PLAYLIST: Pride 2021

As many of our regular readers will know, at Get In Her Ears we strive to support LGBTQIA+ artists all year round via our website, radio show and (pre-covid) our live music nights. This Pride Month, we continue to celebrate and share the work of these artists and take some time to reflect on the history & impact of LGBTQIA+ artists in music and in wider creative spheres too.

Our co-founder Tash Walker, who is also the Co-Chair of the charity Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline & co-producer of the award-winning The Log Books podcast, wrote this powerful intro to our Pride Playlist last year. We’re sharing her words again to let our LGBTQIA+ readers and allies know: we see you, we support you and we love you – this month, and every month. If you need support during Pride Month or at any time, you can always reach out to Switchboard LGBT+ via their website or by calling 0330 330 0630.

Tash: “It’s more important than ever to remember why Pride started. Remember the lengths the LGBTQIA+ communities have come, but more importantly, how far we still have to go. The LGBTQIA+ communities and their allies need to stand strong and united with each other, but especially the black and transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

Covid-19 and its multiple lockdowns have had an unimaginable impact on all of us, especially folks from marginalised communities – magnifying any existing situation people may be in from domestic violence to transphobia, biphobia, homophobia but especially loneliness and isolation. Something members of the LGBTQIA+ communities have been battling heavily against for a while now.

What Pride means to everyone within the LGBTQIA+ communities will be different, but as a queer person I stand and I protest for every single one of those people’s rights. For LGBTQIA+ rights, for anti-racism, for black people, for people of colour, for transgender and gender non-conforming people and every intersectionality in-between. We have to learn from our history and we have to work together where we support the human rights of each and every one of us. People should be free to live without fear of judgement or discrimination. People should not have to fear for their lives because of their sexuality, gender identity, race, socio-economic class, disability or religion.

If your pride flag doesn’t include black and brown stripes, it’s outdated. If your pride flag doesn’t include the transgender flag, it’s outdated. So wherever you are, at whatever Pride you are supporting, spread the word and make it known – equality is for everyone, but most importantly, black lives matter, trans lives matter, black trans lives matter.”

Read about our track choices for our Pride 2021 playlist below and scroll down to the end of the post to listen to it on Spotify.

Ma Rainey – ‘Prove It On Me Blues’
This 1928 song by Ma Rainey, who is unarguably the mother of blues, is possibly one of the first references to queer lesbian culture. Ma Rainey, a queer woman sings, “Went out last night with a crowd of my friends. They must’ve been women, ’cause I don’t like no men.” An essential to any LGBT+ playlist. (Tash Walker)

Jackie Shane – ‘Any Other Way’
We’ve played Canadian soul-singer Jackie Shane multiple times on our GIHE radio show, included her on many a playlist and we’re certainly not stopping now. Jackie was a pioneer for transgender rights in the 60s & 70s, a time when being your true self was not always welcomed, or accepted. (TW)

Big Freedia – ‘Judas’ (Lady Gaga Cover)
Absolutely loving Big Freedia’s cover of Lady Gaga’s ‘Judas’, which features on Gaga’s Born This Way Reimagined album, celebrating the 10th anniversary of her second record. Gaga has also enlisted the help of Kylie Minogue and Orville Peck to embellish her evergreen sentiments about self love, having the freedom to love anyone you want, and to express that love however you want to as well. (Kate Crudgington)

Lido Pimienta – ‘Declare Independence’ (Björk Cover)
This is such a beautiful cover by Colombian-Canadian artist Lido Pimienta, released as part of Spotify’s Pride campaign. I was lucky enough to interview her last year about her amazing album Miss Colombia, and on this new offering her defiant spirit and powerful voice shine through just as brightly. Pimienta released this track as a statement of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ communities, and also for Colombian and Palestinian people struggling for freedom and dignity in their homelands. (KC)

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)

Robyn – ‘Dancing On My Own’
Robyn is an outspoken ally for LGBTQ+ rights. I think it’s important to recognise the role that allies play within LGBTQ+ history and the movement’s continued fight for equality. Being an ally is about educating yourself, it’s about listening, being visible, challenging inequality and helping to educate others. Being an ally isn’t just about LGBTQ+, it applies to any under-represented, marginalised section of society worldwide. As Stonewall says “If we want to live in a world where people are accepted without exception, we all need to be part of the solution.” (TW)

