FIVE FAVOURITES: OHMME

Formed of Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart; Chicago-based OHMME blend driving beats and brooding, distorted guitars to create their deceptively simple, catchy songs. The pair are set to release their new album, Fantasize Your Ghost, on 5th June via Joyful Noise Recordings, and it’s full of snaking riffs and restless lyrics designed to relieve the feeling of being stood still. 

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Macie & Sima to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five songs and/or albums that have influenced their writing techniques. Check out their choices below, and scroll down to listen to OHMME’s track ‘Selling Candy’ at the end of this post.

1. Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum
Macie: Cate Le Bon is a new discovery for the both of us. We listened to ‘Reward’ a lot last Spring/Summer when we were touring, and then dug into some of her earlier records. “Mug Museum” really stands out as one of our favourites. The guitars weave together in this snake-like way which inspired a lot of our approach to the guitar part writing on Fantasize Your Ghost. She just has such great songs and arrangements that groove so easily and make you feel good. ‘Are You With Me Now’ is one of our favourites off of the record.

2. Kate Bush – The Kick Inside
Macie: It would be impossible to downplay how much we love Kate Bush. She has this ability to create a different universe on each record of hers, and listening to The Kick Inside woke something up inside of us. I can’t believe she was 17 when she made this record! She’s so young but her voice is so powerful and commanding, it’s really inspiring. It’s cool how this record plays with the aspect of performance in the theatre sense, she’s always embodying these characters in her songs and making them larger than life. It opens up a lot of possibilities of what a song could be.We have a dream of doing a Kate Bush cover night and performing the entirety of this record…We’ll let you know when that happens.

3. The Roches – ‘Hammond Song’
Sima: There’s something about the unison singing in the song that just cuts right through you. The Roches’ use of harmony, unison, and polyphonic singing has been very influential on us the last couple years as we play with all the different ways we can combine our voices. We also adore their songwriting; how direct and hilarious but also earnest it can be. The eponymous album that this song comes from also feels like it was written specifically for people (and maybe even more specifically, women) who are on tour all the time.

4. The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices
Sima: I grew up singing in a choir and was introduced to Bulgarian Women’s Choral singing at a young age and I always loved it. I love any singing where you can sing full-throttle – sacred harp, gospel – it just pulls your guts right up through your throat and I love that. A few years ago on tour, Macie put on the album made by this group and we we’re both just really excited about it. Its one end of the spectrum of singing that we love to indulge in and you can hear it pretty directly influence moments on Fantasize Your Ghost.

5. Neko Case – Star Witness
We’ve both loved Neko for a long time; her voice, her music, but especially her poetry. We sing this song sometimes together when we’re sitting around with acoustic guitar. Neko has an incredible ability to convey a mood without saying exactly what or who she is always singing about. The sound of her words works so well with how her melodies leap and bound around each other. This album came out at a time when we were coming of age as songwriters and is therefore immortalized in our brains forever.

Thanks to Macie & Sima for sharing their favourites with us.
Follow OHMME on Spotify and Facebook for more updates.

Premiere: Nuala – ‘Split Down The Middle’

Having received acclaim from the likes of BBC 6Music’s Steve LaMacq and the Evening Standard, and featuring as lead vocals on a remix of Nile Rogers’ ‘Le Freak’, multi-instrumentalist Nuala has now shared her brand new single.

Oozing rich soulful vocals and uptempo reggae-inspired beats, ‘Split Down The Middle’ flows with a vibrant, euphoric energy. Showcasing an upcoming artist on the rise, it’s a truly uplifting slice of alt-pop with a colourful, infectious groove.

Listen to ‘Split Down The Middle’, for the first time, here:

 

‘Split Down The Middle’ is out tomorrow, 29th May. It’s taken from Nuala’s upcoming EP, Me&Me.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Re-Covered: Sally Anne’s Illustrated Favourite Albums

If you’re anything like us, throughout Lockdown you may have been seeking refuge in some of your favourite records, perhaps rediscovering some old classics along the way. So, for this new feature, illustrator Sally-Anne Hickman re-imagines her favourite ten albums of all time by painting their covers in her own unique style, using watercolours.

