INTERVIEW: ZAMILSKA

Dense, rhythmic, hypnotic beats and a fascination with levitation permeate the tracks on Polish producer ZAMILSKA‘s latest album, UNCOVERED, which is set for physical release on 19th July. Her jagged soundscapes combine techno textures and intriguing vocal samples to reflect “the anxiety of what we want vs what we get”. With her enviable ability to create beats that ricochet around our skulls, we wanted to know more about ZAMILSKA. We caught up with the Producer to talk about the inspiration behind her new record, her upcoming live shows in London (The Shacklewell Arms on 2nd August & Visions Festival on 3rd August), and to find out the details of her previous collaboration with Gazelle Twin

How did you first get in to creating electronic music?
I didn’t choose this profession, it chose me. I cannot see myself doing anything else. I’ll skip the “I have always known I will deal with music” story. It’s all true but a bit of a cliche. I always wanted to be a Rockstar, play bass or drums, throw them into the audience and break them on stage. At fifteen I got my first computer. After stumbling upon Bjork’s Post album, I knew I would be making electronic music and somehow mixing in my inspirations for rock’n’roll and world music. It took many years of hard work to get here, there were moments when I didn’t have much to eat. But I am here, talking to you. Hard work pays off, and if you think something is impossible in life – maybe you just do not want it.

What’s the industrial/electronic music scene like in Poland where you’re from? Are there gig nights or venues who champion the genre?
Perhaps it will sound surprising, but I really do not part take in the “scene”. When I am home I like to stay in, enjoy the quiet. That, of course, doesn’t mean that I stay oblivious to what is happening musically in Poland. I love Resina, with all my heart – cellist, who is extremally talented. Also, I am a big fan of artists such as: Syny, Coals, and Księżyc. The Polish music scene is getting better. We just need to stop looking and trying to follow the West, create our own sound.

Your latest album UNCOVERED is about the concept of levitation. Talk us through this theme, it’s quite a unique concept.
The concept of levitation came up during the album cover design. It was as if a remaining piece of the puzzle fell in place and the entire story came together as whole. It’s about something malevolent that you want to leave your body, come out of you so you can start with a clean slate. Exorcisms, voodoo – all that is on the album. UNCOVERED is a story about cleansing, dropping weight off your shoulders. A fall with an attempt to rise. Ultimately, you do not know if the person is falling or rising.

Do you have a favourite track on the album? If so, why?
That’s a great question. I have never thought about it. When I was making the album, I had a different favorite track every day. The ending of ‘Done’ would almost make me cry. Perhaps ‘Hollow’. I’ve heard someone on the radio saying that it’s the biggest pop banger I have ever created. I like the entire album, it is a story that only makes sense as a whole. And you need to know that it is odd for me to like something in its entirety.

You’re coming over to the UK in August to play a headline show at The Shacklewell Arms. What Are your anticipations for this gig?
I am really excited to come back to London. Playing live shows is so rewarding after all the time spent in the studio. Finally, being able to perform in front of live audience. I try not to anticipate; each show is different. You can play in a large venue and something does not feel right and you can play the show of your life in front of a thirty people audience. People are most important. I really like London as a city, I’ve spent some time there. I hope people show up and enjoy the show.

You’re also going to be playing a set at Visions festival. How are you feeling about that? Any artists you’re aiming to catch on the day?
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to see anyone on the day of my show. But if you can you should see Shygirl. It is a very special show. I saw her in Poland, she is a very cheeky girl on stage.

You host your own radio show on Polish national digital radio. Talk us through what kind of music you play, and how you came to work in radio.
I was invited as a guest on one of the radio shows, we were talking about music, and I kind of took over as a host. Radio execs liked my voice and offered me my own show. However, I just resigned from hosting. I wanted to focus on my own work, with UNCOVERED coming out I didn’t want compromise the quality of the radio show. Becoming a radio host was my childhood dream, but it was getting harder to focus on my projects and sift through fifty albums weekly, in order to choose music for radio. And since I presented music from undefined electronics, from distant corners of the World, novelties and sounds of the 50’s, I couldn’t compromise, after two years, I had to resign. I’d like to return to Polish Radio, if they want me back, as soon as I settle all my present affairs.

