.

Mandy Bang

Get In Her Ears Live @ The Victoria w/ Jemma Freeman and the Cosmic Something, 14.10.22

Following September’s gig at The Shacklewell Arms with the driving ethereal soundscapes of Gemma Cullingford, our October installment of GIHE live saw us return to The Victoria in Dalston for what felt like a super special night filled with the best music, best people and best vibes. Massive thanks to Jemma Freeman and the Cosmic Something, KIN and Trouble Wanted, and to everyone who came down to pack out the venue and helped make it a night to remember.

Here, Mandy Bang writes a few words about the night to accompany Jon Mo’s fantastic pics…

It’s Friday night and The Victoria is packed – a glass smashes on the dancefloor and is carefully kicked aside by revellers determined to have a good time. Tonight’s opening band conjure a murky dive bar on the wrong side of the tracks: the saloon doors unexpectedly swing open, everyone turns to look up at the new arrivals, jaws drop, gasps are audible… there’s a new stranger in town – Trouble Wanted.

The London-based five-piece have just one song available on their Bandcamp page, but, when it’s the “sexy, queer exchange between Lonely Cowgirl and a mysterious dyke trucker”, it’s one hell of a special treat. Live, Trouble Wanted blend menacing basslines, dreamy guitar touches, dancing drums, sexy synths and the occasional burst of alluring saxophone with semi-spoken vocals. Lucy sings of unrequited lust and dysfunctional mother/child relationships and pistol-whips songs with loaded humour. By the end of their set they have encouraged the whole room to shake off their inhibitions as we all sing “I want you in my bed” with wild abandon!

Tonight is Ritu Arya’s last gig with KIN, who played their second ever show for GIHE back in 2019. The band dedicate the drummer’s favourite song to her and later in their set proceed to initiate their first crowd sing-along during a cover of Wheatus’ ‘Teenage Dirtbag’.

The release of the trio’s new single, ‘Soapdish’, coincides with tonight’s gig and is a melancholy ramble through a relationship that is better to be left behind, as singer/keyboardist Grace asserts, “I’m not going to change my mind”. In amongst KIN’s atmospheric indie pop, there are sparse guitar echoes which momentarily bring to mind unexpected eerie Bauhaus vibes. Meanwhile, their 2020 single, ‘L.O.V.E.’, possesses the kind of upbeat energy that demands to drive us to sunny days spent dancing on a beach somewhere far out of reach.

Our final act of the night is Jemma Freeman and The Cosmic Something and Jemma’s party look this evening is demonic jester with a touch of Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke fame. The trio put on a frantic display of musicianship with psychedelic and garage rock leanings, skipping from one catchy song into the next which throws the audience into an array of shapes.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to know”, declares Jemma before shredding so enthusiastically a guitar string breaks. Jemma conducts the quickest string change ever carried out by a musician mid-set, whilst the bassist and drummer keep an impressive backbeat flowing. One gets the impression that this rhythm section could quite happily lay down a two-hour instrumental jam as if performing at a ’70s music festival. Jemma, seemingly impressed by said bandmates’ calm professionalism, exclaims, “I don’t really need to be here“.

Jemma’s in-between song banter hints at a vulnerable front person with an awkward confidence. Lyrics are laced with self-deprecating humour and a composition from the band’s upcoming new album, ‘Miffed’, is a tale of a bad Tinder date that involved getting locked in a park – “Sounds exciting, but it’s not good”, they assure us before dedicating ‘Lump’ to “weird and petty gay people – like me!”.

Rather than the rallying ‘girls to the front’ mantra, Jemma encourages each audience member to look behind them and to move aside if those behind are struggling to see the band bathed in orange, green and blue lighting. I’ve only ever been at one other gig where the band has been this wonderfully thoughtful (namely Dream Wife) and Jemma half-jokes that it took ten years of therapy to ascertain: “I’m five-foot two-inches tall and I’m going to take up space and be unafraid“. A sentiment that gets a huge cheer from this crowd.

Big thanks to all three of the incredibly fantastic bands on Friday night! As for us, our next gig will be at the Sebright Arms next month with a lush line-up of Breakup Haircut, Piney Gir and BCOS RSNS on 17th November. Tickets can be nabbed over on Dice and we’ll see you down the front!

Words: Mandy Bang / @mandybang
Photos: Jon Mo / @jonmophotography

Track Of The Day: Yanna A – ‘Vigilant’ / ‘Lift Me Up’

The opening 30 seconds of ‘Vigilant‘ has me waiting for the explosion of a techno-flavoured dancefloor banger. But prepare to be surprised as Yanna A throws listeners off guard and veers into a haunting vocal breakdown ahead of expansive instrumentation flowing to the forefront. Before we even have a chance to appraise what we’re listening to, the outro kicks in, hastily covering its tracks and driving off in a completely different direction.

Inspired by Grimes, FKA Twigs, Eartheater and Little Simz, ‘Vigilant’ has a contemporary electro feel and clocks in at under two and a half minutes. Perfect music for those whose attention is easily diverted and want something fresh constantly assaulting their senses, as it really does feel like three songs rolled into one. 

Speaking of the double A-side single, Yanna says, “The concept of ‘Vigilant’ was initially about general anxiety, as well as the comedown of it on ‘Lift Me Up’. But looking back now, I think this was a real expression of how I was feeling during the COVID pandemic, as all my flatmates had gone back home and I was basically stuck in a house alone for five months… People actually ran away from me in supermarket aisles and on park pathways! It got bad and I was on beta blockers for panic attacks. London was truly a ghost town.”

Flipside, ‘Lift Me Up‘, is classic Yanna A, with a nod to Smashing Pumpkins and Kristin Hersh. Vulnerable lyrics sing tenderly of recovering from sorrow and the journey of coming out the other side, having reached acceptance and grown from the experience. All of this is set to a beautiful acoustic guitar backdrop which builds with elevating vocal harmonies into searing reverb and gunshot beats.

A gloriously uplifting song indeed and the perfect tonic for life’s woes. Yanna says, “The song really just breathed from me without much thought! I think, after so much of that anxiety, I was really looking for solace and peace in my spirituality. I believe in nature as my higher power and I tend to follow the natural cycles, so this song was a response to that. After all the chaos and fear comes calm and clarity, always. We, as living beings, are in cycles and learning to trust those cycles and processes are important to me“.

You can download Yanna A’s music from Bandcamp and find out about her upcoming releases on Facebook and Instagram. ‘Vigilant’ and ‘Lift Me Up’ were mixed by Joe Futak

Mandy Bang