Check out the third of Sally-Anne’s choices below, and keep your eyes peeled for the rest over the next few weeks… 

Mazzy Star – Among My Swan
The third album from the ambient folk duo Hope Sandoval and David Roback left behind their previous psychedelic shoegaze sound. What remains is the melancholy within the haunting vocals woven with fuzzy guitars and laid back percussion. Mazzy Star create an effortlessly rich atmosphere with combinations of church organ drones and languid harmonica riffs. This album is the soundtrack to sad lullabies and faded dreams.

Sally-Anne Hickman
@sallyshinystars

FIVE FAVOURITES: Sandunes

Mumbai-based producer Sandunes (aka Sanaya Aredeshir) has focused less on musical technicality, and more on emotional catharsis on her latest EP, Spare Some Time. While for some this decision might compromise high production standards, that’s not the case here. Spare Some Time is a polished, calming, electronic mediation on the necessity of expressing emotion. The four track creation is an aural salve for overwhelmed ears, flowing with shimmering synth textures and soothing beats that remind listeners to take stock of the love in their lives.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Sandunes to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that influenced her writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to Sandunes’ track ‘Love It Less’ & her new EP at the end of this post.

 

1. Bonobo – Dial M for Monkey
There was a phase when I was a college student in Bombay, where these tunes soundtracked life as we graduated from conformity into rebellion. My very first experiences of freedom or independence are so intertwined with this album, and it does that thing of physically transporting me to a blurry and beautiful time from a previous life, where with a group of friends in a beach town by the ocean, we woke up and fell asleep to this record for days on end. There is something so mystical, innocent and whimsical about it, and it is also what inspired me to start producing my own music. (I’d highly recommend this for nighttime winding down routines.)

2. The Books – The Lemon of Pink
This is another one I keep returning to. I think the idea of composing music from a formulaic place is usually looked at negatively, but the concept with this body of work was extremely gripping, and so well executed. I fell in love with the way this sound collage unfolded, and the combination of textures, tones and samples really inspired my awareness towards found sound in my environment. (I’d highly recommend this for long drives out of the city.)

3. Air – Moon Safari
Another piece of nostalgia in this album. I think the meaning of the term “classic” varies for each of us, and to me Moon Safari is just that. Also another sound track from a previous life, this one laid the foundation for all things trip-hop and definitely inspired some songwriting, attention to detailed production, and synthesis! I remember having an “Aha!” moment with ‘Remember’ at some point when I realised what I loved about the tune was all the synths. (I’d highly recommend this for the backdrop of your next potluck…in a post pandemic world when you can dine with all your friends again!)

3. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
I have had many walks, many drives, and shed many tears to this album. There is something so pure, honest and organic about how these songs have been written and recorded. It cuts through the clutter and hits the emotional nail straight on the head. I remember finding it especially gentle on the ears after listening to a lot of over-produced electronic music, going back to vocal harmonies and guitars feels like balm to the soul. (I’d highly recommend this for your next hike/solo trail up a mountain.)

4. 30/70 – Fluid Motion
A more recent addition to this list and what I’m currently listening to. I love everything about this album. I find it bold, I love the choices, the musicianship, and I love how the artistry with regard to musical skill meets production and delivery so well. Each time I listened, I felt like there was so much scope to absorb something new that was happening.
(I’d highly recommend this for your next dance party.)

5. Coco Rosie – Grey Oceans
I love this album and had it on repeat at a time when my ideas about songs and song structures were beginning to expand beyond traditional songwriting. There’s so much whimsical movement and magic woven into this record that it really captivated my imagination and always seemed to paint a very visual picture. Despite encompassing a range of emotions like sadness and melancholy, this record shines a light on the end of the tunnel for me. (I’d highly recommend this to deal with grief or loss.)