You remixed Gazelle Twin’s track ‘Belly of the Beast’ which was featured in the ABC series How To Get Away With Murder. Talk me through the creative process for that – how did you make your mark on her already very unique sounding track? (we’re big fans so please give loads of detail)
You want the details? So you need the entire story. In 2014 my debut album Untune placed twelfth on The Quietus’ list of albums of the year. Gazelle Twin topped the chart with Unflesh. I’d never heard of her, but the title and cover got me curious. A woman charting that high – I thought that she must be wonderful, you know “girl power” – had to be noted. I instantly fell in love. I thought she was genius. Soon after a Glasgow promoter invited both of us to play and The Quietus got involved in promotion of the show – serendipity. I would finally be able to see how she really looked under the pantyhose mask. It turned out we shared a dressing room.

I was extremely nervous to meet her in person. To the point that my manager had to just usher me into the room. Elizabeth tuned out to be a wonderful woman. I admire her in every inch. She mentioned that she was releasing Unflesh remixed and offered cooperation. I asked if it would be ok if I remixed ‘Belly of the Beast’ and so it began. I never anticipated such good response to this track. In my opinion the original is brilliant, so it was very difficult to change anything. I decided not to add but rather strip it down. Kind of echoed the sound. Instead of reverb – just a hint of dirt and bass. Only a little, not to mess with the genius.

Nine Inch Nails also recommended one of your tracks on their official Spotify playlist. How did you feel about that?
NIN are the music of my youth. I admired them during every stage of their career. They were the best example of an innovative band. A combination of heavy sound with electronic, dirty hits. It is kind of as if Jesus came down from heaven. Only you never believed in God. I didn’t want this to get into my head. I suppressed it, didn’t want this to mess with my head and make me think that’s me done. You know, the idea that Nine Inch Nails know you exist!

Finally, If you had to describe your music in three words, what would they be?
Distracted and inspired by everything…

Huge thanks to ZAMILSKA for answering our questions!

Order your copy of Zamilska’s album UNCOVERED here.

ZAMILSKA UK Tour Dates 2019
02/08/19 – The Shacklewell Arms, London
03/08/19 – Visions Festival, London

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Five Favourites: Sui Zhen

Set to release her upcoming third album in September, Melbourne artist Sui Zhen has recently captivated our ears with latest single ‘Perfect Place’. Inspired by how we exist in the digital age, the track flows with glitchy, playful beats and twinkling, ‘80s-inspired hooks alongside Zhen’s quirky, honey-sweet vocals. An instantly infectious slice of sparkling alt-pop.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a new band/artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Sui to talk about her ‘Five Favourites’ – five albums or tracks that have influenced her songwriting techniques, or simply take her back to a specific feeling or time. Read about her choices here…

Strawberry Switchblade – Strawberry Switchblade 
This album has been a staple in my record bag since it was gifted to me by a friend in Koenji, Tokyo. I love how the songs are naive and saccharine but sad and melancholic underneath, expressed in a synth-pop style with layered reverberant vocals reminiscent of an upbeat Cocteau Twins. My favourite is the banality captured in ‘Who Knows What Love Is’ – it’s totally nostalgic for a crush that once was. It reminds me of the first time I smelt the pages of Dolly Mag, peeling back the ‘Sealed Section’ section. I enjoy the instrumental arrangements and danceable aspect of this kind of pop music and love to mix this in a set to get people feeling warm and fuzzy.

The Eurythmics – ‘Love Is A Stranger’
It’s really difficult to choose songs by Annie Lennox – my Mum loved her music, so her solo albums Diva and Medusa hold a very special place in my heart, but for me it would have started with The Eurythmics – ‘Love Is A Stranger’. I don’t know how many times I have listened to this song, particularly the part “And it wrenches you up and you’re left like a zombie!” when her voice is wild and so expressive, but the beat remains hard, driving yet restrained. The hooks feel so natural – it’s the kind of songwriting I aspire to make someday. I also love how the track just fades out. Like, seeya my job here is done.

