Introducing Interview: Saga Back

We caught up with Sweden’s Saga Back in the wake of her debut single release ‘There You Go…Again’ to talk about her writing process, musical influences and how it all began.

Welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about how Saga Back’s music career began?
Thank you! Well, I don’t know if I would call it a “career” yet, but I think it was almost exactly two years ago that I started recording my own songs. It was for an examination project in school and although I didn’t take any music classes I somehow managed to “write, record and perform five original songs” around the topic of the project. So, that was when I started working with Mattias Nyberg (who’s produced ‘There You Go… Again’), but at the time I didn’t take it very seriously. We just recorded three or four of my songs – they were very acoustic and I didn’t even use a metronome, so the beat was completely off in some parts. And then I uploaded them onto Spotify. As for songwriting, that started a bit earlier but the songs I wrote back then luckily will be forever unheard… Except for one song that me and my best friend made when we were ten. We wrote it in Swedish, asked my mom to translate it to English, and then we sang it at our school’s talent show.

Then, few months back I decided I wanted to do something to learn more about the music industry and so I started an internship at a record label in Gothenburg called Kning Disk. I’ve learnt, and I still am learning, so much from my boss, Louise Hammar, who runs the label. That’s also where I met Markus and Jesper from Something Beautiful, the record label that I’m working with now. So, although I wouldn’t call it a career yet, only four months back I never would’ve guessed that so many people would be listening to my song!

We’re loving your latest single ‘There You Go…Again’, which we’ve played on the radio show, can you tell us a bit more about this song?
I’m so happy to hear that! It feels surreal that it’s been played on a radio show in London. Wow. I was in a pretty destructive relationship, without really realising how much it hurt me. It’s strange how you can abandon all your beliefs just to make someone else happy. That’s why I wrote the song. Actually, I started writing it as a way of putting into words what he did. That way it was harder for me to ignore my feelings and continue making excuses for letting him do those things. But now the song is more of a reminder to not let anyone make me feel less than I am. I hope that’s what people feel when they listen to it.

Can you tell us a bit about Gothenburg, and what the music scene is like there?
Actually, I live in a smaller town twenty minutes from Gothenburg, but I’d say typical “Gothenburg music” is a lot of indie – Swedish music that you either love or you hate. But we do have Way Out West festival, which is the best weekend of all summer. Does that count even though the majority of the acts aren’t Swedish? I really hope it does.

How do you go about writing your music – can you give us an insight to your process?
Lyrics and music at the same time, always. I’ve tried to write lyrics to an already finished instrumental when someone’s asked me, but so far I’ve had no luck with that. My phone is filled with random words and sentences that I’ve heard or come up with. It could be from a newspaper, a movie or a conversation. Usually, I have an idea of what I want to write about and a phrase that I really like and then it goes from there. I always write about my own experiences in one way or another. It makes it a little scary to put it out for everyone to hear, but I don’t think about that while writing. It’s only when I record the song that I start realising that other people will hear it.

Who or what would you say are your inspiration and influences?
Recently I’ve been listening to a lot with Jorja Smith, H.E.R, Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa. All women as you can tell. I listen to male artists as well of course, I just find female musicians more inspiring and relatable. And last but not least, Adele. Although I don’t listen to her music every day, that’s the type of music that I always go back to. I love the songwriting, her vocal range and the way she builds her songs. She played in Sweden a couple of years ago and I didn’t manage to get any tickets, which I’m still sad about.

As we’re a new music-focused site, are there any other new/upcoming bands or artists you’d suggest we check out?
Maple & Rye! You might have heard of them but I think they deserve a lot more attention.

Finally, what’s 2019 got in store for Saga Back?
To be honest, I don’t really know. I’ll be going to Paris for two months, which I planned way before all of this started, and my goal there is to finish writing enough songs for a first album. There’ll be some more singles, I’ll spend time in the studio recording, and then we’ll see. I don’t wanna jinx anything…

Huge thanks to Saga Back for answering our questions! 