Thanks to Sandunes for sharing her favourites with us!
Listen to Sandunes new EP Spare Some Time on Spotify.
Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Abhilash Bhaishya

VIDEO PREMIERE: Death Hags – ‘The Darkest Night’

A slow-burning, intoxicating soundscape that explores what the night can bring; Death Hags has shared visuals for her latest single, ‘The Darkest Night’. The track is lifted from her recent album, Big Grey Sun #2, which is the second part of an ambitious seven album multimedia project.

Based in L.A., electronic musician Death Hags (aka Lola G) fuses pulsing beats with dark, kaleidoscopic synth textures to create her captivating sounds. Inspired by two days worth of hallucinations caused by a dog bite, she released Big Grey Sun #1 in 2019. Album #2 quickly followed in March 2020, and continues to explore the eclectic nature of the human condition and all of its possible futures. ‘The Darkest Night’ is an extract from this continuing narrative.

“I started writing the song in the van during the drive back to L.A. from SXSW last year” explains Death Hags. “It came to life at Outside Inside Studio in Italy, with my friend Matt Bordin of the psychedelic collective Squadra Omega. Matt is a great producer and has some wonderful analog/modular synths that we used on this track. Not to be too on the nose, but I guess this track is about forging ahead into the night, to see what dawn brings.”

Watch the visuals for ‘The Darkest Night’ below and listen to Big Grey Sun #2 on bandcamp or Spotify.

Photo Credit: Louisa Zimmer

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Premiere: Kaia Vieira – ‘The Care Giver’

Having been writing music since the age of fourteen, Kaia Vieira is now set to release her debut EP later this month. Ahead of its release she has now shared her brand new single.

Oozing a soulful, impassioned lyricism over gritty trip-hop beats, ‘The Care Giver’ builds to an anthemic ballad, fusing together an eclectic range of sounds with a sweeping ethereal musicality. A truly innovative, and evocative, soundscape, Vieira has created a poignant and reflective slice of genre-defying neo-soul. Of the track, she explains:

The actual title of ‘The Care Giver’ refers to a guardian figure abusing their position of trust. The figure is seen as this virtuous custodian from the outside but in reality, is ‘plagiarising’ the role of the absent parents. There’s a loss of childhood but there’s also survival, and even hope. It was my first attempt to ‘rap’ and I still wouldn’t call it necessarily rapping – I just wanted to tell a story more directly and it served the song to do it.”

We spoke to Kaia Vieira to find out more about her and her new release. Read the interview, and listen to the new single – for the first time – below:

Hi Kaia Vieira, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
What a welcome! Hmm, these are always the toughest to start with, aren’t they? So, I guess to sum up the vibe of my music I’d have to say, dark, beat-driven tunes that gives an ode to classic trip hop and dnb, particularly from a ’90s background. I love odd harmony – especially Eastern-derived – I love all things bass, I love gnarly top-end filters and I love… manic breaks. Oh, and of course I love the piano. I’m a singer/songwriter/producer originally from Bournemouth and now living in London. I can be perfectly content cooped up in a room for days just writing as much as I can, skanking with my full band mid gig. And to add a little about myself… I’m naturally quite introverted and private, so learning how to articulate myself between songs on stage and in interviews is always a bit uncomfortable, but I do find some comfort knowing that about a billion awkward artists before me have worn and outworn these shoes. In the rest of my non-musical existence, I love yoga, dancing, reading, just being with my closest mates and wandering about green spaces. 

How did you initially start creating music?
I actually began playing very acoustic, rootsy folk music when I first picked up the guitar and ukulele at 13 – so a bit of a world away! But I believe every kind of genre you touch upon in your journey as a musician has its place in crafting the sound you’ll become identified for later on, so I don’t want to disregard it. I was obsessed with folk, blues and country artists. From some of the classics like Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Howlin’ Wolf to the more contemporary (at the time), Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn and my absolute favourite, The Tallest Man on Earth. I started out playing at my local open mic night in Wimborne (a small town near Bournemouth) at 14, first by myself and then in an acoustic trio playing covers, and soon I started playing gigs at local venues/mini festivals from 15. It was only when I was 16 going on 17 that I began to explore more electronic styles when I began playing with my first electronic band, experimenting with mixes of hip hop, alternative soul and drum and bass. I started writing music not long after I began playing the guitar around 14/15 and had a number of songs by the time I started performing with the band – it was my first experience then however to begin writing collaboratively and learning how to improvise top lines over the keys, bass and drums.