Hercules & Love Affair – ‘Blind’
Taken from their self-titled album released in 2008, the same year I attended London Pride for the first time, this is without a doubt the theme tune to me fully embracing my sexuality, feeling proud of who I was and strong enough to come out happily in all aspects of my life. (TW)

SOPHIE – ‘Immaterial’
This track is taken from SOPHIE’s debut album and I love it. A pioneer of experimental music, often the producer behind so many other amazing tracks, remixes and artists. Described as disorientating latex pop which I think sums up my first experience of seeing SOPHIE live – intense at its best. (TW)

Mykki Blanco – ‘Free Ride’
This is a song from an artist who I feel needs no introduction, a queer pioneer who is doing amazing things for LGBTQ+ rights as well as being open about their positive HIV status. Mykki Blanco is also such an incredible artist and their music is just oh so gooooood. (TW)

Desire Marea – ‘Tavern Kween’
This amazing track by Durban, South Africa-based artist Desire Marea was inspired by Desire’s aunts who went against social norms to find their own forms of freedom in the usually male-occupied taverns in their hometown of Amandawe. Desire explains: “It’s an ode to them, an ode for defiance and feminine manifestations everywhere, an ode to people who come alive at night, to people who enjoy being free and also an ode to people who are fierce about claiming their freedom.” The accompanying video is also sublime. (KC)

Witch Prophet – ‘Makda’
I have Tash to thank for introducing me to the majestic sounds of Ethio queer hip-hop fusion artist Witch Prophet. ‘Makda’ is a celebration of the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba and, as Witch Prophet explains, “the power of Black women and mothers” which she highlights in the track’s beautiful accompanying video. (KC)

Planningtorock – ‘Non Binary Femme’
This track is take from one of my favourite albums of all time, Planningtorock’s Powerhouse. Unarguably paving the way for not only a better understanding of what those words mean, but also leading in acceptance for transgender and gender non-conforming people, Planningtorock and their music has unquestionably helped me on my own gender identity journey and I’m sure many others. (TW)

Ragdoll, Husk – ‘Throwback’
A collaboration between trans, non-binary artist and GIHE fave Husk and non-binary drag queen Ragdoll, ‘Throwback’ offers a wittily nostalgic dance anthem, sparking many fond memories for us millennials. A massively uplifting, fun-filled banger, complete with Husk’s smooth, soulful vocals and a wonderfully infectious groove, it’s a perfect accompaniment to any Pride party. (Mari Lane)

Crisp&Classy X Rookes – ‘Basic’
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. Collaborating with GIHE fave, London-based artist and promoter of queer female identity, Rookes, ‘Basic’ is a vibrant, uplifting dance-floor anthem. Blasting into the ears with an explosive fizzing energy, it’s an effervescent ode to being yourself and silencing anyone who chooses to get in your way. (ML)

ARXX – ‘DEEP’
The latest single from GIHE faves Brighton duo ARXX, ‘DEEP’ is an empowering ode to leaving behind all your anxieties and getting what you want. Interweaving a more electro-infused, glitchy sound than previous releases with their signature ferocious grunge-fuelled drive, it instantly hits you with its raw, anthemic rush and gritty, sensual prowess. ARXX have now also released a number of remixes of ‘DEEP’ – including one by Dream Wife’s Alice Go. (ML)

Ci Majr – ‘Ultraviolet’
Non-binary Atlanta artist Ci Majr creates uplifting, emotion-filled pop anthems with a twinkling sensitivity. Taken from their latest EP Side Effects, ‘Ultraviolet’ sparkles with a heartfelt sense of hope alongside a scintillating energy and instantly catchy, shimmering hooks. (ML)

Alex Loveless – ‘Meet Me Tonight’
There’s something about Hackney-based DIY electronic artist Alex Loveless’ music that’s just effortless and chill. ‘Meet Me Tonight’ is their latest single, but I would also recommend checking out their recent EP Phone Keys Wallet too. (KC)

Amaroun – ‘Perish’
Amaroun talks about the themes she evokes in her music which consistently touch on her journey of being a black queer woman, overcoming struggles with sexuality and the importance of emotional honesty in music. In Amaroun’s words, “this track is an autobiographical reintroduction of myself”. It’s one of my faves. (TW)