PLAYLIST: January 2019

We’re two weeks in to 2019 and whether you’re keeping up with ‘Dry January’, demolishing the leftover Christmas supplies, or simply carrying on like the trooper you are – we’ve put together a list of brand new music to help with all of the above. Take some time to scroll through our words and hit play on the Spotify link at the bottom of the page…

Big Joanie – ‘New Year’
Recorded at Hermitage Works with Producer Margo Broom and released via The Daydream Library Series (Thurston Moore & Eva Prinz’s label), Big Joanie’s debut album Sistahs is a stellar release from a band who have been actively working on and off-stage within London’s DIY scene for years. ‘New Year’ is the opening track on the record, and I love its focused, quiet yearning to kick-start something. (Kate Crudgington)

Lizzo – Juice 
Another utterly empowering and ferociously fun offering from GIHE favourite Lizzo, ‘Juice’ is filled with all the refreshing wit and funk-filled grooves that we’ve come to know and love from the Minneapolis artist. With Lizzo’s joyous, body-positive spirit and its immensely infectious, ’80s reminiscent hooks, ‘Juice’ is the ultimate feel-good anthem that you need to start your 2019. (Mari Lane)

The Choppy Bumpy Peaches – ‘Darjeeling’
What a musical delight from Luxembourg based The Choppy Bumpy Peaches. ‘Darjeeling”s mesmerising cacophony of instruments and sound, layering gently over each other, all drawn together with Julia Lam’s intriguing vocals. Such a heady and hypnotising sound. This track is taken from their first LP Sgt. Konfuzius & the Flowers of Venus which is out now, go check them out, The Choppy Bumpy Peaches. What a name. (Tash Walker)

Medejin – ‘Untitled 4’
There’s something about Medejin’s music which makes feel completely immersed in their sound, as if I’m in a room with no doors, covered ceiling to floor with speakers pouring out ‘Untitled 4’. A truly immersive dreamwave project from Jenn Taranto & Matthew Cooke. ‘Untitled 4’ is taken from their debut EP Eleni which is out now. I’ve got all my fingers crossed that Medejin will be bringing their Seattle sound to our shores in person soon. (TW)

Foxgluvv – ‘Crush’ (remixed by MOONOVERSUN)
Foxgluvv joined us in the studio as our first guest on the Get In Her Ears’ Radio Show this year, we talked with her about being a DIY artist, her particular slice of ‘hungover pop’ and this remix by Brighton based pop duo MOONOVERSUN. Released near the end of 2018, I cannot get enough of this remix and I urge you all to press play right now. It’s heavy on the electronics, pounding beats and warped vocals – dreamy. (TW)

Kill J – ‘Dead Weight Soldier’
Copenhagen’s Kill J has returned with a revenge fantasy in the form of new single ‘Dead Weight Soldier’. Following her fiercely political release ‘Strange Fruits of The Sea’ in 2018, this is the second track from her forthcoming album Superposition, which is set to be a poignant and unapologetic listen. (KC)

Cheerbleederz – ‘Staying Up Late’
Taken from last year’s EP Faceplant, Cheerbleederz’s latest single ‘Staying Up Late’ is filled with all the twinkling indie-pop melodies and honey-sweet vocals you could ever desire. With its jangly catchy hooks and a fuzzy whirring energy, it fills me with a comforting sense of joy on each listen. It’s also accompanied by a wonderfully animated, and super cute video, which you can watch here(ML)

Argonaut – ‘Girl Talk’
An empowering, punk-pop anthem, with motivational lyrics such as “You rock, you can change the world, you inspire boys and girls, you can do anything!”, Argonaut’s ‘Girl Talk’ is the perfect pick-me-up to kick start the new year. Filled with shimmering hooks and a magnificent punk-rock spirit, it’ll leave you ready to face 2019 with all the immense, buoyant energy that it oozes. As well as getting hold of their brilliant latest EP
The New Argonaut EP, you should also make sure you catch this band live – they completely blew us away playing at our gig at The Finsbury last week! (ML)