Your debut EP Vikāra is out 29th May 2020 – can you tell us what it’s all about? Are there any themes running throughout the EP?
I actually formed the idea for the EP, found the name and decided I still needed to write the main single, which ended up being ‘Where Did You Go?’, all during a mini no-tech hiatus at the beginning of 2019. I’d already begun writing for it, but I knew I needed to finalise the name/concept and write a stronger single and I’d always romanticised the idea of the solitude retreat after hearing about Bon Iver’s experience writing Emma, Forever Ago. I went to stay in this tiny little wooden surfer cabin I found in West Wales for a few days cutting off from my phone. Turns out, a bit of solitude, intention and pressure to use a small bit of time can work wonders for indecision. The whole of the EP was written across a period of intense shifting in my life, pretty much moving from one older world to the next, and so all the tunes reflect this in a very cathartic way. It was when I came across the word Vikāra looking up different Sanskrit terms during this stay that the definition of the transformation through the wound really summed up the concept of the EP and did a lovely job just putting some kind of metaphorical casing around it, pulling the songs together. 

You’ve been compared to the likes of Portishead and Little Dragon, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
My queen is Miss Badhu. I properly got into her at about 17 when I was in the early stages of crafting my individual sound and she was really the first female artist that completely made sense to me. Other massive influences have got to be Prince and David Bowie, for just being revolutionary and timeless, never failing to inspire and re-inspire me at every age. In more recent years, I think Thom Yorke’s completely harrowing yet liberatingly serene soundscapes are seeping into me and my music, and my interests in the more sound-design and instrumental world of film scoring is growing.

How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
Well, I live in London nowadays and so (pre-pandemic and lockdown) there’s hardly a shortage of live music. The tough bit I’ve always found is actually making the time to explore new music enough when you’re so intensely immersed in your own little music bubble of gigging, recording, promoting. I’m Brixton-based though and loved going to Hootananny for hip-hop/dub nights and the local record store ‘Pure Vinyl’ for their weekly ‘Straight Pocket’ jazz/neo-soul jam sessions. I actually love Bristol for the filthiest dnb clubs though – The Black Swan was always a favourite to drive up for, especially pre-London days, when the Bournemouth music scene just wasn’t cutting it (which was pretty much always – although I will shout out to Chaplin’s and the Cellar Bar for being the only venue to continue striving to keep the Bournemouth music scene alive)! Nothing really touches on the grimeyness and satisfying bass-drops of The Black Swan – I haven’t actually found anything that quite compares yet, even in London. So yeah, dnb/jungle nights are one of my favourites, and classic 60s/70s funk, soul and disco events – just the both ends of dance music that provide the sweatiest nights – half or double time!

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
I love mixing live and electronics as much as possible – recreating electronic sounds with live instruments where we can and then filling in samples in between. I’m a bit obsessed with live dnb and jungle break drops as my drummer Tomas knows all too well. I have to keep switching up the beat ideas though as if I got too carried away, we’d just be raving to a continual stream of an emulated amen break! The live shows also consist of lots of sub bass played by my live bassist Dan, and then lots of piano-based often discordant harmony and eerie synth work that my keyboardist Clem soundscapes. I actually had a ‘no-guitar’ rule for a while as I got very bored of almost all guitar-based music for a long time, but I’m happy to say that pretty much got thrown on it’s head recently. Our newest member of the band, our guitarist Ze, introduced me to the world of the pedal board and we’ve since been messing around and realised how much you really can do with live instruments and a couple synth emulators. It’s cool as well because the keyboard synth/samples have a their own realm of very solid, flat signals that create that static wall of sound that’s essential when you need as much fatness as possible, but then the pedals that play around with the more natural waveform of an acoustic instrument provide a different world of more unpredictable and organic effects. So yeah, we’re trying to bring them all together and just so looking forward to when we can finally be back in a room again getting ready for new live shows!

