FIVE FAVOURITES: Grace Savage

Grace Savage is a four-time UK beat-box champion turned electro-pop artist. With her ability to produce catchy beats and write witty relatable lyrical content, her live shows are an impressive spectacle; and her performance at Loud Women Festival last year made a mark in our musical memory. She’s set to release her new EP Cracks on 17th May and will pre-empt the launch with a headline show at Bermondsey Social Club on 15th May (tickets available here).

We caught up with Grace to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to her single ‘Snowflake’ at the end of this post.

Amy Winehouse – Frank
I heard this album for the first time when I was 14, hanging out in my friend’s bedroom. I instantly fell in love and knew this woman was something special. The tone of her voice, the sensitivity and intelligence of the lyrics, the infectious melodies..I didn’t know much about music technically at the time, but I just felt the soul of this album to my core and I still listen to it today as much as I did back then.

I learned the song ‘Fuck Me Pumps’ on the guitar and it was the first song I ever sang in front of another human being. It was a producer who’d seen me beatbox in a talent competition, and then invited me to her studio; she asked me to sing something for her and I was absolutely terrified. I sang Amy’s song and she must’ve seen something in me because we then worked together as a songwriting partnership for four years. So this album will always have a special place in my heart.

P!nk – Can’t Take Me Home
I cannot even begin to explain the level of obsession I had with P!nk as a young girl. Posters on the bedroom wall, dyed my hair pink at 13, got my tongue pierced at 15, my email address for most of my teenage years was pink_b!tch@hotmail.com – it was a LOT. She was this bad ass lady with bright pink hair and so much attitude and I just wanted to be everything she was. She was a great role model for me as a young girl who didn’t fit in with the ”girly girls” and this album (although when I listen to it now sounds SO dated) was a big part of my teenage years. I’ve followed her career ever since and I’m seeing her live for the first time this summer….I think I might explode with nostalgia and happiness.

Nirvana – Nevermind
This album inspired me to learn the guitar. I went through the classic “grunge girl” stage for about a year (black nails, big nose ring, nirvana hoodies, eye liner, really bad skate boarding) and it was all heavily influenced by this album and Kurt Cobain’s genius. I was always such a hip hop head/r&b and pop music girl, but something about Nirvana really got me. The guitar riffs, the husky tone of his voice, the weird lyrics and the “don’t give a f***” attitude of the whole band was really refreshing against the shiny manufactured pop bands I was exposed to in the 90’s and early 00’s. This album introduced me to a different kind of music and really let me indulge my emo side.

Ms Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Ahhh it was so close between Lauryn and Missy Elliot because both had a huge impact on me growing up, but seeing as this is about ALBUMS and not ARTISTS… I had to choose this one. I remember I was about 14/15 and my mate said he bought this album and didn’t like it so he gave it to me to try. I’m so glad he did, because BOOYYY it is ICONIC! I fell in love with her voice watching Sister Act and I fell in love with this album the moment I heard it. Triple threat: singer, rapper, writer. There were really no other artists around like her at the time and her voice is unparalleled in my opinion. I still can’t think of anyone who sings, writes and raps as fluently and excellently as she does. She is one of a kind. I saw her perform the 20 year anniversary of this album in London last year and it was a beautiful experience.

BANKS – Goddess
This is the only “modern” album on my list but no less impactful and meaningful to my life. This is my break up album. I must have listened to it and cried to it and ran to it and danced to it and slept to it and then cried some more to it almost every day for about a year. When it came out, the production was like nothing I’d ever heard before and her lyrics and tone were so unique and dark and sexy, I was immediately like “WOAH” who is this girl? I’ve seen her live a few times now and she never fails to disappoint. ‘Waiting Game’ and ‘Brain’ still continue to be some of my favourite songs in existence – the slow driving kick drum, the long builds throughout the whole song, the deep driving synths and the tribal feel to her vocals drenched in reverb. Beaut. Thanks for getting me over the worst break up of my life. I owe you one BANKS!