Panic Pocket – ‘Mr Big’
Inspired by too many formative Sex And The City marathons, Panic Pocket’s ‘Mr Big’ is an uplifting ditty about desperately wanting your close friend to stop defining herself by her relationship status and focus instead on friendship. Flowing with a twinkling charm and the London duo’s impeccable tongue-in-cheek wit, the track oozes honey-sweet harmonies alongside shimmering melodies and a gritty synth-driven energy. Strewn with memorable SATC quotes, highlighting the importance of friendship, it’s another luscious (and super relatable!) slice of indie-pop. (ML)

Micropixie – ‘New Year’s Day’
Micropixie is a British artist based in San Francisco who has recently found herself on The New York Times Top 10 Playlist for new songs which is amazing. We love this track from Micropixie which moves to its own beat whilst taking “a high-concept approach to offering commentary on a world that is torn by injustice, violence and war, and financial misdoings.” From all of us here at Get In Her Ears a huge well done to Micropixie, she’s definitely someone to watch out for in 2019. (TW)

Tallies – ‘Easy Enough’
Taken from their new self-titled debut album, Tallies’ latest single ‘Easy Enough’ oozes a captivating, dreamy haze as the raw vocals of Sarah Cogan soar alongside a whirring scuzz. With its shoegazey spiralling hooks and luscious emotion-driven energy, it’s impossible not to get sucked into its hypnotic allure and fall instantly in love with the unique, swirling  charm of this Toronto-based band. (ML)

Amaal – ‘Not What I Thought’
I’ve been enjoying this song a lot since I first heard it just over a week ago. ‘Not What I Thought’ comes from Somali-Canadian artist Amaal Nuux who has returned to music following much time spent on her activist work as the Goodwill Ambassador for Somalia Women and Children. Drawing influences from both her personal life experiences and her travels in all her work and music, this is her latest single out released on 10th January. Strong beats, warped samples and emotionally evocative vocals ‘Not What I Thought’ by Amaal earns a firm place on our January 2019 playlist. (TW)

Beckie Margaret – ‘New York’
My absolute favourite! Beckie Margaret released this heart-breaking track at the end of last year, and I’ve not been able to stop listening to it since. Beckie’s resilience in the face of heartbreak is what makes listening to her music so rewarding. Even in her seemingly weakest moments, her powerful, pure vocals provide an aching relief that can be felt all the way from the end of Southend Pier in her hometown, to the lonely shores of the city she sings about. (KC)

David Bowie – ‘Lady Grinning Soul’
It’s been two years since the death of the legendary David Bowie, and whilst it’s easy to lament the gap he’s left in the musical world, it’s much easier to put on his records and celebrate all of the wonderful art he left behind. ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ is taken from Aladdin Sane, one of my favourite Bowie albums. I’ll certainly be spinning it in tribute to the Starman over the next few weeks. (KC)

Introducing Interview: LUNIR

Having received acclaim from the likes of BBC Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway and Amazing Radio’s Jim Gellatly, Scottish duo LUNIR create luscious, soul-strewn creations, fusing together glitchy electronics and silky-smooth, soaring vocals.

With their new single ‘Wadidi’ released at the end of last year, we caught up with LUNIR to find out more…

Hi LUNIR, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about the band?
Thank you! So, there’s two of us: Becky and David. We make music.

Your new single ‘Wadidi’ is out now – can you tell us what it’s all about?
It’s a soulful but very playful track about independence and self-actualisation.

You’ve been compared to the likes of Solange and LION BABE, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Yes, Solange is definitely up there, and not even just for her music but the way she approaches art and style and performance in general, so those comparisons are definitely flattering. Other artists we’re really into are Emily King, Kimbra, Glass Animals, Royal Canoe, Queen, Lianne La Havas, Hiatus Kaiyote… The list is endless and constantly grows!

How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
At the moment it feels like we don’t have ONE local music scene. Our current place is Cologne and we’re still exploring what’s what and who’s who, which is really fun. But there is also Edinburgh, where we’re from as a band, and which never ceases to amaze us with an abundance of cool new artists and a compact yet vibrant live music scene.