BISHI – ‘Who Has Seen the Wind’
As part of Southbank Centre’s 2019 Meltdown Festival, Kate and I had the privilege of meeting Bishi. She’s an incredibly talented singer, electronic rock-sitarist, producer and performer born in London of Bengali heritage. She is also the co-founder of WITCiH: The Women in Technology Creative Industries Hub, a platform elevating Women & Non-Binary in tech through commissions, performances & panels. (TW)

STRAIGHT GIRL – ‘Limón’
Describing themselves as “fiercely and fearlessly queer,” Leeds-based electronic artist STRAIGHT GIRL is a master at exorcising their demons and developing them into their own brand of “grave rave” sounds. I love this track ‘Limón’, which is a vibrant, jagged soundscape inspired by disjointed and self-critical thoughts. (KC)

Gordian Stimm – ‘Though My Love Is Always Still’
I am such a huge fan of everything Gordian Stimm aka Maeve Westall of itoldyouiwouldeatyou releases. They’ve crafted so many experimental gems in the last year, from their debut album Your Body In On Itselfto this single for Amateur Pop Inc.’s compilation record, their offerings are intensely eclectic & so well produced. (KC)

Twin Pixie – ‘Firestarter’
Philadelphia-based hyper-pop duo TJ Cole and Aiv Rubino aka Twin Pixie are inspired by the likes of SOPHIE and Grimes and explore themes of queerness and the supernatural in their majestic, ethereal soundscapes. Propelled by glitchy beats, ‘Firestarter’ races with a sweeping cinematic allure as poignant spoken-word vocals soar, tearing into the sexist norms of society. (ML)

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. (KC)

Ms Mohammed – ‘Pandora’
‘Pandora’ and its rolling, rumbling drums – such a tune by Ms Mohammed who we had a total blast with in the Get In Her Ears studio a few years ago. As well as being an artist in her own right, Ms Mohammed founded the Clit Rock movement in 2013 as a way of speaking out against female genital mutilation. As a champion of cross-cultural tolerance and an out queer artist who advocates for LGBTQIA+ rights and visibility, Ms Mohammed is challenging prejudice through her music and we stand by her every step of the way! (TW)

pink suits – ‘pink suits everyone’
Margate based queer punk-rock duo pink suits incorporate politically driven rage, dance and even theatre into their work, exploring issues of sexuality, mental health and a resistance of binary gender. Taken from their recently released album, political child, ‘Pink Suits Everyone’ oozes a rousing, stirring intent. Offering a vibrant message of inclusivity and hope, here the duo urge us to come together and unite against the powers that seek to contain us. Watch the new video for ‘Pink Suits Everyone’ here. (ML)

Ezra Furman – ‘Suck The Blood From My Wound’
Having recently come out as a Transgender woman, and shared 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 Pride, I think it’s particularly important to celebrate the Transgender community whilst drawing attention to how society’s acceptance of trans and gender non-conforming people still has a long way to go. As Furman poignantly states in her coming out message: “I’m telling you I’m a mom now for a specific reason. Because one problem with being trans is that we have so few visions of what it can look like to have an adult life, to grow up and be happy and not die young. When our baby was born I had approximately zero examples that I had seen of trans women raising children. So here’s one for anyone who wants to see one. I’m a trans woman and a mom. This is possible.” (ML)

Chuck SJ – ‘Sink Your Teeth In’
This single is taken from DIY multi-instrumentalist Chuck SJ’s upcoming debut album Resist.Recharge.Revolt, which is set for release later this year. 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)

Bitch Hunt – ‘Shapeshifter’
Non-binary band Bitch Hunt originally formed at the amazing First Timers fest, and have just 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 resonant yet ultimately uplifting offering, oozing a sparkling sense of optimism. (ML)

Grace Petrie – ‘Pride’
Taken from 2018’s album Queer As Folk, Grace Petrie’s ‘Pride’ offers a reflection on the strides that have been made for the LGBTQIA+ movement over the years, whilst also drawing attention to how far we still have to go to end all forms of discrimination. With her poignant, heartfelt lyricism oozing both a stirring sense of solidarity and hope, as well as frustration and rage (“I know you don’t want to face the fact / that each and every day we’re still being attacked…”), it’s a perfectly resonant anthem drawing attention to why we still need Pride, over 50 years on from the Stonewall Rebellion. (ML)