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Video Premiere: Varley – ‘Proof’

Formed on the way home after a night of bowling, Berlin-based Varley have amassed more than 1.6 million plays, with their debut single ‘Roamer’ peaking at #23 in the Spotify Viral Charts. Following the equally captivating ‘Lonely Were The Days’, and having enchanted us with their live performance at one of our Notting Hill Arts Club showcases, the trio have now returned with a sparkling new offering.

‘Proof’ flows with chiming waves of synth and bright, infectious beats, providing a sweeping backdrop to Claire-Ann Varley’s luscious rich vocals, with shades of Aussie songwriter Julia Stone. A truly dreamy slice of ethereal indie-pop, it oozes a twinkling uplifting splendour that’ll stick in your ears on first listen.

Of the track, Claire-Ann explains:

“‘Proof’ was written just as Summer 2018 was coming to an end and tells the story of two people, who both know that whatever they have together is coming to an end but they are not quite ready to let it go. It follows them on their last adventure, their last road trip and their last few minutes together. It’s actually a positive song because even though they aren’t going to be together anymore, they still care about each other and want their last moments to count.

Filmed while the band were on a trip to New York, watch the nostalgia-tinged new video for ‘Proof’, for the first time, here:

‘Proof’ is out now via Seahorse Music. Listen on Spotify. Catch Varley live at the following dates:

23rd May – Auster Club, Berlin
24th May – Freundlich + Kompetent, Hamburg

Mari Lane
@marimindles

VIDEO PREMIERE: Valeska Rautenberg – ‘Berliner Morgen’

Berlin based musician Valeska Rautenberg has shared visuals for her new track ‘Berliner Morgen’ and they’re as cinematic as the soundscape that accompanies it. Taken from her most recent EP Veins: Songs for Piano, Wind & Water, the single is one of four songs that form a collection of “memories, favorite places, and forgotten tales” for the artist.

Valeska’s ambient soundscapes and minimal piano music takes listeners on a journey through her hometown, experiencing and concentrating on thoughts and feelings both she and the listener may not have noticed before. Speaking about her new music, she explains: “Sometimes there’s no need for words. You can let the wind whisper, the water roar, the birds talk, and the streets of Berlin tell their stories”.

‘Berliner Morgen’ in particular captures the beauty and solitude of a walk through Berlin at 5.30 in the morning. Valeska extrapolates: “Imagine coming out of a club (possibly slightly drunk) into the peaceful Berlin drenched in blue. With your blurry night-tainted vision you hardly see the dirt, only the serenity and sweet melancholy of the big B”.

Watch the video for Valeska’s new track below and listen to the Veins EP in its entirety here.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: Jackie Mendoza

Born and raised in the border city of Chula Vista, California, Jackie Mendoza blends the cultural influences of her hometown and her motherland of Tijuana, Mexico, creating eccentric pop, Latin-driven dance beats, and vibrant soundscapes. She’s just released her debut EP LuvHz via Luminelle Recordings; a 6-track exploration of love and relationships.

We caught up with Jackie to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to her single ‘Mucho Mas’ at the end of this post.

1. Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise
It was hard to narrow my list down to 5 favorites but these are some albums with the most spins. It was funny to find that most of these are from 2009-2011…which reaffirms how impressionable I was in my late teens and how these albums paved a way for my own music. My older sister showed me this album when I was a senior in high school and learning how to drive. I blasted this album the first time I was allowed to take the car out by myself. This is an album I connected with 5 seconds after listening to it. The sound was so interesting to me and unlike anything I had heard before. It incorporates pop elements into experimental electronica and never seizes to include the Latin influence; everything I love in one big sound.

2. Air – Talkie Walkie
I used to do my homework to this album while I was in middle school. I wanted to cover the song ‘Surfing on a Rocket’ and make it my own. Before Garage Band and Ableton, I had to download programs from questionable websites if I wanted to overdub my vocals on top of a track. This album sparked my imagination to think about producing and writing music because I wanted to sound just like Air.

3. Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
This album really helped me get through a lot of teen angst. I went through stages of depression in high school and while I had to take antidepressants, this album was a big help too. I felt understood and helped me appreciate solitude.

4. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
This is another album I would play through and not skip a single song. Like Air, Animal Collective is another band that sparked my interest in producing music. The vocal harmonies, abstract lyrics, and experimental instrumentation stuck with me and I’m still inspired by it today. This album reminds me of summer in San Diego. I’m really lucky I had the opportunity to work with their producer, Rusty Santos. Working with him was really enriching and felt almost effortless.

5. Carla Morrison – Mientras tú Dormías
I hadn’t thought about singing in Spanish until I heard this album. I saw many commonalities in Carla’s music; ukulele, soft vocals, and electronic sounds. Hearing her music encouraged me to write in Spanish and to not be afraid to write love songs.

Photo Credit: Tayo Okyekan

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Premiere: Beauty Sleep – ‘Rainbow Ballroom’

Beauty Sleep’s liquid sound and lush production have the ability to place them among the pantheon of greats that precede them. Their synth pop radiance is akin to Beach House and Acid House Kings, with interlacing vocal stylings seductive enough for an of Montreal track.

The Belfast trio’s debut LP Be Kind is set to release this month, and upon first listen will easily become your sound of the summer. In fact, the whole release drips like honey from a champagne flute.

According to a statement from the band’s label regarding their genesis: “Beauty Sleep’s music is born of the friendship its three members share,” they detail. “…While chatting, Cheylene, Ryan and Aimee discovered a powerful shared creative bond. Overcome with the rush of inspiration only the prospect of a new project instils, the group decided to seize the moment and focus their energy into forming a new band. Enter the lush dream-pop Beauty Sleep makes today.”

Taking notes from NPR-coined genre Roséwave, their shimmering vocals meld divinely with the twinkling bell tones to create catchy choruses driven by passion. Their sound gets edgy on the track ‘The Feeling Back’ where you can hear distorted guitar and group vocals in the chorus that give a feeling of shouting out into the night with your friends on a rooftop bar.

‘On Repeat’, a soaring beat driven zen overload captures the thrill of a late night “getting lost in the moment”, while keeping the vibe cool enough for an after-club coffee.

Third track, ‘Rainbow Ballroom’ (premiered below!), could easily be a modern interpretation of a Diana Ross hit. The bass funk is apparent in the verses, only to break out into plumes of sound over the chorus using synth pads to fill the sound out infinitely.

‘Lies’ is another breakout track that features the vocalists’ spoken words and airy samples in the intro. This allows the experimentation of the track to really sparkle; downright dirty bass fills carry the morphed vocals and playful lyrics. Another Standout ‘Synthetic Debris’ opens up like a prom slow dance hit from the ’80s. I sensed major deja vu from listening to The Radio Dept. in my teens. It’s quiet and intimate, sparing no details that fill in the detailed background, samples, synths and all.

The band bolsters an electric live sound as well, treating shows and festivals as “a communal celebration of music and dance.”

Beauty Sleep has vivatius and contagious power in their debut LP Be Kind is sure to leave you wanting a blissed out night on the town, slightly tipsy and full of life.

Be Kind, the debut album from Beauty Sleep, is out 17th May. Listen to brand new single ‘Rainbow Ballroom’, for the first time, below:

 

Luke Janke
@Jankeleg

Introducing Interview: Pixel Grip

Already a known quantity in Chicago for their live shows and dance parties, Pixel Grip have now put out their first LP Heavy Handed. Energetic, dark synth-pop grooves with deep analog synth zones, in their words “menacing”. We had a quick chat with the trio to hear their thoughts on their hometown, moving away from the constraints of genre and the confidence of extended repetition.

Welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about how Pixel Grip started?
R: Hi, thank you! The three of us went to the same high school and bonded over liking electronic music despite the uninspired atmosphere of our hometown. The three of us independently tried to pursue music with other bands and it took us a while to get in a room together, but now we’re inseparable.

You’re based in Chicago, unarguably the birthplace of house music – what’s the current scene like? Do you feel supported by other artists and the wider music community?
R: It’s true that Chicago is the birthplace of house and has a flourishing electronic music scene. I just still don’t know where we fit in. We kind of feel like outsiders here; we don’t really fit in with the dark wave or goth scene, we don’t fit in the club scene. We’ve just been playing our set on venue and festival stages and hoping people like it.

We are loving your track ‘Plastic Enemies’, which we’ve played on the radio show and love the video, can you tell us a bit more about the track?
R: ‘Plastic Enemies’ is a moody song with a powerful bass-line and heavenly chords. Me and Jon developed the structure of the song very quickly through improvisation, and Jon produced his heart out on the track. The lyrics are inspired by falling in love with a straight girl.

Your debut LP Heavy Handed feels like it draws from a number of musical genres – how would you describe the record?
R: I find myself less interested in the idea of “genre” more and more every day. Our goal in the creative process is to write a good song. A song with movement and power and expression. When we are working together we like to riff on energy that’s dark or funky – something that makes you bang your head or do stank face. There’s also songs on the album that pause from the dancing to reflect or emote.

What is your creative process like, do you work together or separately?
R:
We do both. Jon works really well on his own when he produces the tracks. When we are songwriting we try everything: generally, we create concepts through improvising with each other, but a few tracks on the album were produced around a crude demo I made by myself.

You’re known for your live shows and dance parties in Chicago – can you describe them for us?
J: Something we love about playing live is our ability to transform recorded material into something new and unpredictable. We get to use new instruments, unique sounds, stunts, anything really. We used to DJ more often in Chicago, but lately it has been more exciting to apply those mixing skills into a full band set. I think the biggest takeaway is the confidence of extended repetition.

Plans to come to the UK anytime soon?
J: Yes! Want to help us get some UK shows…?!

What’s the rest of 2019 got in store for Pixel Grip?
J: Start writing the second album! Also, we hope to be on the road as much as possible, maybe even more than what’s possible.

Finally, as we’re a new music focused site, are there any other new/upcoming bands or artists you’d suggest we check out?
J:
Definitely check out Sports Boyfriend, Cameron Traxxx, and Ariel Zetina. Those are just a few of our favourite Chicago musicians.

Huge thanks to Pixel Grip for answering our questions! Heavy Handed, the debut LP from Pixel Grip, is out now.

Tash Walker
@maudeandtrevor

Introducing Interview: Pi Ja Ma

If you haven’t yet heard of Pi Ja Ma think dreamy Parisian alt-pop with a heavy helping of humour and sixties sparkle. Having racked up several million of streams from their debut EP, we caught up with Axel and Pauline to talk about their debut album Nice To Meet U, their gig at Rough Trade East and what motivates their records.

Welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about how Pi Ja Ma started?
Axel: We met each other on the internet in 2015 – I saw a video on YouTube where Pauline was singing a cover of the velvet underground ‘Femme Fatale’. I tried to contact her via email and then we met. I played her some songs and we talked a lot about our lives and laughed and drank a lot of teas. We immediately connected. Then everything happened very fast; we’ve recorded a few songs that we loved and sent them to a small label called Bleepmachine, we decided to work together for our first EP Radio Girl to see what happened… Reactions were great so we started to play live, then we signed a licence deal with a bigger label (Cinq 7 / Wagram Music) to release the album Nice To Meet U.