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
We approach music in a very detail-oriented, maximalist way but at the moment keep the number of people involved in the process rather minimal. David generally looks like an octopus on stage, doing a million things at once – singing whilst playing drums with one hand and synth keys and bass with the other. The fact that there’s only us, however, means that rather than worrying about communicating what’s happening with lots of other people, we can be really spontaneous and just have fun on stage.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
Yes! Garth, JEFFE, St. Martiins, Scarlett Randle, VanIves.

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 probably both easier and more difficult for bands now. It’s so much easier to produce music yourself, to self-publish, self-release etc. But it can also be tricky to cut through all of that and reach the people you want to reach without going bankrupt in the process.

Finally, what does 2019 have in store for LUNIR?
Plenty of new music!

Huge thanks to LUNIR for answering our questions!

‘Wadidi’ is out now.

GUEST BLOG: The Companions

Comprised of Robin Jax and Amber Bird, The Companions are a transatlantic duo with a difference. Both are on the Autism spectrum, and both are “lovers of music and fighters of demons”. The pair find meaning in science fiction and the “warped edges of a reality” which gives their sound a “hint of the cosmic” and a tint of the extraterrestrial.

The Companions released their debut single ‘New Earth’ via UK-based label Tiergarten Records (a home for neurodiverse musicians) in 2018. Today, we’re premiering the video for their latest single ‘(parentheses)’ alongside a guest blog from one half of the duo: Seattle-based musician and author Amber Bird. Read her thoughts on being part of a transatlantic duo, the influence distance and autism has on her work, and her thoughts on the band’s new video below…

I have had a preoccupation with distance for as long as I can remember. With the flavours it comes in (physical, emotional, mental, chronological, etc). With why it’s good and why it’s bad. With how to bridge the distances I hate and maintain the ones I love. And it’s a relevant preoccupation being part of The Companions, a transatlantic Autistic musical duo.

Being on the other side of the world means we’re too physically far apart to spend time together in a practice space, building songs and enjoying our friendship. It means sometimes we don’t seem like a real band. But also sometimes it gives us the flexibility to fit our work into busy lives. It means few of our decisions are made in the emotion of a moment; all our songs, ideas, and designs have at least a few hours to simmer as we wait for the other person to wake up and check them out.

As much as I’m human like you, being Autistic means my brain works in a way different to yours. I have spent great swathes of time feeling the distance between my experiences and others’ experiences. Feeling the mental and emotional distance that that can create, especially when people can’t easily see my differences and just know I am not aligning with their expectations. Feeling more like an anthropologist from outside the non-Autistic world, watching how neurotypical people think and feel and interact, aware of how often I’m faking or guessing in order to try to bridge the distance sufficiently.

The video we’re premiering today exclusively with Get in Her Ears is for ‘(parentheses)‘, the b-side to our ‘New Earth’ single. I did the lyrics, vocals, and video; Robin did the instruments, backing vocals, and some production. Whilst it’s the only entirely non-cynical song I’ve written about love, it’s still got things to say about distance. About how it feels when you close the distance that seems to hang around you until you’ve found the right person or people. (That gap can certainly be closed by friends; I don’t think romantic love is always or only the answer.) When I wrote this, I was grappling with the distance between what I wanted in a particular relationship and what I actually had. In a way, this is a love song to what I know can be.

When Robin sent me the music, it added another dimension of distance. An aural display of how cosmically huge the distance we sometimes have to cross to find what we want and deserve. We may feel like lone satellites pressing through the vastness of space, pinging the darkness. Hoping to find another signal, another earth. Much of what’s out there and of the tools we use to see and be off Earth are round things, curves promisingly like parentheses that might hold us. So put on your golden record, my fellow voyager. Sing to the black and stars. And listen for an answer worth the journey.

Follow The Companions:
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Ones To Watch 2019

Despite being a pretty scary year in the grand scheme of things, 2018 has actually been exceptionally great for new music. Our ears have been filled with sonic delights of all genres, providing necessary catharsis and enjoyment. 