Naz and Ella – ‘Internalised’
Having been guests on our radio show back in 2019, alt-folk duo Naz & Ella recently released their new EP, De-Humanize. Taken from the EP, ‘Internalised’ is a deeply poignant offering about overcoming internalised queerphobia. Oozing a gritty edge and sweeping, stirring majesty, it’s an empowering ode reflecting the heartfelt message running throughout the EP as a whole, as the band explained in a recent interview with us: “… you don’t have to participate in your own dehumanisation to comply with social norms.” (ML)

Arlo Parks – ‘Black Dog’
I cannot get enough of Arlo Parks and her mesmerising music, so full of emotion I get lost in every second. ‘Black Dog’ is no different, a frank, heart-breaking insight into the the darkness of depression. Mental health awareness within the LGTBQIA+ communities is so important, especially with rising levels of isolation and loneliness. From talking, to supporting, to asking and reaching out for help is so important and totally OK to do. The more we can look out for each other, the more we can encourage and show people that asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness. (TW)

Kele – ‘Smalltown Boy’ (Bronski Beat Cover) 
I was lucky enough to speak to Kele Orekeke about his new album The Waves Pt. 1 earlier this month for The Line Of Best Fit, and he was incredibly generous with his time. I regret that I was too shy to tell him how much of my late teens & early twenties I spent dancing to Bloc Party and his first album The Boxer, so I thought I’d mention it here instead. His cover of Bronski Beat’s iconic LGBTQ+ anthem ‘Smalltown Boy’ is really beautiful, fore-fronting the track’s unique melancholy in an understated and moving way. (KC)

CIRCE Photo Credit: Rachel Povey

INTERVIEW: Circe

A creator of evocative, cinematic dark-pop, Circe’s compelling electronic soundscapes fill the cells with a dazzling euphoria, whilst simultaneously dissecting personal and social norms with breath-taking grace. Since the release of her debut EP, She’s Made Of Saints, in 2020, I’ve been a huge fan of her charged, sultry tunes.

When I spoke to her via Zoom at the beginning of May, her vibrant energy and charm transcended the screen as we explored the themes and iconography behind her visuals, the inspiration for the tracks on her EP, and her inability to tell the difference between panpipes and the flute as a small child…

Hello Circe, how have you been? How have you been coping with lockdown and the pandemic over the last few months?

Covid-19 has been absolutely awful for the people who have been directly affected by it, but – and this might sound bad – I was one of the lucky ones during lockdown. At heart, I’m a nerd and I like to just be on my computer making music. So there was a moment of self acceptance where I though, “Oh, I’m just gonna make loads of music!” and the days went past and the whole EP came out of me while I was just set up in my bedroom.

I think I’m a natural loner. Without sounding completely wanky, I like living through music, living through movies and living in a world with those characters. It might be because I went to art school, but I like to create a whole world around me with each song, which is what I did with my first EP. I changed my bedroom to make it feel like a movie set.

That sounds really safe & wholesome! So where did it all start musically for you? Was there a specific artist or person who inspired you to start making music?

I have the cheesiest little answer for this. I remember this so well. I was 5-6 years old and we were walking into town with my Mum, and this man was playing the panpipes. I feel like way more people used to busk with panpipes back then? It was really beautiful and it made me cry my eyes out. My Mum was like “why are you crying?” and I didn’t know, I didn’t quite understand. I thought it just sounded really beautiful.

I don’t think my Mum had fully seen what was going on – she had four kids with her – but when we got home I was trying to explain the beautiful sound, but she couldn’t work out what I meant. I said I saw a man blowing into something and she said it was probably a flute. So for ages I thought the panpipes were a flute, so for years I was asking “can I have a flute? Can I have a flute?” When I was 13 my Mum rented me a flute, and obviously when I opened it “I was like, what the hell is this?” but I was still really excited to play it. So I played that classically for a really long time and did the whole classical thing, playing in orchestras and stuff. Then when I was 17 I got a guitar. But it all started with a flute and some panpipes…

That’s so sweet and you’re right, you never see people busking with panpipes anymore. It’s a lost art. Talk to me about your recent single ‘Going Down’. What were the influences for the sound and visuals?

When my Mum was moving house, I went and helped her pack up and sort through some stuff, and I found my teenage scrapbook that was kind of like a diary, and it was just so amazing to read it all back because it was so unbelievably passionate. There were loads of bits of poetry and stuff, and there was a piece that wasn’t exactly erotica, but I was definitely on the periphery of discovering my sexuality and what it means to be a woman, so I was writing these little stories about it as a teenager. I thought it was cool, so I kept it.

