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.

PLAYLIST: Transgender Awareness Week 2021

At Get In Her Ears, we stand every day with our transgender and gender non-conforming siblings. We support trans and non-binary artists because they create some of our favourite music, and because trans rights are human rights and we send our love, solidarity and joy to all the trans community today, and every day.

This week has been Transgender Awareness Week, and ends with Transgender Day of Remembrance tomorrow 20th November, so today we wanted to uplift and spread awareness of just some of the incredible transgender and non-binary artists who we love to blast out of our speakers on a regular basis.

Read about our choices below, and take a listen to the full playlist here.

And, if you need support during Transgender Awareness Week, or at anytime in the future, you can always reach out to Switchboard LGBT+ via their website or by calling 0330 330 0630.

Jackie Shane – ‘Comin’ Down’
As always, I can’t resist adding soul singer Jackie Shane to our playlists. Her wonderfully smooth vocals, sophisticated style and defiance in the face of transphobia in the early ’60s all make her a true GIHE icon. 
(Kate Crudgington)

Ms White – ‘Fuck Men’
I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t heard of Ms White until this year, when Belfast artist F.R.U.I.T.Y thankfully introduced me to her by including this track in their recent Five Favourites feature for us. A wonderfully empowering anthem from the trans artist and for people of all genders; I challenge you to listen to this and not feel motivated and ready to face the world.
(Mari Lane)

Thigh High – ‘Go Slow
I had the pleasure of interviewing Thigh High last year and I recommend you check out their full back catalogue – a band truly dedicated to celebrating and centring queer and trans joy in their music! 
(Tash Walker)

Ezra Furman – ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’
Having come out as a transgender woman earlier this year, and sharing beautiful images of herself with her child, Ezra Furman has long been a favourite of mine, since I first fell in love with her 2018 album Transangelic Exodus. This song, taken from 2019’s Twelve Nudes, is a beautiful reflection on identity, as Furman describes it – “a romantic song of transgender longing…
(ML)

The Crystal Furs – ‘Miss Hughes’
Portland band The Crystal Furs returned to our ears earlier this year with own unique brand of queer jangle pop. Tying together the band’s penchant for writing about cities with vintage b-movie vibes, ‘Miss Hughes’ is a playfully twinkling offering, complete with organ melodies and honey-sweet vocals.
(ML)

Bitch Hunt – ‘Shapeshifter’
GIHE faves Bitch Hunt originally formed at the amazing First Timers fest, and this year released their debut EP via Reckless Yes. The title track of the EP, ‘Shapeshifter’ is a stirring slice of effervescent punk-pop, reflecting on themes of transition and gender identity, and how we are consistently ‘shape-shifting’ depending on our circumstances. A beautifully poignant offering, oozing a sparkling sense of optimism.
(ML)

Chuck SJ – ‘Sink Your Teeth In’
This single is taken from DIY multi-instrumentalist Chuck SJ’s upcoming debut album Resist.Recharge.Revolt. Full of atmospheric guitar riffs, sparse beats and glitchy electronics, it’s an industrial-tinged rumination on the forces that construct, influence and sometimes dismantle our ways of thinking. Chuck is also one half of punk duo Byenary who you can check out here
(KC)

Adult Mom – ‘Berlin’
Consistently my most listened-to artist over the last couple of years, non-binary musician Stevie Knipe – aka Adult Mom – creates the most beautifully heartfelt music. I’m sending extra love to them at the moment as they were diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and are currently in recovery. I can’t wait to hear more gorgeous music from them when they’re ready.
(ML)

Smoothboi Ezra.- ‘My Own Person
We’re big fans at Get In Her Ears of non-binary Irish artist Smoothboi Ezra, whose music so often touches on the melancholy but with such richness it is such a pleasure to listen to their music which is often SO relatable to all of us in the queer community.
(TW)

YAY MARIA – ‘Template’ (feat. FRANX)
Having previously captivated our ears as the front person of Grawl!x, trans artist YAY MARIA recently released her wonderful debut solo album, OYEZ. Made in collaboration with Nottingham-based queer artist and musician FRANX, ‘Template’ is filled with a stirring lyricism that celebrates self-love, whilst oozing a dry wit, drawing attention with a raw honesty to the mundane issues of modern life; the parts of life that are often expected of us – the ‘template’ we are expected to live by – but by no means are appropriate or desired by all, particularly those in the queer/non-heteronormative community.
(ML)

PET Wife – ‘B.L.O.O.D.O.R.A.N.G.E.’
Love what I’ve heard from PET wife so far! I came across them only a couple of weeks ago. PET wife are a trans/non-binary couple and art-pop duo from Bushwick, Brooklyn. This single is accompanied by a music video, that they describe as an homage to the vampire lesbian exploitation films of the 1970s, with an all-trans/gender non-conforming crew and queer cast.
(TW)

Catherine Moan – ‘Fools’ (Depeche Mode Cover)
This is a fun, polished cover of a Depeche Mode b-side from Philadelphia-based electro-pop artist Catherine Moan. Her buoyant electronics and infectious rhythms give this slice of ’80s alternative music nostalgia a welcome sultry twist.
(KC)