And we predict even more exceptionally epic sounds reaching ears far and wide in 2019. Here’s just some of the bands and artists we predict we’ll be hearing a lot more from in the coming year… 

Ghum
Having played for us at The Finsbury not once, but twice, as well as being guests on our radio show, London band Ghum have become firm favourites over the last couple of years. Now, having teamed up with Everything Sucks Records, and wowed crowds supporting the likes of Dream Wife, as well as delivering an utterly spellbinding set at Indietracks Festival in the summer, it seems certain that they’re headed for more greatness in 2019. This year’s ‘I’m The Storm’/’Undone’ completely bewitched us with the band’s immersive, sweeping dark pop, and we cannot wait to be cast under the spell of their majestic gothic power once more.
(Mari Lane – Managing Editor/Co-Founder)

Witch Fever
I saw Witch Fever live for the first time headlining our January GIHE gig at The Finsbury, and I’ve been hooked on the Manchester punks’ visceral music ever since. I was so impressed by their collective effort to dominate the space; whether that was through knockout percussion, manic guitar riffs, or by front-woman Amy breaking the fourth wall and prowling into the crowd. When I caught them again at The Lock Tavern for We Can Do It Records, I was right at the front witnessing their fearless, riotous glory all over again. If you haven’t seen them yet, I urge you to do so this year!
(Kate Crudgington – Features Editor/Co-Founder)

LIINES
After they had such an amazing year in 2018 we have to recommend keeping an eye on LIINES. Theyve already announced a huge run of dates supporting Sleaford Mods, and some headline dates for early summer too but the news is far from done. After so many years of making music its one of those years-in-the-making-overnight-successes as finally the post-punk trio are starting to be rightfully recognised for their huge, driving post-punk sound. An underground band about to break big? We think so.
(Sarah Lay – Contributor)

Scrounge
Since first witnessing South London duo Scrounge live for us in the summer, I’ve been struggling to put into words just how impressive I find the power of their immense, genre-blending post punk. Their live show is truly breathtaking, unlike anything else I’ve seen or heard, and the swirling grit of this year’s ‘Etch’ – propelled by Luke’s thrashing beats, Lucy’s colossal vocals and an epic sense of urgency – marked them out as definite ones to watch in 2019.
(ML)

Ah! Kosmos
Ah! Kosmos performed a stunning one-woman-show (in an equally stunning sequin blazer) when I saw her support Zola Jesus at Omeara in November. The Istanbul-born artist gave a masterclass in how to perform electronic music solo, and her latest album Beautiful Swamp has been spinning on my turntable since its release. If you’re in to alternative electronic music, you have to check her out.
(KC)

ARXX
Having blown us away with their immense, seething energy when playing for us live at The Finsbury a couple of times throughout 2018, as well as playing incredible support slots with bands such as Dream Wife, this year Brighton duo ARXX released their truly fantastic EP Daughters Of Daughters. Put together as a tribute to the music that vocalist Hannah Pidduck was brought up on by her mother, it draws on an eclectic range of influences, and a variety of subject matter. I just cannot get enough of this band’s riotous, punk-infused power and gritty energy, and predict big things happening for them in 2019.
(ML)

Big Joanie
DIY punks Big Joanie released their debut album Sistahs this year, and it’s a mix of the personal and political; coupled with riotous rhythms and a sistah-hood ethos. Recorded at Hermitage Works Studio with producer Margo Broom, and released via Thurston Moore and Eva Prinz’s new label (The Daydream Library Series), Sistahs is a strong debut from a band who have been actively working on and off-stage within London’s DIY scene for years. They deserve all of the praise and recognition they’ve received so far, and I’m looking forward to catching them live over the next 12 months.
(KC)

Dream Nails
With GIHE being massive supporters from the start, we’ll also be keeping our ears on patriarchy-smashing post punk witches Dream Nails in 2019. Their set at Indietracks was one of our favourites in 2018 and we’re hoping they get to make a full length release this year. Rightful heirs to the punk crown – not just in sound, but in ethos, as they do important things musically and in activism.
(SL)