Antena – Camino Del Sol
I think the first moment I properly was able to hear how I could complement my songwriting style with drum machine beats came with listening to Antena over and over. Prior to that I experimented with electronic production based on the music I enjoyed hearing at clubs, but couldn’t work out the best approach when I would go to work on something. An audience member told me to check Isabelle Antena’s music because they thought it would be a good reference point, but I couldn’t easily find it at the time (mid-2000s). It wasn’t until I started record shopping in Japan that I was able to connect more with the ‘neo-folk’ synth-pop of Antena and other artists like Anna Domino and Scribble. The bossa nova style guitar over a thumping kick is something I have carried into my productions thanks to this band.

CAN – ‘Future Days’
This is literally my go to take-off music. I listen to Can or Dunkelziffer when flying, there’s something about krautrock that settles me and helps me when drifting in and out of sleep. I find the stream of consciousness flow and spontaneity in the music so dreamlike and also very comforting, grounded in unfiltered expression. Emotion is throughout, but not the centrepiece, and I like that. There’s a free kind of optimism to this track too which makes it so listenable. 

Sugar Cubes – ‘Deus’
I absolutely slammed the Sugar Cubes in my teenage years. I had exhausted Bjork’s back catalogue from way too many listens and moved into her previous work and found I enjoyed it more on repeat listen. It had a bit more space, was a bit looser, less intensely emotional and uncomfortable. I love the pairing of male & female vocal in this track. I don’t listen to Bjork at all these days, even though at the time I thought there was no better artist. I remember trying to sing like her in the shower and Mum making fun of me for trying to do that iconic guttural thing. It was definitely around this time, aged fifteen, I subconsciously decided to pursue music.

Massive thanks to Sui for taking the time to discuss her choices. However, as she found it difficult to pick just five, we’ve also put together a little playlist of all the songs that she felt have impacted her work in some way – listen on Spotify now!

Losing, Linda, the upcoming album from Sui Zhen, is out 27th September via Cascine. Watch the video for latest single ‘Perfect Place’ below:

Photo Credit: Agnieszka Chabros

Five Favourites: Julia Church

Having recently graduated from Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, and even working on a one-to-one songwriting session with Sir Paul McCartney, South African artist Julia Church is both a talented songwriter and producer.

Crafting electronic production together with real instrumentation, she has now shared her brand new single ‘Tremble’. Manifesting the power of desire, it flows with the subtle power of Church’s emotion-strewn vocals as sweeping melodies and luscious musical layers build to an anthemic slice of sparkling pop with a euphoric, soulful groove. Of the track, Church explains:

It’s about the thrill and intrigue of a budding relationship, being in the moment and completely losing yourself with someone who makes you feel something totally new and exciting.”

 

To add more context to Julia’s work, we asked her to discuss her Five Favourite songs or albums, and how they’ve influenced her. Read all about her choices below:

Little Dragon – ‘Twice’
I think this song is so clever and haunting in the way that it never resolves. There is this palpable tension that builds throughout the song and never stabilises – and I love that. This song made me fall in love with the simple piano/vocal combination, and proves that great songs are often the ones that are the most simple. The lyrics are also bizarrely beautiful and it inspired a song I wrote called ‘Shiloh’, which will be out later this year. 

Bon Iver – ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’
This was the first bit of music that ever made me cry. I watched the video of Bon Iver performing it at the piano and was so taken aback by the way it made me feel. I heard it at a point of my life where I was feeling pretty vulnerable and, up until then, I had never heard something more relatable that just made me feel understood. The song was a classic long before Bon Iver covered it, but there was just something about Justin Vernon’s raw and powerful vocal on this that took me somewhere else and made me want to write songs forever.

James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical (album)
When I look through the discography of this album, I am instantly reminded of little moments in my life that are so intertwined with these songs. To me, this album represents my late teenage years and a strange but fundamental chapter of my life. Every song has such depth and purpose and ‘Cavalier’ and ‘Red Dust’ are probably two of the most nostalgic songs to me ever!

Leon Bridges – ‘Shy’
This song is so simple but genuinely one of the most addictive pieces of music I’ve ever heard. It’s so well written and to-the-point, plus Leon Bridge sings so damn beautifully and with such soul. He’s a big inspiration to me, especially when it comes to songwriting but this is hands-down my favourite song of his. It’s one that I will probably listen to for the rest of my life and never get tired of. Also the little guitar riff that repeats throughout is so tasteful and groovy.