SOPHIE – BIPP (Autechre MX) 
A pioneer in electronic music who we sadly lost earlier this year. Like so many of the people I have learned about in our British queer history, SOPHIE will live on in their music and the memories we all hold of how that music makes us feel. 
(TW)

Gordian Stimm – ‘Breath Diet’
I’m such a big fan of everything electronic artist & producer Gordian Stimm creates. This track is taken from their instrumental EP Flirty Lucre for Public Sector, which they released earlier this year. Their debut album, Your Body In On Itself (released by Amateur Pop Incorporated) also makes for a super listen. 
(KC)

LOTIC – ‘Burn A Print’
Berlin-based artist & producer LOTIC’s mission is to “live life to the fullest by not giving a fuck about what anybody thinks,” something she clearly and defiantly communicates on this track. With a name that means to “to inhabit rapidly moving water,” Lotic’s chaotic yet fluid soundscapes truly embody her passionate, fighting spirit. 
(KC)

HUSK – ‘My Innocence’
Manchester based trans, non-binary artist HUSK prides themselves on celebrating queer joy and equal rights in their shimmering, euphoric pop anthems. ‘My Innocence’ is the perfect accompaniment to having a dance with loved ones and uniting in the celebration of queer love and diversity.
(ML)

F.R.U.I.T.Y – ‘U.P.S’
Belfast-based queer artist Dan O’Rawe – aka F.R.U.I.T.Y – released their debut EP earlier this year. Taken from the EP, ‘U.P.S’ offers a wonderfully quirky, futuristic soundscape whilst reflecting on themes of identity. As twinkling hooks flow with a cinematic splendour, it’s a glistening, uplifting slice of alt-electro-pop.
(ML)

Arca – ‘KLK’ (feat. ROZALIA)
Arca is a trailblazing trans artist who has been pushing boundaries in the electronica scene for years now. I love her music, especially right now where I cannot quite scratch that live gig rave itch. Turn this up loud, close your eyes and dance dance dance, you’ll feel free.
(TW)

Mavi Phoenix – ‘Boys Toys’
Mavi Phoenix is someone that we interviewed a couple of years back now, but who spoke so eloquently about equality and the importance of queer music in the world. Phoenix has found a home in their new sound and also in the pronoun “he”. This track is taken from their debut album of the same name, which was released earlier this year. This is all about Phoenix being reborn, which is what happens in the accompanying music video to this track. ‘Boys Toys’ is as important as an exploration for Phoenix’s gender identity as it is for his artistic work. And on top of all that, it’s an absolute tune. Enjoy.
(TW)

Khx05 – ‘Trouble’
I have Nova Twins to thank for introducing me to North Carolina-based artist Khx05. They feature on the duo’s compilation album Voices For The Unheard, a blistering collection of alternative anthems that showcase the eclectic, tenacious range of talent from artists of colour in the heavy & alternative music scenes. Khx05 is one of the most interesting artists I’ve come across this year and I urge you to check them out. 
(KC)

Kae Tempest – ‘People’s Faces’
Coming out as non-binary last year, Kae Tempest is one of the most necessary and innovative artists around. The glaringly honest and completely relevant social commentary of ‘People’s Faces’ showcases their unique poetic skill at creating relevant and hugely emotive social narratives. But a subtle glimmer of hope also shines through; the comfort we gain from those we love, and the comfort we can offer them just by being there.
(ML)

Shamir – ‘Cisgender’
I’ve been such a fan of Shamir for years and really admire how they’re constantly developing their sound and not shying away from being their true self. ‘Cisgender’ is a simply beautiful and moving reflection on their non-binary identity: “I’m not cisgender / I’m not binary trans / I don’t wanna be a girl / I don’t wanna be a man / I’m just existing on this god forsaken land.” Solidarity and love to you Shamir, always. 
(ML)

Listen to our Transgender Awareness Week playlist on Spotify now, and make sure you follow and support these fab artists!

LISTEN: GIHE on Soho Radio with Shivani Dave & HyperTribe 17.11.21

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.

The Log Books Co-Founder and all round icon Shivani Dave also spoke to fellow Log Books Co-Founder Tash about their podcast, how they make it and the importance of documenting LGBTQIA+ history. Tash also caught up with Kimi, the Founder & CEO of HyperTribe, to talk about the support and advice their platform gives to new and emerging artists.

Listen back below:

 

Tracklist
Fanny – Ain’t That Peculiar
Sink Ya Teeth – If You See Me
Baauer, Tirzah – Way From Me
SEA CHANGE – Night Eyes
Problem Patterns – Terfs Out
Dutch Mustard – A Song For Dreamers
Agender – No Nostalgia
Deep Tan – tamu’s yiffing refuge
Bad Idea – Crash
Notelle – Turnover Rate
Fana Hues – Pieces
**HyperTribe Interview with Kimi**
Belot – Harmless Fun
Queen Cult – A Song About Consent
Shamir – Cisgender
Gordian Stimm – Breath Diet
**Shivani/The Log Books Interview**
Ezra Furman – I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend
Greta Isaac – Polyfilla
Flowerkid – I Met The Devil At 4 Years Old
O Hell – Down
Lunar Vacation – Gears (GIHE)
LibraLibra – Candy Mountain
Heff VanSaint – Youth on Fire
Jackie Shane – Any Other Way