INTERVIEW: Lilith Ai

Self-described as “a singer-songwriter who performs poignant tales of modern city life,” Lilith Ai writes relatable guitar tunes exploring turbulent emotions in a humble and engaging way. When I catch up with her via Zoom, she’s sat on a comfy looking bean-bag in the music shed which she’s currently sound proofing. She tells me she’s spent her morning at a power-pump weightlifting exercise class, because she’s keen to feel healthy again after “basically just eating pies” throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. We laugh about how everyone buried their feelings in take-away food instead of dealing with the mental toll of multiple lockdowns in 2020.

Modest, self-deprecating but incredibly warm and open to talking about all aspects of her life and art, Lilith speaks to me about her recent album, Folk You Hard, her upcoming performance at Loud Women Fest – who just awarded her their prestigious Hercury Prize Award – and what drives her to keep creating music despite the many challenges that life brings…

Hello Lilith! Who or what first inspired you to start making music?

I think I’ve always made music, but I don’t know what first inspired me. I wanted to be a writer when I was very little but I’m dyslexic so I couldn’t really write anything. I just liked to sing songs. I don’t think I’m naturally good at music. I know I have a nice sounding voice, but some people can pick up a song and play it on guitar the first time they hear it on the radio and I’m not like that. I wish I was like that! I’m actually better at art than I am at music, but I don’t enjoy it as much as I enjoy making music.

I grew up with a lot of stress because I had so many learning disabilities, so school was difficult and my family life was really mad. I did a lot of extracurricular things that were not music. I had dance classes, I went to Brownies and Girl Guides, I did track running and I had art. Music was a thing that I didn’t tell anybody about. I just kind of did it in my brain and made songs up!

I’ve had a weird year where I’ve been doing a lot of therapy and I’ve had so many revelations about myself. I’ve had to kind of white knuckle most of my life until quite recently.

So, how did I get into music? I don’t know. I just I did it secretly until I joined a band. I was in a lot of really terrible bands and they all kept falling apart. So, in 2015/16 I just decided to do my own solo project. I didn’t really know how to play guitar at the time, so I was a bit shit. I was completely oblivious to that at the time though. I didn’t really know how terrible my playing was until I started playing on my own! I was like, “I need to be way better than this,” so I did a lot of gigs. A lot. Probably hundreds that were just not very good, but I don’t think it matters. I think a little bit of delusion is good as a musician. It doesn’t really matter how good you are at the start; you’ll get good eventually if you keep doing it.

Perseverance is key! You mentioned being in therapy, would you say creating your music has helped you make sense of things that have happened to you as well? Do you find writing songs can be quite cathartic for you? It seems that way on your most recent album, Folk You Hard.

The reason why I make music is because I want to connect with people. Because of the way I grew up, I really, really struggled to make friends. I have a best friend now, but it took me five or so years to really believe that she liked me when we were growing up, even though she wanted to hang out with me and called me every day! So, with music, I wanted to do something so that I could say “do you feel like this? Because I feel like this,” to other people.

Music is also a way of escaping for me too. Some of my songs are more like me being how I wish I was, rather than how I actually was at the time. You can still see me in them, but songs like ‘Rude Grrrl’ and ‘Riot’ are more what I want to be like. I want to be confident or strong. I think there was definitely a thing when I was writing Folk You Hard, where these things slowly toppled into who and where I am now. That album is just me being very frank about stuff. That’s the most frank I’ve ever been and I think I’m going to continue to try and do that.

But sometimes, I’m not thinking like that and I write stuff really quickly. I have a notebook that I put all of my ideas in and then when I’ve got enough ideas, I’ll sit down and be like, “okay, I’ll write a song now” and I’ll write it in half an hour. I wrote the song ‘Michaela Coel’ after watching her series I May Destroy You. I’ve always liked her ever since she did Chewing Gum and I did actually meet her at an event a couple of years ago. We talked about stuff and she was so amazing. So I just sat down and wrote that song. It doesn’t always happen like that, but sometimes it does.

That’s so cool, I think ‘Michaela Coel’ is one of my favourite songs on your album. Do you have a favourite song? If so, why?