Jamie Woon – ‘Sharpness’
I swear the first time I heard this I wanted to scream. I can whole-heartedly say that I have never found a groove to be more infectious than that of ‘Sharpness’. Jamie Woon and his band are all such phenomenal musicians and the arrangements of his songs are total genius, but this one is just next level in my opinion. This song has influenced my production and drum programming in particular, it makes me want to be a better producer and I truly admire artists who have that effect on me.

Big thanks to Julia Church for sharing her ‘Five Favourites’ with us. Her new single ‘Tremble’ is out now.

Five Favourites: Grawl!x

Having previously received acclaim for their previous three albums, including last year’s Appendix, Derby-based Grawl!x, aka James Machin, has now shared their bewitching new single, ahead of playing at Indietracks festival later this month.

A collaboration with Umbilica’s Jo Lewis, ‘Epicene’ is a soaring, cinematic soundscape exploring discussions of gender, sexuality, feminism and the role of allies. Flowing with twinkling electronic hooks and spellbinding harmonies, it’ll send shivers down the spine, oozing its poignant, sweeping emotion. Of the track, Machin explains: “… [gender] is an issue I’ve wanted to explore in a musical dialogue for quite some time. It’s quite alarming when you realise how great the gender disparity is and how our culture is divided in binary terms.”

We think one of the best ways to get to know a new artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place, so we caught up with James to talk about their ‘Five Favourites’. Identifying as non-binary, they have recently started performing as ))Maria(( too, and so has chosen five inspiring tracks that reference or subvert gender in some way. Check out their choices below, and watch the new video for ‘Epicene’ at the end of this post.

Anna Meredith – ‘Varmints’
In life, one is rarely afforded the opportunity to have a proper “WHAT
THE F**K AM I LISTENING TOO?!!” moment, but this was definitely one of them. A DJ friend of mine Russell played this at a local bar called Sudz &
Soda, and I was just blown away. It has such a majestic, foreboding
quality. Even when the beat drops, you don’t quite know whether to Dirty
Wine Squat or crumple into a husk of tears. Strictly speaking, I don’t
think it’s about gender but given the lack of vox, it could be! This definitely inspired our song ‘Epicene’. Meredith is an incredible composer
who never fails to make me feel like a backwards country bumpkin’
creatively speaking.

Princess Nokia – ‘Tomboy’
What a banger!! I asked my pal Ruth Hindle (who did the artwork for
‘Epicene’ as it happens) what the kids were listening too. She said she
didn’t know, but gave a lovely list of grime & trap tracks she likes. I
love this track so much. Princess Nokia just seems like such a strong role model.
Apart from embracing that age old gender stereotype with thoughtful
lyrics; she does it such aplomb and fun, it’s impossible to resist.
Although, dancing to this, a person of my age tends to
silence my desire to yell “my little titties & my fat belly” at the top
of my lungs. Awkward!!

Michelle Gurevich – ‘I’ll Be Your Woman’
ANOTHER friend of mine turned me onto this. Come to think of it, all my
friends tend to have pretty great taste! Gave me some proper Lynchian
chills. This song is just sooooo sultry, and the imagery masterfully plays with
gender assumptions, albeit in a slightly off-kilter kinda way. Her voice
is super androgynous too and, being non-binary I just love the both-ness of
it all. Top job Chinawoman!!

Charli XCX – ‘Boys’
Considering how crazy popular she is, it’s probably somewhat unnecessary
for me to help out, but I just love this song so much! Despite being everywhere, I missed it when it first came out then found the video on YouTube and had to rewatch it several dozen times. Once I got over how fun and lovely and
saucy it is, I then realised how clever and sparse the composition was with the 8bit business at work. Really amazing production. BANGER!!! And, although in the context of this list, it doesn’t so obviously subvert gender (the title clearly defines that), the idea of kinda objectifying men is done really well, and switches things around a bit.

SOPHIE – ‘Infatuation’
Speaking of amazing production, here is someone who again is properly
taking electronic music to a new level. By virtue of her current status,
I think she is helping change folks’ perceptions about gender. I could
have picked any off the record but this track is my favourite, mainly because
of the opening chords. Quite melancholy – what I’m a sucker for. It takes
you on a proper sonic traverse somewhere horrifically pretty. YAYAY!!!