Then one day when I was on my way to my studio, I was I was listening to ’99 Problems’ by Jay-Z and I was so into the beat. I don’t play drums, but I make all my own beats, so when I got into the studio I was making a beat and I knew it would be a big bombastic song kind of like Jay-Z, and I thought, “can I put these erotic stories over this?” So I did, and then it just became this mad little song. It’s about teenage liberation and finding your sexuality.

Did you have fun making the video for it?

It was so fun. I guess it’s a bit like what I did with my teenage scrapbook, I just collected loads of pictures, poetry, stuff about cults, shots from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet and I fitted some Catholic Church stuff around it too. Then I filmed myself, and I tried to get that sort of innocence where, as a young woman, you know, you’re objectified all the time, you can’t walk down the god damn street without someone calling you a slut for absolutely no reason, so to come home and be like, “I’m gonna be really sexy and really into myself as a sexual being.” It’s all about that really, that’s what I’ve tried to convey.

The idea for my character in the video was kind of inspired by a character in Euphoria called Kate. She starts doing online webcam dancing and sex cam-ing and she’s just the most amazing character. It’s a much more complex storyline than just that, but she was a big influence.

That’s so great that you were just in your own space getting to fully enjoy that freedom of expression, whereas when you try and take that into the world, lots of people have an opinion about it – like you said. That’s such a lovely thing to be able to enjoy.

Something which we have to talk about is your contribution to the Dream Wife Megamix compilation album on bandcamp. It’s all of GIHE’s favourite musicians coming together to make music for a good cause (Rainbow Mind), tell us how you got involved…

I’ve known Alice from Dream Wife for a really long time, because I went to art school in Brighton at a similar time to her. She was on the first people to record my first ever demos. She really got me into it and she was like “you should do like production as well,” and that’s how I got into it. We kept in touch and we’ve done bits and pieces, but yeah, she contacted me and asked if she could use ‘Ten Girls’ for a project and I was like ‘Yeah!’ and then she said she was mixing it with a Sleigh Bells song, and I was like, ‘Yeah!’ Dream Wife are amazing. They do so much campaigning work for such amazing charities and they’ve always been a really good voice for change.

Let’s go back to your 2020 EP, She’s Made Of Saints, because it’s just it’s SO GOOD. It’s cinematic and mysterious, but it also tackles heavy themes like toxic masculinity, the policing of female sexuality (which we’ve already touched on) and even the manipulative behaviour of cult leaders. You explore these themes in such a poetic way, how do you take subjects like this and transform them into dark pop songs? 

Thank you so, so much, that’s so so lovely! I know I’m a songwriter, but I think of myself as a writer in general, and I think with these themes I was writing a story, or a little movie and it all turned out to sound just like a soundtrack. It’s like I’m directing it as Circe. So maybe that’s my way of condensing the big stuff, but some of it does often come from something I’ve seen, or experienced too.

With ‘Ten Girls’, I can 100% remember it so well. I was watching The Handmaid’s Tale, and in one episode, one of the women that’s been kidnapped gets away, she gets in a car and just runs over this horrible guard and it’s obviously violent and mad, but it just, oh my god, it just made me bawl my eyes out. It had the most amazing piece of music behind it and I was just like – I’ve got an idea – and I wrote ‘Ten Girls’. It came out really quickly. I often write a song quite fast, I get an idea and then I just build from that. You need to still stay true to those first characters, those first stories, that first line you came up with, but then you can build around it.

I’ve seen The Handmaid’s Tale, so I know the exact scene you’re talking about! Whoever organises or selects the music for the show should get in touch with you, because you could easily write the whole score for it.

I feel like a lot of artists have goals to tour the world and stuff, which would be amazing, but my absolute golden dream is to soundtrack a TV show. I feel like that’s what I was built for!

Absolutely. On a side note, did Steve Harrington from Stranger Things ever get in touch to say he’d heard your track ‘Steve Harrington’?

It’s so funny, because I did an interview on Radio 1 with Jack Saunders and then the next day, Joe Keery who plays Steve Harrington was on talking about his own band and I was like, “Do I have the guts to say ‘hello, I wrote a song about you'” – but I didn’t. If it ever got to the Stranger Things people, I don’t know what I’d do. I’m quite shy with people, so my way of fan-girling is to write a song. I did go to see the music of Stranger Things live at Southbank Centre though, that was one of the best nights of my life.

