LIVE: Grace Petrie @ Stanley Arts, 12.11.2021

Having initially bought tickets to see Grace Petrie back in May 2020, it was with great excitement that I finally got to witness her politically-charged, yet beautifully uplifting, folk anthems live on 12th November. And it was with even more excitement that, having been a Croydon resident for over three years now, I was able to attend an event at charming local venue Stanley Arts (formally Stanley Halls), just down the road in South Norwood. As a South London resident, it made a particularly nice change to be able to walk to and from a gig, when normally I have to brave various modes of public transport to venture across to the other side of the city…

And the venue seems to suit Grace Petrie’s understated, yet strident, charm perfectly. Sitting in the picturesque old community hall (that now strives to be a completely inclusive space with a focus on hosting LGBTQIA+ creatives and artists of colour), as Petrie introduces us to her “songs of social justice”, a refreshing sense of togetherness seems to unite the crowd and she’s greeted with cheers for the first song of the set – ‘Farewell To Welfare’; one she says that she used to end with, but has now decided to open with as “if that wasn’t politically up your street, the rest of the gig is not for you!” And she’s right; this particularly resonant offering, this longing for a socialist revolution, continues throughout the set, and it’s right up my street – both politically, and musically. 

Continuing with an emotive track from 2017’s Heart First Aid Kit, ‘Coldwaterproofjacket’, Petrie invites us all to sing along to the catchy chorus, and we joyfully oblige; accompanying her own exquisite, rich vocals and lilting melodies to this beautifully heartwarming ballad. And the endearing, friendly vibes continue as Petrie introduces us to multi-instrumentalist Ben Moss, who is not only her musical partner, but was unintentionally her housemate for 6 months during the first of last year’s lockdowns – “We’ve come out of it much closer than we were, there’s not many people I could spend six months locked in a house with. But we got through it!” (in fact she seems to be so fond of him, and in awe of his talents, that later in the set she shares that she has considered setting up a crowdfunder to clone him…) 

It was during this first lockdown that Grace Petrie wrote her latest album, Connectivity – a poignant collection of tracks reflecting on our connection to, and unity with, other people to keep us going through hard times. Taken from this album, Grace introduces ‘Storm To Weather’ as being for “us storm-battered socialists who don’t know when this hurricane is going to stop…” A stirring sentiment oozing an empowering message of solidarity and resilience and, as we all join in with heartfelt gusto to the mainline of the chorus “I will love you forever and we’ll dance again next year”, I feel an overpowering raw emotion, heeding this political call to arms to keep going; to keep fighting for change, for better times…

Following the twinkling grace of ‘Ivy’, a song dedicated to Petrie’s niece who came into the world during Glastonbury 2014 – thankfully after Dolly Parton’s set (which I too was lucky enough to witness!), there’s another offering from the new album. A moving reflection on the confused headspace that can come from mixed messages and unrequited feelings, ‘The Last Man On Earth’ showcases Ben Moss’ immense musical skill as he switches between banjo and fiddle, alongside Petrie’s immersive crystalline charm; poignantly juxtaposing the raw emotion of its heartfelt sentiment with a refreshingly joyous musicality and instantly catchy energy. 

Taking a brief interlude from her own songs, Petrie then hands over to Moss to take centre stage as we’re treated to one of his own, solo offerings – the chiming traditional folk sounds of ‘Bold Reynard’, a lilting ode to the “modern day fox”. 

Resuming her unifying, politically-driven passion, Petrie introduces 2017’s ‘God Save The Hungry’ as an “alternative national anthem” – clarifying that, although God may not be her thing, if he was then surely there are more worthy people in need of saving than the Queen. As she sings with a fervent emotion – “God save the hungry, God save the poor, God save those desperate souls whose lives are torn apart by war. God save the homeless and those with disabilities, and all the other targets of this heartless ideology.” – I’m struck by this extremely pertinent sentiment, once again showcasing Petrie’s knack for combining resonant, necessary themes with an utterly unique, shimmering musicality. 