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
I’ve got to admit I’m very guilty of being a total self-consumed artist at times, existing in a bubble of my own writing/playing and forgetting to hunt out for new artists! But when I do find new music I’m totally excited about, I could be a walking advertisement. My latest new artist discovery has got to be James Holt. We met at a new music discovery night that we were both on the same bill for, and his style is definitely not one I normally listen to or find new acts pushing boundaries in, but I was completely won over. He’s like this time capsule that stepped out of the 60s and brought with him the qualities of the proper classic songwriters – his writing is just so wholesome. So much so that I had to buy his CD (and I’ve got to admit that rarely happens that I feel that compelled when stumbling on new live acts), especially as his song ‘Burning Moon’ just broke me and I listened to it on repeat in my car for a good couple of weeks. So yeah, check him out.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
It’s definitely tough. The white noise of the masses is more so than ever with the internet and virtual platforms giving the opportunity for anybody and everybody to put out their music. So, there’s a lot more noise to break through, which is the more difficult part, but equally there’s so much more opportunity in another sense because anyone can use these platforms to empower themselves and push their creations as an independent artist. Maybe I’m the eternal optimist, but I strongly believe that at the end of the day true quality has the potential to cut through and be recognised despite any noise, and the most important thing is to focus on your individuality as an artist as that will only ever and always be your only unique selling point. I think pushing boundaries and risking creating a newer, not as easily definable sound is worth it for the long run even if it’s a slower burner.

Finally, what does the rest of 2020 have in store for Kaia Vieira?
We’re mid-campaign now with the EP, so we have another single ‘The Care Giver’ on the way before the final EP drops too. This one’s more trip hop and down tempo than the first single ‘Where Did You Go?’ – best described by my PR company ‘A Badge of Friendship’ as a “celestial groover”. Disclaimer: I had nothing to do with that phrase but absolutely love it! Aside from the EP, I’m currently already so excited about all my new material – like a little kid really, the delay of releasing is definitely a tester for cultivating serious adult levels of patience. But I’m just going to focus on building the catalogue during these times that have offered us some extra space at least, getting ready for the latter of 2020/going into 2021. Oh and, I may be venturing further into the dnb world with a collab or two post EP – that’s all I can say!

Huge thanks to Kaia for answering our questions! Listen to ‘The Care Giver’ for the first time below:

Vikāra, the upcoming new EP from Kaia Vieira is out 29th May via These Furious Recordings.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

FIVE FAVOURITES: Low Hummer

Like most bands this year, Hull quintet Low Hummer are preparing to spend their summer in isolation writing new material, instead of gigging around the UK. Their latest single ‘Picture Bliss’ released via Dance To The Radio Records was written pre-pandemic, but its context is uncannily relatable during these (dare we say it?) “unprecedented” times. The track is a noisy, cathartic burst of guitars and crashing percussion, with dual vocalists Daniel Mawer and Aimee Duncan talking about two strangers who find each other moments before the world self-destructs.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Low Hummer’s Aimee & Steph to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five songs or albums that influenced the band’s writing techniques. Check out their choices below, and scroll down to listen to ‘Picture Bliss’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Pixies – ‘Gigantic’
Aimee: Although we all knew of each other before we started the band, it was only really a quick hello if we passed each other in the street! That meant we had, and still have a lot of different influences and backgrounds to our music and don’t often agree on liking the same bands. However, one band we all manage to agree on is Pixies. We don’t particularly make radio friendly music, but thanks to a band like Pixies we realised we can still aim to write pop songs, with hooky choruses even if they’re heavily disguised by odd chord choices, screaming vocals and distorted noises. Frank and Kim’s vocal styles are at odds with each other but work wonders together, whilst Joey’s guitar work often goes for odd riffs that are still instantly recognisable as his. Dan used ‘Gigantic’ in particular as a reference when we recorded ‘Picture Bliss’, joint vocals play a big part in what we do, and Pixies inspired us, they show its manageable to convey sensitivity vocally whilst still chucking in a load of distorted guitars!