Sit Down
We’ve been massive fans of Brighton duo, Katie Oldham and Greg Burns – aka Sit Down – for a while now; the intensity of their thrashing garage-punk sounds completely blowing us away on each listen, and their sheer dedication to their craft (Katie even makes all their stage outfits) marking them out instantly from other bands. This year saw the duo release their explosive debut EP Cheap Luxe, and – as well as playing live for us at The Finsbury once again – they received much acclaim from a wider audience, including an epic set on the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds festivals. I think you’d be a fool not to see the incredible success that the noisiest power duo around are headed for.
(ML) 

VIDEO PREMIERE: Indian Queens – ‘You When I Close My Eyes’

Let the “weight of the world” melt from your shoulders as you watch the hazy new video for Indian Queens‘ latest single ‘You When I Close My Eyes’. Taken from the band’s debut EP of the same name (released via Cool Thing Records), the track is a blur of the “ugly and [the] beautiful” according to vocalist and guitarist Jennifer O’Neill.

Shot and edited by the trio during a recent trip to California; the footage blends still images and lyric reels to create a “memory book” cut-and-paste feel, whilst also giving an exclusive glimpse of Indian Queens’ studio space in East London.

Championed by John Kennedy (Radio X), LOCK Magazine, and chosen by The Cure’s Robert Smith to play his Meltdown festival earlier in the year, the Hackney trio are hotly tipped (especially by GIHEs) for a successful 2019. Watch the video for ‘You When I Close My Eyes’ below and follow Indian Queens on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Live Highlights of 2018

Despite being a pretty scary year in the grand scheme of things, 2018 has actually been exceptionally great for new music. And seeing live music has, as ever, provided a necessary catharsis and enjoyment; forever giving us something to look forward to. 

Having witnessed an uncountable amount of women/non binary folk being awesome on stage this year, it was hard to pick out our highlights … But, from some of our DIY faves, to Fever Ray and Courtney Barnett (and – yes – Indietracks Festival features twice, it’s that great), here are a few events that stood out as particularly special for us… 

Witch Fever Live @ The Finsbury, January:
2018 has been of year of many incredible gigs, not least our own gigs that we’ve been lucky enough to host at The Finsbury. And, whilst I have a massive amount of love and pride in all the gigs we’ve hosted, the year kicked off with a pretty immense one. Manchester’s Witch Fever, who made two six hour coach journeys to be with us, treated us to their frenzied, raucous offerings with an incredible, un-matched power. As front woman Amy’s incredible, snarling energy stole the show, we were all left completely in awe of this band’s formidable intensity. And they weren’t the only amazing band of the night; joining them was the empowering force of The Nyx, the grunge-fuelled energy of ARXX and the gorgeous pop-punk of Militant Girlfriend.
(Mari Lane – Managing Editor/Co-Founder)

Fever Ray @ The Troxy, March:
Fever Ray’s fierce, focused, sold out performance at the Troxy proved she’s an inimitable talent with a vision, generosity, and energy unlike any other. In Fever Ray’s space, no-one is an outsider: everyone is welcome in her warped and wonderful world. Emerging from the lights in her trademark “I heart Swedish girls” t-shirt and bare scalp, from start to finish the sound was flawless. Each lyric, synth sequence and drum beat was more distinct and discernible than the next – if you weren’t there, you definitely missed out.
(Kate Crudgington – Features Editor/Co-Founder)

Petrol Girls @ Shacklewell Arms, April:
Mari and I were so excited to see the brilliant Petrol Girls live for the first time this year, and they did not disappoint. Loud, lethal and life-affirming: their headline show was a raw, frenzied, furious affair. The band packed out the venue with the help of their friends Pretty Pistol and Screaming Toenail (our new favourite band), and played our favourite track ‘Touch Me Again’ with all the ferocity and energy we’d come to expect from this brilliant band of activists.
(Kate Crudgington)