Reviving our appreciation of Ben Moss, we’re then reminded of a project that he and Petrie worked on together throughout lockdown. Recording a rendition of a song beginning with each of the 26 letters of the alphabet each day, the two of them united with fans at a time when small pleasures were especially important; bringing a little joy into our locked-down lives, connecting us to each other, with each of these covers, and in the process raising money for The Big Issue. Petrie explains that on each of their gigs on the current tour, they’ve been picking out of a hat which one of these covers to play, and “hope it’s not ‘Xanadoo‘”… We end up with V and so ‘Venus’ it is – a fun-filled, folk-tinged rendition of the classic ‘80s hit – such a special rendition in fact, that we forgive Grace for forgetting some of the words.

Following the rousing, heartfelt emotion of the beautifully accordion-accompanied ‘Some Days Are Worse Than Others’,  Petrie explains that the reason she is dressed so smartly is not actually because she has a snooker match after the gig, but to convey the message of the next song – the poignant and empowering ‘Black Tie’. Addressing the damaging effects of enforced gender norms, it was written as a message of hope to Grace’s younger self, and to those like her – she explains that as an unhappy teenager, she had to deal with society telling her she was wrong, but today she is proud to be a butch lesbian: “I turned 30 and instantly stopped giving a fuck.” Tonight, Petrie dedicates the song to all her trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming siblings, and urges us all to protest transphobia at this time when it is more important than ever to stand together and protect each other against those who are seeking to oppress us. And, as we all sing along to the lyrics “and the images that fucked you were a patriarchal structure, and you never will surrender to a narrow view of gender…”, I feel an overwhelming sense of unity, a fierce determination to be the best ally I can possibly be and stand with my trans siblings, today and every day. Because trans rights are human rights, trans women are women and trans men are men. Non-binary people are valid. And every single one of us, whatever gender, race or nationality we may be, deserve equal rights, safety and joy.

Following an enlivening call and response crowd participation for Queer As Folk’s ‘Northbound’, Petrie returns for a welcome encore with the closing track of her latest album, ‘The Losing Side’, for all her comrades – “If I’ve spent my life on the losing side, you can lay me down knowing that I’ve tried.” A stirring way to end the set, leaving us with a poignant sense of hope and unity. A sense of joy at finding solidarity in each other, and a determination not to give up in the face of adversity.

So, thank you to Grace Petrie (and Ben!) for such a lovely evening. A perfectly cathartic experience in these strange times, reminding me of the connection that music can bring, offering a comforting message of solidarity and resilience at a time when we need it the most.

Plus, I got to be home and in bed by 11pm! 

Listen to/buy Grace Petrie’s latest album, Connectivity, now. And read a recent interview with her on Get In Her Ears here.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Introducing Interview: Dyan Valdés

Having been involved in the music industry for twenty years, Berlin-based Cuban-American artist Dyan Valdés has played in esteemed bands such as The Blood Arm and Die Sterne, and has now released her first solo material. Taken from her upcoming debut solo album, ‘Fade Away’ offers an immersive shimmering soundscape; propelled by layers of synth and driving beats alongside Valdés’ luscious vocals, it’s a poignant, twinkling message of hope at a time when things can feel hopeless.

We caught up with Dyan to find out more…

Hi Dyan Valdés, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! Thanks for having me. I’m a music industry lifer – I got together with my first band, indie rockers The Blood Arm when we were at university in 2002. After releasing five albums and two EPs, touring the world and moving to Berlin together, we went on hiatus in 2017. The singer and I formed the synth punk trio Mexican Radio in 2017, and released another two albums under that name. The band hosted a radio show on KCRW Berlin for 2 years, in which I interviewed artists such as Stereo Total, Sleaford Mods, Ian Svenonius, Allison Wolfe of Bratmobile, and many more. I’ve been playing with Hamburger Schule legends Die Sterne since 2012. ‘Fade Away’ is my debut single as a solo artist and Stand will be my first solo album.