As a visual and DIY artist can you tell us about the interaction of your illustrations and art with the music that you have created – do they lean on each other or do you find one takes the lead in the creative process?
Pauline:
Music and illustration make a beautiful couple – they are very different but are both an animal way to express yourself. I couldn’t choose between these two. Drawing was easier for me at first but then I began to sing, and it was also very natural doing that everyday. I like to think about the full project with music, drawings, videos etc…

Nice To Meet U album cover

You debut album Nice To Meet U came out last year to a great reception, with your music being described as “evolving fantasies and nostalgic daydreams, encouraging the listener to step back in time to the 1960s” – how would you describe the record?
Pauline:
It was very easy making this record with Axel. Just after we met, we spent a lot of time talking and making jokes. We were inspired by the same artists like The Beach Boys and Mac Demarco. We had a lot of fun, I hope it will be the same for the second album!
This record talk about simple topics like shitty love stories and feeling weird in your own family. It contains a lot of positive vibes and people tell me that it makes them happy so I feel like we’ve succeeded in what we set out to do!

We loved your tracks ‘Vertigo’ and ‘I Hate U’, which we’ve played on the radio show, and love the videos -can you tell us a bit more about the videos and how they link together?
Pauline:
Every time we finish a song, I have images in my head. I try to explain my story to a director and then we make the video together. I like to add drawings and animations to videos because it’s a part of me I can directly put in the reality of the images.
The story begins, I’m in the skin of a sad man who’s trying to let it go and act crazy in the street. He meets his double, a guy who represents a rock’n roll version of him. At the end of the video he’s back in his normal life, drinking whisky and watching TV, and then the second video begins and I’m in the skin of a vintage pop star who’s gonna go crazy in her way too. Both songs are talking about the same topic, which is difficult break ups and moments when you feel crazy and just want to “tout foutre en l’air”.

Can you tell us a bit more about the evolution of your music from your Radio Girl EP to Nice To Meet U?
Axel:
Well it was the same process for the EP and the album. I was recording songs at home, then I would send them to Pauline, and if she’d like it (which happened most of the time luckily) we started to talk about it and what we would like to talk about. At the beginning, I was writing the lyrics alone translating our discussion into lyrics, but more and more we started to write together. Production-wise we kept the same process that worked on the first EP, which is making most of the things at home, to keep our own sound. Apart from drums, and strings, everything was homemade. That’s what we like, to keep it simple.

Your music covers a variety of topics including gender, youth, isolation and failed love with a gentle intensity mixed together with humour – does that reflect your general outlook on life and response to cultural experiences and societal pressures?
Yes. That’s a pretty good sum up of our philosophy. It’s great feeling that people can understand that, just listening to our music.

You’re currently on tour and have just played both Rough Trade East and the Southbank Centre (two iconic London venues) – how were they?
Axel: Rough trade east was great! People were so kind with us, and the gig was fun. That place is amazing, it’s inspiring. I would love to work in that shop, I’m sure I would get many ideas from all the great music they play most of the time.
Pauline: I’m always very well surprised by the warm welcome English people give us everytime we come to England, it’s a great feeling when people can understand each one of your words, even the jokes between the songs. Even walking down the streets in London feels amazing, because of the open-minded way of life there. I mean, what people wear, the way they are smiling much more than French people, and how they organise more cultural activities in the heart of the city.

You’ve previously played London including The Moth Club in East London how have you found the reception this time?
Moth club was one of our first gigs, and we were quite shy back then, now we improvise much more and feel more confident and it makes the show greater!

What’s the rest of 2019 got in store for Pi Ja Ma?
As we’re touring, we’re thinking a lot about our second record. We get constantly inspired by what we see, who we meet, and what we’re listening to. We already have a few songs and can’t wait to do more.

Finally, as we’re a new music focused site, are there any other new/upcoming bands or artists you’d suggest we check out?
We love Halo Maud who’s a friend of ours, and who helped write a few lyrics on the album. Her music is great and she’s signed to a British label (Heavenly Records). You should check her out. Also, you should check Musique Chienne, Pauline’s latest crush is Creatures, who we saw at Old Blue Last just after our gig at Rough Trade East.

Nice To Meet U is out now.

Tash Walker
@maudeandtrevor