Massive thanks to James for discussing their Five Favourites with us!

‘Epicene’ is out 19th July via Reckless Yes. Watch the new video here:

 

Queens Of Punk: Poly Styrene & Jordan, The British Library, 04.07.19

Last night I was lucky enough to go along to a very special night celebrating Queens Of Punk at The British Library. Hosted by self proclaimed ‘Professor Of Punk’, Vivien Goldman, the panel discussed the release of two books about two of the most legendary ‘queens of punk’: Defying Gravity: Jordan’s Story and Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story

Prior to talking to the authors, Goldman (also having recently released her own book Revenge Of The She Punks) delivers a poignant and stirring introduction, describing both Jordan and Poly Styrene as “prophetic” in the topics they addressed through their work, asserting that the most important aspect of punk was that women finally found a voice. Considering artists such as Jordan and Poly Styrene, as well as bands such as The Slits and The Raincoats, this would certainly seem true – the 1970s seeing these women coming to the fore and finally being heard. 

And now, nearly 50 years later, when we’ve witnessed almost a regression in politics and equal rights, the spirit of punk – and in particular these strong female voices – is needed now more than it has been for decades. 

To be honest, I hadn’t really been aware of Jordan’s prominence in the world of punk before tonight, and so her discussion with Goldman was both enlightening and inspiring. Describing how she wanted to create herself as a work of art, the way she dressed becoming a part of who she was, she explains that being self aware was a major part of being ‘punk’; it was about being aware of you are and “not giving a damn” what other people thought – a community for people who didn’t fit the mould. And, hearing her talk about her vibrant fashion choices (and work in in Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s ground-breaking boutique, SEX, then Seditionaries and, later, World’s End), and position as a woman in the industry at the time, it becomes clear just how courageous and innovative she has been. 

Discussing the writing of the book, Jordan’s co-writer Cathi Unsworth (Sounds, Bizarre, The Guardian), describes their writing process as like making a dress; together they cut and pieced together Jordan’s memories to fit a narrative. However, Unsworth asserts that this wasn’t difficult, as Jordan is just like a person she’d invent to be a heroine of a novel, her life being filled with fearless adventure and outrageous events. Whatever the process of writing, it seems to have worked; Goldman describing Defying Gravity as like a “window into the [punk] culture”. 

Asserting how “punk encapsulated everybody”, Jordan credits the gay clubs of Brighton and the role of the gay community in helping her feel comfortable in who she was, before discussing her work with Derek Jarman (he cast her as the ferocious Amyl Nitrate in his 1978 film Jubilee) – who she describes as oozing the essence of punk, as he didn’t care what anyone thought – and Adam Ant. Of the later, she recalls a night at The Roundhouse where Adam and The Ants were playing alongside X Ray Spex… 

And so to Celeste Bell and Zoë Howe (Typical Girls? The Story of the Slits; Stevie Nicks: Visions, Dreams & Rumours) who worked together on Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story. Having initially met Zoë when she was writing her book about children of ‘rockstars’ –‘How’s Your Dad?’ Living in the Shadow of a Rock Star Parent – Celeste decided to write a book about her mother on realising she had a large archive of material from Poly Styrene’s life, that had mostly been in the hands of her old manager prior to her death. Including artwork, diary entries, and hundreds of unrecorded lyrics, as well as letters that Celeste has since written to her mother, Howe explains that they put the memories and archive together like “one big conversation”, trying to reflect Poly’s character as much as possible. 

As well as the book, Howe and Bell have also recently been working on a documentary about Poly Styrene: Poly Styrene – I Am A Cliché. Directed by Paul Sng, the film includes never-seen-before footage of Poly throughout her life, as well as interviews with other people in the industry including Kathleen Hanna and Thurston Moore, about the great influence she had on them. We’re lucky enough to be treated to an exclusive showing of the trailer, and it looks like it’s going to be a wonderful watch! 

Resuming the discussion about the book, Celeste opens up about her mother’s struggle with having Bipolar Disorder, and other people’s perception of her as being ‘psychic’. Celeste explains that her mother was very intuitive and would soak up any energy that was around her, which would often aid her creative process – her feelings being transformed into poetry – but could be psychologically difficult to deal with. 