As we’ve already mentioned, there are lots of cinematic influences on your sound & visuals – David Lynch, Baz Luhrmann, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things – but what is it about the style of these directors and shows that you like so much?

To sum it up, I think a lot of the time when I was growing up, I felt quite uncomfortable in my own skin. I’ve always been told I’m too emotional, that everything I do is just too much, so I took solace in things like Romeo & Juliet. I was like, “that’s quite a good level to live at; it’s bombastic, romantic, outrageous, cameras fucking everywhere, sped up then slowed down” – it made me feel so comfortable and happy! That’s the world that I live in, in my own head.

I think with all of these things – including Stranger Things and Twin Peaks – there’s a cosiness to them and they’re completely their own thing. They are outrageous and beautiful and I think I just feel comfortable at that level and in that world. It’s fantasy, but it’s grounded in human emotion, love and storytelling. I’m just absolutely not interested at all in living in the real world, you know? I have no connection to it. I have friends and people I know who are doing sensible things and getting married, and I’ve got probably about 10 wedding dresses in my wardrobe just because I love dressing up and inventing stories about brides running away…

I think your way of living sounds more fun and I love that you have 10 wedding dresses that you can throw on when you’re running away from reality.

I know live music is still on the backburner at the moment due to Covid-19, but do you have any plans to play live when things are safe again? Are you planning to release more music too?

Yes, there’s definitely more music to come this year. I think what I’m hopefully planning to do is play a Circe show. I’m not that interested in playing just a conventional gig, because to me, it just doesn’t feel quite right for Circe. So my plan is to build an installation piece with live elements to it. It will definitely feel more like an immersive kind of experience.

That sounds great, I’ll be there. Finally, are there any artists or bands that you recommend we listen to?

I’ve got two, and they’re both completely different to Circe.

One of them is called Amour, who is also called Megan. They’re so young and they’re just absolutely killing it. They make pop music that’s on the edge of Pale Waves, but even cooler. And then a duo I think you might know called ARXX. I absolutely love them, they’re so talented, if I had a label I would sign them in a millisecond. Fantastic song-writing. I can see them being absolutely massive. I have like no doubt, I think they will really take off.

Thanks to Circe for answering my questions.

Follow Circe on bandcampSpotifyFacebookTwitter & Instagram

Photo Credit: Rachel Povey

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Five Favourites: 45AcidBabies

Having first caught our attention with recent single ‘Mommy’s Favorite 1’, Dutch garage punks 45ACIDBABIES have now returned with a vibrant new single. A fizzing slice of alt-pop, ‘Only Class6 From Now On‘ is propelled by a colourful energy as scuzzed-out hooks provide the backdrop for the soaring sultry power of Sophia De Geus’ vocals. Fusing together a rippling psychedelic haze with buoyant bubblegum pop, it features ADAM on guest vocals, creating a wonderfully eccentric and instantly infectious sonic-comic cacophony.

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. So, to mark the release of ‘Only Class6 From Now On’ today, we caught up with Sophia from the band to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have shaped her as a musician. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch the brand new video for ‘Only Class6 From Now On’ at the end of the feature.

Lady GaGa – The Fame
I think Lady Gaga is our favourite pop queen of all. Both as a persona and as a songwriter. The Fame is an album filled with absolute bangers. Apart from the music, she also got me into fashion. Did you see her at the Met Gala 2019?! That was insane (the looks actually inspired the artwork of our new single). And there are so many hits on The Fame! ‘Just Dance’ itself was already iconic. I was 12 years old at the time and all my classmates were coming up with dance routines to perform on the weekly talent show our school was having. My favourite song of the album at the time was ‘Paper Gangsta’, but I’ll admit… I only said that because no one else would pick that song and I wanted to have a different opinion than my classmates. Now I’m pretty sure ‘Paparazzi’ is my favourite. Music video included. I love it. 

St. Vincent – St Vincent
I got into St. Vincent when we had a school assignment where we were dedicated to learn ‘Digital Witness’ and play it exactly how she meant it. I typed it in on YouTube and I was instantly obsessed with Annie Clarke. She is so beautiful and artistic. She has been a major inspiration for many Acidbabies songs. I love her songwriting, her way of showing femininity and her innovative way of playing the guitar. Mostly her interpretation of FUZZ. If it wasn’t for her I would have never bought my favourite instrument: The ZVEX Mastotron. 