Indian Queens @  Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival, June:
Hackney trio Indian Queens performed to a packed out Purcell Room at The Southbank Centre this year, after being hand-picked by The Cure’s Robert Smith to play his (exceptionally well curated) 2018 Meltdown Festival. The band delivered a mesmeric, sharply executed performance that ended in a well deserved standing ovation. I felt like I’d witnessed something truly special from the Cool Thing Record signees when I left the building, and I look forward to catching them again in 2019.
(Kate Crudgington)

Indietracks Festival (and its sense of community), July:
There is the smell of long past years in the carriage as the rails clackity-clack below you, the signalman waves from the box as you pass, and behind the sidings crammed with moss-windowed rolling stock the natural amphitheatre of the main stage hoves into view.

Indietracks is hidden away but for those in the know its not just the boutique festival quietly winning at line-ups, its home. Not only welcoming and familiar, but full of friendship and love. The diversity of the billing, the cute touches and culture-clash between trains and music will delight newcomers but the community sustained between years – by the festival and railway volunteers, each band, every festival-goer – is something to be really astounded by. At a time when togetherness feels more elusive, but is ever more vital, Indietracks should be both celebrated and cherished for the community its nurtured and welcomes home each summer.
(Sarah Lay – Contributor)

Indietracks Festival (and the diversity of its line-up), July:
With our ongoing disappointment at the lack of diversity on the majority of mainstream festival line-ups this year, I was particularly excited to discover Indietracks – one that refreshingly, consistently, champions DIY bands and artists of all genders and genres. And, I wasn’t to be disappointed; the weekend – set in the idyllic Midland Railway Centre near Ripley in Derbyshire – exceeded all expectations.

Ask me about any of my favourite bands of 2018, and they were probably playing at Indietracks Festival. From an array of glorious indie-pop (Wolf Girl, Colour Me Wednesday, Happy Accidents, Worst Place), Feminist punk (Dream Nails, The Baby Seals, Dream Wife) and all the scuzzy, dreamy sounds in-between (Ghum, Sink Ya Teeth, Sacred Paws, Girl Ray), every single band I saw filled me with an empowering sense of joy and blissful gratitude. And I think all those I saw consisted of female identifying/non binary artists.

So, whilst it still seems to be unusual to attend bigger festivals these days and not encounter ingrained misogyny or disrespect of some kind, Indietracks felt like a different world; a safe, joy-filled world, and one jam-packed with all the best music (plus owls and parrots!).
(Mari Lane)

Qween Kwong @ Rough Trade East, July:
I remember this gig for several reasons. Firstly, because I arrived soaked in sweat and rain from the downpour that briefly broke the overwhelming summer heatwave, and secondly because I was lucky enough to interview Queen Kwong before her set. She was just as cool (and as cutting) as I’d imagined her to be, and her live performance was a visceral, loud, defiant example of her songwriting talent.
(Kate Crudgington)

Wendy Rae Fowler @ The Finsbury, September:
I won’t lie; prior to Wendy Rae Fowler headlining for us at The Finsbury this September I was overwhelmingly excited and a little nervous. I’ve been a huge fan of her work over the years, and to have her play for us stands out for me as a particularly special moment (or 45 minutes) of 2018. Immediately creating a captivating, cinematic atmosphere, she filled the room with a majestic sense of wonder, delivering a soul-grabbing, breath-taking set that I’m truly honoured to have hosted.
(Mari Lane)

Courtney Barnett Live In Berlin, November:
Touring her second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett was a sight to behold this year: quite literally. I looked on with envy when the Deal sisters provided backing vocals for ‘Nameless, Faceless’ at the BBC’s Biggest Weekend Festival. But, fortunately, a trip to Berlin also included seeing Courtney live at the city’s Huxleys Neue Welt venue. Seeing the songs played on a larger scale, contrasting with the more laidback atmosphere of songs taken from her debut and early EPs highlighted Barnett’s brilliance and renewed my appreciation of her songwriting.
(John McGovern – Contributor)