How did you initially start creating music?
I never thought I would make my own solo music – I’ve always been a supporting player, co-writing the music and singing backing vocals. But, the pandemic changed things. At the beginning of the first lockdown, I was attacked by a strange man in broad daylight on the streets of Berlin. I recognised that my already precarious safety as a woman was even more threatened by pandemic circumstances. I arrived home, overwhelmed by my experience and by reports of increased domestic violence and the exploitation of female labour at the frontlines of the pandemic. I wrote and recorded the protest song ‘Stand’ that weekend – feeling that I needed to create something that would make me feel powerful again. This was the first time I had created a piece entirely on my own. After cancelled tours and rehearsals, I was alone in my home studio and could not fall back on my bandmates to provide a creative outlet. I stepped up and did it myself.

Throughout my music career, I have often been the only woman in the room. When I was attacked, I felt alienated and alone. I realised that on some level, I’ve felt the same way in the music industry for years – moving through spaces that are not designed to fit my body, protect my safety, or elevate my voice. What would our industry and our art look like if this model were flipped on its head? In order for the process of this album to line up with the sentiment, I employed women at every level of the project: production, artwork, video, photography, PR, styling, and marketing. 

We really love your recent single ‘Fade Away’ – can you tell us what it’s all about?
‘Fade Away’ is about looking around and saying to yourself “this isn’t good enough”, and dreaming that someday you’ll find yourself in a situation that is. I imagined this feeling of being locked in a house – either by someone else or by myself – and wanting the ceilings and walls to just disappear so that I could be free. The song is sad but hopeful – the “different day” hasn’t come yet, but I believe that it will. I dedicate the song to anyone who has ever felt trapped, marginalized or silenced. The song came to me extremely quickly – I wrote all of the lyrics, melodies and music and then recorded the basic tracks at home within about four hours from start to finish. I felt like the words and music just came through me from a place where they had already been written.

You’ve been compared to the likes of PJ Harvey and Bat For Lashes, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Probably my life-long biggest influence is David Bowie, who was never afraid to take big swings and explore all kinds of different directions. I thought about him a lot when making this record, just in terms of pushing myself to take risks. PJ Harvey is also a big influence, as is Stevie Nicks, Kate Bush, Peaches, Courtney Love and Tori Amos (obviously – I’m a keyboard player!) I was also very influenced by books that I was reading while writing this record. I’ve been a proud feminist my whole life, but while working on the album I really did a deep-dive into a lot of feminist writing. That helped me sharpen the messages that I wanted to deliver: who benefits from the oppression of and violence against women? How is capitalist society complicit? How am I complicit? I did a lot of self-examination on this record, and I hope that comes across.

What can fans expect from your live shows?
Since I’ve been playing in bands for nearly 20 years, I wanted to do something different with my solo show. Instead of hiding behind my keyboard, I’m challenging myself to be a real pop diva and sing and dance throughout the show. I have two backing dancers with me, and one of my producers Maya Postepski (who releases music under the name Princess Century and plays drums with Peaches), will be playing drums on stage. It will be a high-energy rousing pop spectacle!

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
Sadly, I usually discover new bands by happening upon them live, which hasn’t been possible in the last year and a half. However, when I was hosting the radio show, I had the pleasure of discovering a lot of new and exciting bands: Sweeping Promises, Big Joanie, Special Interest, Automatic and Surfbort were a few of my favourite discoveries.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
When I started, my band The Blood Arm was part of the last generation of bands that really had the “get signed, get an advance, get label support for touring and PR” trajectory. It’s very different now – in some ways, you have more direct access to fans, but because everyone else does too, you have to find a way to stand out. I think the difference is now I’m not trying to get “label attention”, but rather to reach out directly to the fans. If new artists can manage to make a direct connection with people who like their music, that can be very powerful.

Finally, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for you?
Now that live music is opening up again, I’m touring a lot with my German band Die Sterne and doing some recording with them as well. Following ‘Fade Away’, I’ve just released a second single, ‘Be My Revolution’. There will be a third single (‘Irregular’) in January and the album Stand will come out in February. We are also choreographing and developing the live show, so it will be a busy time! But, after such a lull in the industry, I’m excited to get back on stage and even more excited to share my solo music with the world.

Massive thanks to Dyan for answering our questions!

Stand, the debut solo album from Dyan Valdés, is set for release on 11th February 2022 via R.I.P Ben Lee Records.