I really like the single that I’m about to drop, ‘Bloodlines’, which is the first one I wrote for that record. But I think my favourite is probably the last song I wrote which is ‘F’. It was very easy to write and I think I’m saying stuff on it that I haven’t really said before. They’re both kind of songs about my Mum, which is weird, because I have an estranged relationship with my Mum at the moment. But ‘F’ could also be about so many things. It’s written in the key of F, it’s about family and it’s also ‘F’ for “fuck” and for Folk You Hard.

Another song I love on the record is ‘Bare Radical’. I really like the lyric “I’m not bitter / I’m better” – it almost sounds like a mantra…

I mean, I’m not sure I am better, but I’m trying to be! It’s a continuous thing. That song is about dating a person who was just like, not the person. But I try to remember that everybody is on their own journey, I think very few people deliberately do things to be a dick. Though I know I need to get away from that person, I try not to be bitter…but it is hard!

The only way that you can “win” is to be like, “Okay, I’m actually genuinely going to be happy now” – that trumps everything. This is going to sound a bit weird, but I’ve wanted to join a gym for ages, but it’s so expensive and I knew it would take up a big chunk of my money. But I realised, if I was dating someone and they wanted that gym membership – I would probably give them the money, instead of spending it on myself. So, to be like “Oh, I need this! I’m going to buy this for myself because I deserve it,” you know? I want to look after myself and that is actually me “winning.” It definitely is a long process, I’m not 100% there yet, I’ve got a long way to go. All we can do is try to be better, to get away from toxic people and encourage toxic people to get help.

That’s genuinely good advice.

You’re going to be performing at Loud Women Festival on 18th September. There are so many GIHE faves performing too – ARXX, Vulpynes, Breakup Haircut, MIRI, Deux Furieuses, Jelly Cleaver, GENN, Sister Ghost – what bands are you looking forward to seeing on the day?

I think this is my fourth time playing the festival and I can’t wait. I really want to see Jelly Cleaver. I haven’t seen her play for ages. I really like her as a person too. MIRI, who I have seen lots of times and who I love, she’s really good. I’m excited to see ARXX as well. There are a lot of bands on the line-up who I don’t know, so I’m looking forward to hearing them as well. I’ll be there in the morning with soooo much merch – I’ve made my own bracelets and everything – so I’ll be there all day.

Great stuff. Finally, as we’re a new music blog, we always ask artists to recommend a few bands they’ve recently been listening to. Any suggestions?

One is Nathan Day who I really got into last year and I just think their music is amazing. It’s literally like someone reached into my head and made the music that I want to make. Probably my favourite song is ‘Fade Like You’ but they’re all good songs.

Pom Pom Squad are also so, so, so good! And Eliza Shaddad. I really want to go on tour with her!

Thanks to much to Lilith for chatting with us!

Follow Lilith Ai on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

Grab a ticket to see her live at Loud Women Fest 5 here

LIVE (Photos): LIINES @ The Grace, London, 09.09.2021

It’s been a long eighteen months, but gigs as we know and love them are slowly starting to return… Following an epic night capturing Berries at The Grace last month, our photographer Jon Mo returned to the North London venue last night to witness the swirling force of GIHE faves LIINES live.

Kicking off the night, Anna Vincent (Heavy Heart, Happyness) charmed the crowd with the glistening allure and heartfelt emotion of her lilting soundscapes. A perfectly dreamy start to the night.

Next up, previous headliners of more than one GIHE live night, ĠENN deliver an energy-fuelled set. Oozing their immense, empowering spirit alongside impressive riffs and racing beats, they never fail to enrapture the crowd with their unique charisma and buoyant spirit.

Celebrating the release of their potent new single, ‘Keep On Going‘, long-term faves and previous GIHE headliners LIINES don’t disappoint, blasting out their brooding, relentless sonic explosions with a frenetic sense of urgency. As Zoe’s distinctive raw vocals soar, the Manchester trio prove once again that they’re a truly sublime force to be reckoned with.