The Kills – Midnight Boom
This is one of our oldest inspirations. When we didn’t care much about songwriting and pop music yet I got most of my inspiration from Alison Mosshart’s presence on stage. She is very bold and her movements are tight and thrilling. Also: this album sounds sooo SEXY! They are so good at combining rock and roll with electronic music. Such a big inspiration to us. I’m also a very big fan of Jaime Hince. His way of playing guitar reminds me of having a big growling wolf on the leash and just giving it the right amount of space. The Kills inspired me to acquire a pedal as well: DD3. One of the coolest delay pedals in my opinion. 

Soulwax – From Deewee
Soulwax are one of those acts that keeps amazing me time after time. I discovered them as a ’90s rock band and quickly fell in love with the quirky choices, raw drum computers, fuzzy beatbox bridges and interesting harmonies and was a fan right away. Then a few years later, I remember seeing a really good DJ act called 2ManyDJs on a Hungarian festival called Sziget. It was only after I got home I discovered that the two DJs were the same Dewaele brothers from Soulwax. They started to mix more and more electronics into their work which I loved – a personal favourite, the Nite Version of ‘Krack’. From Deewee is the summit of this journey towards the electronic. The synthesis fantasy of the Dewaele brothers seems endless. I especially like the super cool arpeggios venturing into adventurous chords that remind me of their ’90s rock days and their creative use of weird spring verbs on almost everything. What’s also super impressive to me is that they managed to keep the entire album interesting using almost the same BPM. Accompanied by three live drummers, their live show in Paradiso was one of the most impressive I’ve seen. The perfect combination between a club night and a live act.

Kero Kero Bonito – Intro Bonito
When we were kids Robin and I watched a lot of anime. Mostly Naruto. This made us big suckers for Japanese culture. I first came across Kero Kero Bonito while scrolling through the line-up of a festival I was attending. I heard ‘Sick Beat’ and I just loved it. It sounded so gamey and playful. Like there was an anime character rapping in a Casio keyboard paradise for game characters. I saw them play in a small venue and their way of performing was so different from anything else I’d ever seen. Just two DJ dudes with some cheap keyboards and Sarah singing with a stuffed animal in the form of a flamingo. How cool is that?

Massive thanks to Sophia from 45AcidBabies for sharing her Five Favourites! Watch the brand new video for ‘Only Class6 From Now On’ below:

Five Favourites: Siv Disa

Set to release her debut album this autumn, New York (currently Iceland-based) artist Siv Disa has been beguiling our ears for some time now, since first hearing 2019’s captivating ‘moths’.

Ahead of her upcoming album, she has now shared a brand new single. Produced by long-time collaborator Sam and The Sea, ‘Music In The Streets’ offers a dreamy, ethereal soundscape, oozing a majestic grace and glitchy spellbinding splendour. A beautifully hypnotic insight into how Siv Disa is continuing to hone and develop her sound.

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 Siv Disa to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have shaped her as a musician. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch the recent video for ‘Music In The Streets’ at the end of the feature.

Fiona Apple – When The Pawn
Oh where to start with Queen Fiona?! I found her music after seeing the ‘Criminal’ video on one of those MTV ’90s rewind’ shows when I was about thirteen, and got into her first album Tidal shortly thereafter. Every subsequent album of hers has meant the most to me at different points of my life, but When The Pawn remains my favourite. I’ve listened to it straight through literally hundreds of times, so I’m sure Fiona has affected my songwriting style, but I was never consciously pursuing that. Influential albums for me are more about the role they’ve had in my life than anything directly “artistic”. Her lyricism is tied so close to her core that the feelings she expresses become universal; you can’t listen without connecting when something is that earnest. Ages fourteen to sixteen was a difficult time for me as I’m sure it was for others, I had headphones in my ears all the time like a horse has blinders to keep from falling off course. Usually I was listening to Fiona. When The Pawn is a no-skips album, but some important tracks: ‘I Know’ (I can’t think of a song more beautiful), ‘Love Ridden’ (the first song I ever learned to cover on the piano; my crash course in figuring out chords ), and ‘Paper Bag’ (I mean, if you know you know).