Celeste continues to explain that her mother had had mixed feelings about her following in her footsteps and making music; although she encouraged her daughter to learn to play instruments, she was concerned about Celeste being a woman in a sexist industry, having being affected by her own experiences. Throughout her career, for example, Poly Styrene had always been described by journalists and others in the industry as “not conventionally beautiful”, which often had a negative impact on her state of mind; as Celeste explains, her mother would get extremely frustrated by the industry’s focus on her looks rather than the work she was creating, and – in any case – she was “fucking beautiful!” no matter what anyone else said. 

Recalling another instance of the industry’s ingrained sexism, Howe describes how a certain review of an X Ray Spex show seemed to pit Poly and saxophonist Lora Logic against each other, making out that Logic was the star of the show. Celeste describes how much this upset her mother, resulting in Lora being sacked from the band. This is a prime example of how the industry has, and continues to, pit females against each other, purely because of their gender, judging them on appearance, playing on insecurities, rather than focusing on the music being created. Lora and Poly, however, reunited years later, when they were both part of the Hare Krishna movement, and even performed together at Glastonbury.

It’s not only inspiring to hear about all the incredible steps Poly Styrene took as, not only a woman, but a woman of colour, in the world of punk, but particularly moving to hear Celeste talk about her mother and their relationship. Although rose-tinted spectacles are firmly off, it’s wonderful to hear her talk about Poly Styrene not only as the innovative figure for women in music that she remains to this day, but as a mother and a person.

Hearing about both Defying Gravity: Jordan’s Story and Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story, and all the pivotal steps that these women before us have taken in a quest to be heard, leaves me feeling inspired and motivated. As Goldman said at the beginning of the evening, now is certainly the time to revive the punk spirit, to unite and overcome adversity: we need strong figures like Poly and Jordan now more than ever. 

Defying Gravity: Jordan’s Story and Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story are both out now via Omnibus Press. 

Mari Lane
@marimindles

FIVE FAVOURITES: Sarasara

One Little Indian Records signee Sarasara is set to release her second album Orgone on the 5th of July which she co-produced with Liam Howe of label-mates Sneaker Pimps (Nülifer Yanya, FKA Twigs, Tom Vek, Lana Del Rey) and it looks set to be a versatile, experimental delight.

Sung mostly in French and dealing with themes of suicidal thoughts, existentialism and meditation, Sarasara moved from Paris to Margate at the beginning of 2018 to write her new record, which features collaborative tracks with Peter Doherty of The Libertines. We caught up with Sarasara ahead of her headline show at St Pancras Old Church on Thursday 4th July (tickets here) to talk about her “Five Favourite” albums – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below…

1. Malik Djoudi – Cinema
I’ve discovered Malik’s music recently when he played with me in New York at France Rocks festival, the very first show of my Orgone tour. I fell in love instantly, his live show was so good and his songs so catchy. Me and my team are currently touring in Asia and Europe and we’ve been listening to him like crazy people. His definitely part of our tour playlist.

2. ASAP ROCKY – Testing
I love a bit of American rap & hip hop sometimes. I think this one is a bit of a UFO, I look forward to it every-time I listen to Testing, the album, I love the vibe, it takes you back to America. I would love to work on a rap project at some point, I have absolutely no idea how, but I love the idea of a new challenge, it’s exciting.

3. Tricky – False Idols
I’ve always been a fan of Massive Attack, Tricky solo projects included, and it is an absolute honour to have had my production sound compared to his, but it was never my plan when I started to write music. Lately, I’ve been thinking there’s probably something for me to learn from this because it keeps coming up, and I’ve been digging into his old albums again. False Idols and Adrian Thaws are two masterpiece albums for me. ‘Parenthesis’ is one of my favorite songs ever.

4. Garbage – Garbage
I’ve been listening to Garbage since I was a teenager. I discovered them when I was maybe 12, 13 years old, via Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, Shirley Manson was playing a gig at the Bronze, which is the music venue where the Scooby gang goes every night. It made me want to dig into their music. Then I discovered Garbage and Garbage 2.0 which are two brilliant albums. At that time for me, Shirley Manson was really impressive and I was seeing her as a role model, a powerful front woman, a rebel. She was singing boldly, screaming stuff like “Make the beat go harder”, wearing crazy outfits in crazy music videos. That’s what I was feeling like at that time, rebel and raw. I remember I got kicked out of school for several days because I arrived there one day with bright pink hair, nose piercing and massive boots, I just wanted to look like her but teachers thought it was “a bit much” . Anyway, I heard the song ‘Milk’ several times randomly while on tour, so I’m listening to the album G again.