2. Lost in Translation Official Soundtrack
Steph: It’s one of our favourite soundtracks collectively, and definitely would have played a role in us working parts out for ‘Picture Bliss;. The inspiration of bands like Death In Vegas along with My Bloody Valentine would have helped us learn how to manage sensitive melody lines and lyrics with distortion and odd sounding riffs. Not forgetting Bill Murray singing along to ‘More Than This’ which helped us fall in love with cheesy riffs and catchy choruses, both of which we’d have written off when we were kids. The Jesus and Mary Chain are not a band we gravitate towards to a lot, but again, their song ‘Just Like Honey’ which features at the end of the film felt like a good reference point for ‘Picture Bliss’. It’s another song that has a joint vocal with plenty of reverb and distortion, our producer Matt played us a few 80s guitar bands whilst we recorded and we gravitated towards emulating scrappy sounding stuff from that era. Lyrically there’s plenty of melancholy, sadness, underpinned with determination which probably inspired us for ‘Picture Bliss’.

3. The Velvet Underground – ‘Femme Fatale’
Aimee: Navigating the dynamics between a male and female vocal was challenging for us at first, especially because of our style. It took a lot of discussion between me and Dan when I first joined the band. Prior to Low Hummer, I’d only ever really sang in my solo country-inspired style. I’d dabbled in some shouting in a few awkward teenage phases, but it didn’t stick. So, when I joined the band it took quite a lot of encouragement from Dan to nudge me towards a more assertive style. Admittedly, he was right, and I can enjoy breaking out of my comfort zone. (Thanks Dan).

One thing we always agree on, though, is a mutual love of The Velvet Underground. We use them frequently as inspiration as we explore the dynamic between our vocals. I sang ‘Femme Fatale’ on my soundcloud a few years ago – one of the reasons Dan asked me to join the band. It felt like a good reference point for me to grasp my vocal position within ‘Picture Bliss’. The song allowed me to find that point between pushy and delicate vocals, which is something I haven’t explored as much in our other releases.

4. Joy Zipper – ‘1’
Steph: This song was on a lot when we began writing ‘Picture Bliss’, we really admired how its neither a stereotypical quiet or loud song, it sits somewhere in the middle. Sometimes when we write simpler songs, we’re keen to throw them away as we don’t feel we’ve worked hard enough on them, it almost comes a little too easy! That’s how we felt with our new single and it took a lot of encouragement from our manager Sally to decide to release it. But sometimes the easiest ones to write are the best. Joy Zipper’s ‘1’ follows a familiar pop song format, but for a simple enough structure it has so many beautiful moments, from its playful, devilish and childlike lyrics to whirling feedback intro and grungy chord progressions, along with a hummable section during the bridge. It’s a really joyful melody line, with optimistic verses, but the chord progressions, and ending, send you off kilter just enough to feel a little unsettled,

5. Her Official Soundtrack
Steph: It’s never actually been released, so I’m not sure it counts! But the film score from Her definitely subliminally influenced the creation of ‘Picture Bliss’. As a band we’re all suckers for sad films, and that usually extends to the music that goes with them. The score was created by the people behind Arcade Fire, and, much like Lost in Translation, it feels other-worldly; full of elements you recognise but can’t always place or hold onto. Whilst stylistically, it’s almost the opposite to what we do, we really loved the way the simple, fuzzy, swaying melodies and carefully placed lazy keys capture the melancholy of the story. The film itself is futuristic and disturbing, which is something replicated in the post-apocolyptic world presented lyrically in ‘Picture Bliss’, and both are full of that all-too relatable sadness which seems to slowly creep up and bite you late on Sunday nights.

Thanks to Aimee & Steph for sharing their favourites with us.
Follow Low Hummer on Spotify & Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Credit: Shoot J Moore