Radiohead – Pablo Honey
I was driving somewhere with my dad, going through his CDs when I first put this on. I heard ‘Creep’ for the first time in his truck in 2002 and my eight year old brain was overcome. I remember thinking “wow, this is a good song, why don’t more people know about it?” at the time, which I think is funny. It’s not like I’ve heard it at every open mic I’ve been to since or anything. It got put into rotation as one of “Siv’s car CDs’ (along with ’90s classics from Natalie Merchant, Seal, and Jewel) when I was a kid. I’ve liked Radiohead ever since. My favourite album of theirs is probably OK Computer, but I think Pablo Honey has been more influential. It’s funny, even though I make fairly electronic music, my favourite albums by my favourite bands are often their most acoustic. Apart from the obvious, other favourite tracks include: ‘Thinking About You’ (excellent breakup track) and ‘Prove Yourself’ (fuel for my nascent angst).

The Supremes – Where Did Our Love Go?
Another group I discovered through my parents’ CD collection! I have a tendency to find artists I like, then absorb their entire discography before moving on to listening to anything else; I know a lot about a handful of bands and absolutely nothing about anyone else. Thinking back on these albums, I realise the first band I did that with was The Supremes. My favourite Supremes track, ‘I Hear A Symphony’, isn’t on Where Did Our Love Go, but everything that is on this record is stellar. The songs weren’t too hard to sing along with as a kid, which is what first hooked me. Their dreamy ’60s glamour and vocal harmonies sealed the deal. The warmth of all their recording equipment, too, you can’t find on modern recordings. Listening now, I focus on that warmth. I like Motown in general, but the songs written by Holland-Dozier-Holland for The Supremes and The Four Tops are the best. Where Did Our Love Go is my go-to happy music. As you can probably tell from the rest of this list, I don’t really do a lot of happy music. But catch ‘Baby Love’ on? I’m in a good mood. Top Tracks: ‘When The Lovelight Starts To Shine’ (The backing band! The exuberance! Just try not to sing along) and ‘Baby Love’ (Diana Ross’ lead vocals are stellar, and a little softer than some of the other songs on this album. I like her voice the most when it’s softer and you get to hear a little more of its texture). 

The National – Trouble Will Find Me 
An ex got me into The National, actually (wishin’ you nothing but the best, C). I vaguely knew of them but hadn’t dived in until then; their band name made them blend into miscellaneous sad-boy rock in my head. I used to teach in-home piano lessons and had a lot of time driving from house to house, so I’d pick up CDs and audiobooks from the library – Trouble Will Find Me was one of those. I have bands for all my feelings and The National is great for a numb sulk. The songwriting is impeccable, Matt Behringer’s voice is equal parts miserable and pacifying and that’s really what I look for in singing. Getting into The National helped my songwriting by showing me how beautiful simple, well executed ideas could be. Being a classically trained pianist, I erroneously looked down on structurally simple music earlier on. I’ve tried to go the other direction though, which I’m hoping comes through on the upcoming album. Trouble Will Find Me and Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers are tied as far as favoruite The National album goes, but I think I’ve listened to Trouble more overall. The lyrics are a little more cutting, they’re a little more polished. Top tracks: ‘This Is The Last Time’ (the coda gets me every time) and ‘Don’t Swallow The Cap’ (the entire thing is a bit stream of consciousness, it’s almost like a conversation you get sucked into).

Ex:re – Ex:re
A musician friend of mine, Brett Gleason, turned me on to Ex:re a couple years ago when this album first came out. It’s fantastically beautiful, heartbreaking, and intimate. For what it’s worth: the rest of the songs on this list I’ve known about for years and years, this one is the only new addition that makes the cut. Albums get tied to different times for me – re-listening to Ex:re makes me think of living in New York, crying about one thing while listening to Elena Tonra cry about something else. It’s more of a “stick around and face your problems” album than an “escape” album, which suits me better now than it might have a few years ago. Each of the songs is so well-crafted lyrically, and often touch upon difficult topics. ‘Romance’, for example, I believe is about assault and the aftermath of living with it in our society. It’s an unfortunately relatable topic for many, but not one often given that treatment in music which is frustrating. It’s refreshing to hear a song about love and betrayal from such a difficult perspective, it’s an achievement to be able to relay that. Favourite tracks: ‘The Dazzler’ (a languid, sharp-tongued dream), and the aforementioned ‘Romance’ (but only if you’re ready to be emotionally devastated). 

Massive thanks to Siv Disa for sharing her Five Favourites with us! Watch her brand new video for ‘Music In The Streets’ below:

Dreamhouse, the debut album from Siv Disa, is set for release this Autumn via Trapped Animal Records.