Photo Credit: Jon Mo / @jonmophoto

Introducing Interview: Dakota Jones

With acclaim from the likes of Afropunk and The Times already under their belts, New York’s Dakota Jones have just released their debut album Black Light. Priding themselves on their distinctive fusion of soul, rock and blues as they share their message of proud black heritage and triumphant queerness, the album touches on an eclectic mix of themes, ranging from sex and love to “the pleasure and pain of truly finding yourself“. Fronted by vocal powerhouse Tristan Carter-Jones, they create uplifting soundscapes, oozing a unique, empowering energy and infectious, vibrant groove.

We caught up with Tristan to find out more about the new album, how they’ve been connecting with their fans during the last couple of years and her feelings on being a queer, black woman in music at the moment. Have a read!

Hi Tristan, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 
Thank you for having me! I’ve always been drawn to the creative side of life – I’ve been making music seemingly forever on my own, and singing and writing has always been a part of my life. I actually studied playwriting in school, but singing in public was my greatest fear for the longest time. So I very much kept it to myself. It wasn’t really until the band formed that I felt the desperate urge to share our music, and put ourselves out there.

How did Dakota Jones initially get together and start creating music? 
We’ve been playing together since 2015. I’ve known our drummer, Steve, since 1999 actually – we were in elementary school together! In 2016, Steve and our former guitarist started jamming for fun, and they asked me to come around and sing with them some time, and I said absolutely not – I was terrified of singing in public, even just in front of the two of them. Eventually, Steve convinced me to come along, and we would just play covers of songs. It was a nerve wracking process for me, but I kept showing up. Scott, our bassist, was a friend of our guitarist and was pulled in to round out the sound and make a proper four piece. One day, just messing around, we ended up writing a song, a song called ‘Leave Me Alone’ from our first EP. We knew pretty immediately after that that this was what we should be doing, and we haven’t stopped since.

We love your feisty, soulful sounds and the message conveyed through your music of proud black heritage, but who would you say are your main musical influences? 
I think the sound of Dakota Jones is an amalgamation of our influences, with a modern edge to it. We’re rock, soul, the blues, R’n’B, sometimes hip-hop. Most people find it hard to put us in a box. I grew up on Marvin Gaye, Led Zeppelin, Chaka Khan, Rakim – classic soul and rock – and a lot of old school rap. Scott grew up on rock and roll and soul music, you can’t get him in a room without him mentioning Stevie Wonder at least once. And Steve is an alternative rock and rap kind of guy. Our music blends what we love, and we all come from different musical backgrounds and tastes. So, I think we know we have a solid song when we can all get equally excited about it.

You’ve just released your debut album Black Light – are you able to tell us a bit about this? Are there any particular themes running throughout the album? 
The whole album is a throwback to a different time, and is very centred in funk and soul sensibilities. We’ve always had a blues rock, soul lean to us, but this album, Black Light, really dives into a place of funk soul and everything that comes with it. There’s joy and dancing, sleek guitar licks and funky bass slaps. There’s pain and longing, and there’s the feeling of relief when you come out of that place and find your joy and purpose again. Black Light is my story. The pain of where I’ve been, and the joy of where I’m going.

And how have you found recording and promoting an album during these strange times? 
It’s been a trip. Earlier on during the pandemic, creating was very hard for me. I felt very bogged down by everything that was going on in the world, and didn’t know how to focus. But eventually the music started to pour out. Self promotion, I’ll admit, feels odd from time to time, but I pushed past that feeling because I think that, no matter what, music is a way to help people heal and get through their strange and dark times. And what I want most is to find a way to continue to connect with people, to continue to heal together, and get through this together. Sharing my music is the best way – and the only real way – that I know how to do that.

How have you been connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic? 
Instagram definitely helps, and social media has been a great way to stay connected to our audience and other musicians. Continually creating and sharing our work has been an amazing way to hear people’s thoughts about what’s going on right now, and how music has helped them to get through it. We’ve also been fortunate enough to play a few live shows since June of this year, so we’re able to actually get out there and be with our fans and other musicians during this time, and really share our experiences.

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, over the last couple of years? 
Every time someone reaches out to me and shares what our music has meant to them, that keeps me going. That keeps me pushing forward, and makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger than myself.