5. MONOLOC – Drought
I’ve got a thing for dark techno. I’ve been following Sascha since his debut on Chris Liebing Recordings. I love his way of incorporating techno music and his aesthetics. I can feel soul in his productions, there’s the dark and raw side, but there’s also always a touch of gentleness somehow. I love the combination of both. I think he definitely stands out from the crowd. I am really honoured and proud that he remixed my single ‘Blood Brothers’, first extract of my upcoming album Orgone, the result is stunning. I can’t wait for it to be released.

Thanks to Sarasara for sharing her choices with us. Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Playlist: 50 Years Of Pride

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots which triggered the modern LGBTQ+ liberation movement in the US and beyond. On the 28th June 1969, the bar’s patrons clashed with police officers in a raid that was not uncommon during that era. However, this time they’d had enough, this time the patrons fought back. Two people in particular made a significant impact that night but the history books often forget – two transgender women of colour named: Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

This night lit a match underneath the modern LGBTQ+ movement we see living on worldwide in Pride celebrations, protests and marches today.

So much has happened in the last 50 years both in favour and against the LGBTQ+ communities; in my lifetime alone I’ve seen the World Health Organisation declassify same-sex attraction as a mental illness, I’ve seen Section 28 being repealed, and equal marriage being passed into law but I’ve also seen a significant increase in the levels of isolation and loneliness within the LGBTQ+ communities, and the number of homophobic, and especially transphobic, hate crimes more than doubling in the last 5 years.

50 years on from the Stonewall Riots we have seen progress, but we are not at the finish line yet! As trans activist Charlie Craggs said “trans women of colour need you to fight for them the way they fought for you 50 years ago, there is still more to be done, the battle is not over.”

Which is why at Pride this year as I march in the parade, I will be marching to celebrate everything we have achieved and I will be protesting for everything that is to come because our mantra is: we’re here, we’re queer and yes sometimes we’re afraid, but we are never ashamed because we are proud of who we are!

– Tash Walker

To mark this momentous anniversary, Tash, Mari and Kate have put together some tunes to celebrate LGBTQ+ liberation, as we continue to push for progress. Read about our chosen tracks and have a listen below! 

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.
Tash Walker

Le Tigre – ‘Keep On Livin’
Pioneers of queer culture, Le Tigre’s ‘Keep On Livin’ remains a motivational anthem to anyone going through a hard time. Inspired by the feelings surrounding both ‘coming out’ as a survivor of sexual abuse, and coming out as gay, lesbian, bi or trans, it’s a pure cathartic release of emotion.
Mari Lane

Robyn – ‘Dancing On My Own’
Robyn is an outspoken ally for LGBTQ+ rights. I think it is important to recognise the role that allies play within LGBTQ+ history and the movement’s continued fight for equality.
TW

Lady Gaga – ‘Born This Way’
A dance-floor filling anthem that celebrates self-acceptance.
Kate Crudgington

RuPaul – ‘Sissy That Walk’
Pioneering drag queen RuPaul’s message of self love and motivation is encapsulated in this uplifting anthem, as she sings one of her classic mottos: “Unless they paying your bills, pay them bitches no mind.”
ML

Planningtorock – ‘Non Binary Femme’
This track summed up 2018 for me, a year that gave with free abundance in good music, in particular Planningtorock’s album Powerhouse. Any album that uses the language Non-Binary Femme in the title of the song is unarguably paving the way for not only a greater/better understanding of what these words and this sort of language means, but also for it to become a fully accepted part of everyday conversation.
TW

Princess Nokia – ‘Tom Boy’
Openly queer rapper and all round inspiration, Princess Nokia writes powerful, feminist anthems promoting self love and body positivity, refusing to fit into stereotypical gender norms.
ML 

Mykki Blanco (feat. Princess Nokia) – ‘Wish You Would’
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 an incredible artist and I love his music.
TW