WATCH: CRISP&CLASSY – ‘Boom Bay’

Having released their fantastic debut album XTRA CRISPY last month, Feminist LGBTQIA+ electro-pop duo CRISP&CLASSY (aka producer Kat Knix and singer-songwriter Plushy) pride themselves on bringing sexual liberation and self-acceptance to the UK pop scene. Following the release of the euphoric single ‘Boom Bay‘ earlier this year, the duo have now shared a vibrant new video to accompany the track.

Exuding a colourful queer joy and blissful sassy splendour, the playful, fun-filled visuals are the perfect accompaniment to the track’s sensuous, soulful drive and its uplifting, empowering lyricism. A wonderful celebration of self-love and our connection with each other, it’s just what you need to start off the weekend – a truly liberating treat for the eyes and ears that’ll exhilarate and inspire.

Of the new video, CRISP&CLASSY tell us:

We are so excited to share our first music video with the world. This is a music video sponsored by our fans and made for our fans!

We had the absolute honour to work on this project with incredibly talented director Leo Lebeau and stunningly gifted producer James Bell. They have inspired us and milked the best out of us in this video. More iconic artists who worked on this project are stylist Tudor Covaciu, MUA Alberto Papparotto, wig styling by StyledByVodka and more wigs by Manwigs, drag artist Polka Dot, intersex model Deanna Jade.

The storyline follows us on a sexy journey, surrounded by a community of LGBTQIA+ performers. This is how we’ve always wanted our fans to see the CRISP&CLASSY World. Empowering women, non binary people, and the LGBTQIA+ community has always been our mission statement, and was important to include in this video, and our future work.  We love giving our audience a gender and genre bending experience, inviting them to a safe space where everyone can feel safe and seen.

We really enjoyed shooting this project and we love everyone who was there on set and in spirit with us from a far. We love u!”

Watch the new video for ‘Boom Bay’ here:

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Track Of The Day: Queen Cult – ‘A Song About Consent’

Following acclaim from the likes of BBC Introducing for their debut single ‘Shindigger‘, and support for explosive recent offering ‘Show & Tell‘, Cheshire band Queen Cult have been fast making a name for themselves. 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, having recently pulled out of Hit The North festival due to allegations against promoter SSD Concerts, their dedication to smashing the patriarchy and standing up for what’s right remains steadfast and unwavering.

With a gritty, seething energy, brand new single ‘A Song About Consent‘ offers an all-too-resonant message about the challenges women and girls have to face every day in the face of the male gaze. With an impassioned, angst-driven power, it’s a swirling statement of intent, raging with a poignant fervour against men’s entitlement over our bodies. As front person Maisie fiercely proclaims that “consensuality is a thing”, she assures us that our voices should be heard; that we are entitled to have control over own bodies, and should feel safe in this knowledge. With a blazing grit, the track pulls no punches as it rages against the culture of victim blaming and society’s expectation that we are responsible for changing ourselves to protect us from harm, rather than holding the perpetrators of abuse to account. Of the meaning behind track, Maisie comments:

Watching the news about the murder of Sarah Everard by a policeman hit us immensely. Seeing it unfold into what didn’t seem real. We questioned our upbringings, what our mothers told us whilst growing up. Things to remember to keep safe. And realising just how messed up that is. We wrote this song because we were shook by the idea of having to change anything about simply existing as a woman in this world. We do not stand for inequality. We do not stand for abuse. We stand for consent, decency and respect.” 

Another immense slice of pop-infused rock ‘n’ roll from Queen Cult, ‘A Song About Consent’ builds with a stirring tension and soulful raw emotion, alongside sweeping fizzing riffs, to offer a completely necessary and ferociously poignant listen, fuelled by a colossal, and instantly catchy, musicality. So, blast it into your ears, immerse yourself in its riotous catharsis, and stand up and join the fight against the patriarchy now!

Watch the new video for ‘A Song About Consent’ now:


‘A Song About Consent’ is out now. Catch Queen Cult live in Manchester at The Castle Hotel on 18th November – tickets here.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Photo Credit: Debbie Ellis / A Supreme Shot