As a queer black woman in music, how do you feel the industry is for new artists at the moment? Do you feel much has changed over the last few years? 
I think that a lot has changed over the past few years, specifically with black and queer artists who are putting themselves out there, and creating a space for people like ourselves to make noise, and to be heard. I think that breaking through is always challenging, but it’s simpler than ever for artists to put their music out. That in and of itself helps to create these spaces for artists to listen to each other – find inspiration amongst their communities, and feel empowered.

And, as we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists or bands that you’d recommend we check out?
I’m lucky enough to be able to call some wonderful independent artists my friends: Blood Cultures, Darlin! The Band, Freakquencee, Lily Mao, Golden Alphabet – all wonderful artists with something to say, and very lovely people at that.

Finally, in addition to the release of your album, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for Dakota Jones? 
We have a few more music videos in the pipeline that will be coming out shortly, but our main focus is to continue to play live music, tour, and meet the wonderful audiences that continue to support us through this time. We’re hoping to get over to the UK as soon as possible to play some regional shows, and hopefully we’ll see you there when the time comes!

Massive thanks to Tristan for answering our questions! Watch the band’s latest video for ‘Lord Please’ here:


Black Light, the debut album from Dakota Jones, is out now – order/listen here.

Introducing Interview: Alice Hubble

Set to release her new album Hexentanzplatz this Friday, innovative London based artist Alice Hubble has previously captivated us with poignant singles such as ‘Power Play‘ and ‘My Dear Friend‘. With her distinctive euphoric, synth-driven energy and glitchy ‘80s-inspired musicality, we’re already huge fans of the soaring, ethereal soundscapes she creates.

Ahead of the release on Friday, we caught up with Alice to find out more about the album, what inspires her and her thoughts on the treatment of women and non-binary people in music at the moment… Have a read!

Hi Alice, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! Thank you, it’s great to be here! I’m Alice Hubble, an electronic pop musician, based in London, originally from Leeds. I make music with my collection of vintage synthesisers, which combines pastoral instrumentals and budget pop in equal measure. My first LP came out in 2019 and the second is coming out this month via Happy Robots.

What initially inspired you to start creating music?
It’s hard to think what initially inspired me to create music cause it feels like it’s always been there. I was one of those music nerd kids, always singing and playing in music groups. In my 20s and a lot of my 30s I was in various bands, albeit to very limited successes. In mid 2018 I decided to focus on my own solo musical creation and Alice Hubble as we know it was born. I’m very inspired by creating ‘otherly’ worlds in music, recreating my imagined worlds sonically. As a person, I’m always pushing to contradict expectations and I attempt to do this in my music. Writing lyrics can be a form of therapy for me to unpack my lived experiences, but I also write about things that matter to me – particularly a highly inclusive form of feminism.

You’re about to release your new album Hexentanzplatz at the end of this week – are you able to tell us a bit about this? Are there any particular themes running throughout the album? 
The album was recorded in October 2020, with half of the songs written during the lockdown in 2020. Though I chose to stay away from writing about the lockdown, I feel the unease and anxieties of the time are very present in the music. The album is called Hexentanzplatz, named after the German mountain. The mountain is steeped in magic and legend and is famous for its Walpurligsnacht celebrations. The name translates literally to mean Witches’ Dance Floor, which really is too perfect. Recurring themes on the LP are illusion, feminism and protest. Illusion creeps into my songs a lot, whether it’s a projected myth of an unbeknown subject of my affections, the illusions we create on social media or your re-imagination of a place in your head. I’ve always been fascinated about how a real place or moment can exist so differently in two people’s minds. 

And how have you found recording and promoting an album during these strange times? 
It’s definitely been strange, I’ve been lucky that the pandemic gave me more space to focus on my music – I was on furlough with my day job, so I had time to spend writing and recording at home. I got to travel to Germany and visit the Harz mountains and learn about Hexentanzplatz and then to Ramsgate in October to record the LP. I also got to play a gig in May just after things started to lift which was really great. I spent 2019 being so busy that I was burnt out, so spending a lot of 2020 focusing on my mental health and having a quiet time was really good for me. It also gave me the chance to record a collaborative EP with Bradford based musician Andy Abbott (under the name ADRA Hubble) and do things I thought I’d never have the confidence to do like host a Facebook chat show and start my radio show. It was disappointing to have things cancelled, but it wasn’t something I dwelled on too much, there were bigger tragedies of the pandemic. I very much see myself as one of the fortunate ones over the last year and feel grateful for what I achieved in this time.