Syd – ‘All About Me’
One of my favourite tracks from Syd who is openly LGBTQ+ and you may know from the excellent collective The Internet.
TW

Shura – ‘2shy’
I just love this track from London artist Shura, who has been consistently challenging stereotypes since she came out as a lesbian a couple of years ago and helping to “queer the mainstream”. Bring on the blurring of gender and sexuality in pop!
TW

Jackie Shane – ‘Any Other Way’
A pioneer for transgender rights in the late 60s, Jackie Shane lived her life as a woman in the spotlight, during a time when compassion and acceptance were not always reciprocated towards those who identified as trans.
KC

Cyndi Lauper – ‘True Colours’
An uplifting anthem often associated with the LGBTQ+ community, ‘True Colours’ openly asserts for us to love ourselves for who we are. Lauper has often dedicated the song to a friend of hers who died from HIV/AIDs, and has since co-founded the ‘True Colours’ fund – a non-profit that educates people on LGBTQ issues and helps to end homelessness for LGBTQ youth.
ML

King Princess – ‘1950’
Something that I am really proud of here in the UK is the latest generation of LGBTQ+ people, who continually amaze me with their openness and their acceptance of how others identify in their sexuality and gender identity, so different from when I was growing up. ‘1950’ by King Princess is an excellent example of the progression we have made throughout the last 60 years.
TW

Anna Calvi – ‘Don’t Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy’
Anna Calvi describes this track as being “beyond definition”, because queerness is beyond definition. Her whole Hunter album celebrates what it is to be queer in a wonderfully honest, binary-destroying way. Summing it up, she explains: “I want to go beyond gender. I don’t want to have to chose between the male and female in me.”
ML

Bang Bang Romeo – ‘Shame On You’
Fronted by loud and proud lesbian Stars, Bang Bang Romeo completely blew us away with their immense soulful power and compelling charisma when playing Cro Cro Land earlier this year.
ML

Dream Nails – ‘Deep Heat’
A hex on Donald Trump and the patriarchy in general, our fave DIY punks Dream Nails know how to boost up their community in times of need.
KC

The Menstrual Cramps – ‘The Smash’
Combining activism with musical prowess, and fully embracing queerness, The Menstrual Cramps provide a captivating, empowering force that we all need now more than ever.
ML

T-Bitch – ‘Dressing Up’
Southend riot grrrl punks T-Bitch celebrate all things trans, queer & glam!
KC

T-Bitch EP by T-Bitch

Queen Zee – ‘Boy’
One of the most relevant (and joyful) bands around at the moment. I’d put them on every playlist if it was up to me!
KC

Ezra Furman – ‘Suck The Blood From My Wound’
Openly bisexual and androgynous artist Ezra Furman’s latest album Transangelic Exodus really knocked my for six in its spine-tingling beauty and raw emotion. This track is particularly stirring, its concept serving as a metaphor for queer liberation and the defiance of the underdog.
ML

Grace Petrie – ‘Black Tie’
Addressing the damaging effects of enforced gender norms, this is an empowering and uplifting offering, addressing a younger self with reassuring lyrics such as “I swear there’ll come a day when you won’t worry what they say, on the labels, on the doors, you will figure out what’s yours.”
ML

Janelle Monae – ‘Pynk’
A brash celebration of creation. Self love. Sexuality. And p-ssy power!  Need I say more.
TW

Frank Ocean – ‘Chanel’
Such a great song. As you may or may not know, Frank Ocean came out back in 2012 to mixed but mainly positive responses.
TW

Queen – ‘Love Of My Life’
Just a heartbreaking love song written by the legendary Freddie Mercury. Once, when asked about his sexuality, Mercury replied with “I’m gay as a daffodil, my dear!”. A brave statement to make back in 1974.
ML 

Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy’
This track was released in 1984 at the height of the AIDS crisis by openly gay Bronski Beat, ‘Smalltown Boy’ is a heartbreaking story given an empowering beat.
TW

Anthony & The Johnsons – ‘For Today I Am A Boy’
A stirring and powerful ode to the journey of transitioning, a simply exquisite creation.
ML

Have a listen to, and follow, our 50 Years Of Pride playlist, here:

 

Tash Walker / @maudeandtrevor
Mari Lane / @marimindles
Kate Crudgington / @kcbobcut