We love your shimmering, euphoric electro soundscapes, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Thank you! Oh my, it’s hard to narrow down. The bands that have always been with me are the classic synth pop bands – Kraftwerk, OMD, New Order. The Beach Boys have also been such an influence to me. For Alice Hubble, sonically I’ve been inspired by Sally Oldfield, School of Seven Bells, Goldfrapp, Book of Love, Susan Sundfor, to name a few.

We have been particular fans of your recent single ‘Power Play’ – described as the closest thing you’ve written to a protest song, it’s inspired by the #MeToo movement. Are you able to tell us a bit more about this? And, in relation to this, how do you feel the music industry is for women/non-binary people at the moment – do you feel that things have improved over the last few years
Thank you! It means a lot to have people respond to the song. ‘Power Play’ is a track that was, on the whole, written in lockdown 1. I feel like a lot of anger and frustration that came out of that time was channeled into the track. At the time I’d looked at Twitter and seen that one of the musicians whose hideous behaviour had been a focus in the #metoo movement was back Tweeting and interacting with fans as normal. And it got me thinking “have things really changed? Do people move on to different things once the moment has passed?” It all started with the menacing synths and, as the track was so angry sonically, I wanted the lyrics to be a call to arms of some sorts. The mass hex of Brock Turner as an act of resistance and resilience (to quote the song) always really intrigued me as a form of activism and I read a lot around this to inform the lyrics. With the subject matter being so triggering, it was a song that needed careful consideration to get just right. It’s definitely getting better for women/non-binary people in the industry but there is still a long way to go. There is better representation generally – I just came back from Green Man where there were so many amazing women/non- binary performers at the festival. There’s also a greater understanding of mental health awareness, and discussions taking place about what behaviours in the industry are not helpful for women/non-binary people. The male ego power-trip that was accepted as the norm for years is now being recognised for what it is, and there are people in the industry trying to make changes. My brother is trans, so naturally trans rights is an issue close to my heart. I have noticed there is more awareness in the general public of trans and non-binary people compared to twenty years ago, which is great. But I feel there is still a long way to go, and a lot of educating still to do, particularly with how polarised society is. I find all the ‘anti-woke’ and TERF rhetoric very disturbing, particularly in the way that they present themselves as reasonable people (when they clearly aren’t!).

How have you been connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
I played a few online shows including a Zoom show, the shows went ok but I’m not sure I’d rush to do them again as it’s so hard to connect with an audience that way. I’m also not sure how long people’s attention span is for a Zoom gig these days. It’s great to use digital to connect with audiences in different ways than the typical live performance. I really enjoyed doing the Hubble’s House Party chat show, partly as it felt like such an achievement and we had a great crowd watching. I also did an Instagram DJ set for Divine Schism which was great.

And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these strange times? 
Hexentanzplatz and music making in general helped give me a purpose during this time. I think 2020 would have been a lot harder for me if I hadn’t had a creative project to throw myself into. I also consumed a lot of TV and books. My partner and I have done a lot of travelling through culture to take us outside of our reality. We got really into watching travel shows like Race Across the World. I also went on a bit of a deep-dive reading about the ’60s hippy trail trekkers after watching The Serpent, and found Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld a bit silly but a welcome break from real life politics.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists or bands that you’d recommend we check out?
Sister Wives from Sheffield are awesome!

Finally, in addition to the release of your album, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for you?
Alongside the album there’s a fantastic video which will be out soon, created by illustrator Katherina Rival. I’m going on a mini tour in October which, fingers crossed, will happen as expected. It would be great to see you there!

Massive thanks to Alice for answering our questions!

Hexentanzplatz, the upcoming new album from Alice Hubble, is set for release this Friday 10th September via Happy Robots. Catch Alice on her UK tour:

7th October – Folklore, London
8th October – The Cold Store, Nottingham
15th October – Wharf Chambers, Leeds
23rd October – West Hill Hall, Brighton (supporting Laetitia Sadier)
31st October – The Moon, Cardiff

Photo Credit: Tom Hilverkus