Track Of The Day: Salad – ‘Things In Heaven’

Having previously wowed us with the sparkling energy of their live set playing for us at The Finsbury back in late 2019 following the release of their most recent album The Salad Way, reformed ’90s legends Salad have now returned to our ears. As expected, the band have had to cancel many plans over the last couple of years, postponing tour dates and taking a pandemic-enforced hiatus; with changes to line-up, the band now spread across the country and personal bereavements and struggles taking hold, a bit of ‘Salad Mojo’ was lost. However, now – after an 18 month band hibernation – gigs have been rescheduled, and the band felt it was time to record something epic; a song worthy of this much-welcome come back. And so Salad returned to a song they’d started rehearsing at the end of 2019 – the poignant ‘Things In Heaven’.

Described by the band as “a somewhat derailed singer hauntingly persuading her loved one that there is beauty in this broken world“, ‘Things In Heaven’ offers an eerily majestic atmosphere. As the soaring, bewitching vocals of front woman Marjine van der Vlugt’s vocals flow, a sweeping, cinematic splendour shimmers alongside a whirring, ethereal soundscape. As its scuzzy effervescent hooks are propelled by an immense dramatic energy, it’s impossible not to become utterly immersed in its hauntingly captivating, celestial allure. ‘Things In Heaven’ will cast a spell over you; taking hold with its exquisite, other-worldly grace.

Of the meaning behind the track, songwriter Paul Kennedy explains more:

Tom and Felicity live in Santa Maria, California. They’ve got a great relationship but Tom is prone to depression. One day, when they had planned to deal with various problems in their life, it was too much for Tom so they decided: hang that – let’s get in the car, get down to the beach, and go surfing. By the majesty of the open sea, Felicity opens Tom’s eyes to the wonders of the natural world.

‘Things In Heaven’ is accompanied by a video, filmed and directed by friend of the band Nic Tuft. Depicting Marjine as a naked, tenacious mermaid emerging from the sea whilst battling crashing waves, it conveys the song’s theme of “the beauty that you can see in brokenness” perfectly.

‘Things In Heaven’ is out now via Three Bean Records. Download from the band’s website now. And you can catch Salad live on their upcoming tour:

10th September – Arts Centre, Colchester (supported by Piney Gir)
19th September – Bodega, Nottingham
26th September – Twickenham Festival
12th October – Komedia, Brighton (supported by Piney Gir)
24th October – The Lexington, London (supported by Piney Gir)

Mari Lane

Photo Credit: Keira-Anee Photography / @keiraanee

INTERVIEW: Miki Berenyi (Piroshka)

Having spent the ’90s fronting pivotal band Lush, in 2018 Miki Berenyi came together with musicians KJ McKillop (Moose), Mick Conroy (Modern English) and Justin Welch (Elastica) to form current project Piroshka. Following acclaim for 2019’s Brickbat, they are now releasing their second album – Love Drips and Gathers – tomorrow via Bella Union.

Offering a cinematic, immersive musicality and poignant, reflective lyricism throughout, LDAG oozes an ethereal, shoegaze-infused splendour. A collection that will both captivate and uplift with its heartfelt sentiment and sparkling grace, it showcases all there is to love about Piroshka; a beautifully stirring reflection on where the band are today.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Miki to find out more about the new record, her experience in Lush, the industry’s attitude towards women and more… Have a read!

Hi Miki, welcome to Get In Her Ears – thanks so much for joining us! How are you doing today?
As I write this, England have just qualified for the semi-finals of the Euros with a 4-0 win, so I’m in a pretty good mood!

Following 2019’s Brickbat, your band Piroshka have now announced a brand new album – Love Drips and Gathers – which is exciting! More introspective and mellow in sound than your previous release with some beautifully ethereal musicality, can you tell us a bit about it? 
Brickbat was recorded before we signed to Bella Union, so it started out as a self-funded experiment. We had no idea when we were writing and recording whether it would ever be released, and though I love that it captures the energy and momentum of the four of us forming Piroshka, there was very little time to develop the songs. It was a bit: first take, DONE! We’d be frantically coming up with ideas and getting them down before the studio time ran out.

With LDAG, we had time to let the songs sink in, think about the details and experiment with the sounds and embellishments. We were working throughout with Iggy B, who brought a consistency to the recordings and he was a great asset in directing and facilitating our ideas. I think of Brickbat as live, and LDAG as studio; and that may go some way to explaining the increased “introspective and mellow” vibe. But it was definitely a conscious decision to make this record more “beautiful”.

Are there any particular themes or inspirations running throughout the album?
Being in your 50s lends a certain perspective. A lot of the lyrics are about people we have lost and the memories they evoke, and the relationships that play out as you get older. Regret is not something you tend to worry about as a young person, but at my age there are things you have to accept – the life not lived, the unsaid things that it is now too late to say, or that it’s finally easier to say.

How does the writing process normally work within the band? Is it a very collaborative process? 
The writing process within the band is deliberately flexible. Everyone contributed to Brickbat, but a lot of the original direction came from me and Justin. This time around, there was a conscious decision to push more control toward Mick and Moose. These are subtle shifts – but I love that I am working with three uniquely talented people, who have different and separate ideas. We all collaborate and contribute, but allowing different elements to take precedence means – I hope! – that each record will have a different feel.

How have you found recording and promoting an album during these strange times? Have you had to adjust the way that you’d normally do things? 
We are all well into middle age, so yes – a virus that poses increased risk to old folks definitely made us cautious. But the recording wasn’t really affected as it was almost entirely completed before lockdown. And – apart from me and Moose, who live together – we are quite far flung, so it has always been a faff to arrange meet-ups. A lot of our interaction takes place online so it’s not been a major change. The main disruption was having to wait for the mix (Iggy’s studio was closed during the first wave), waiting for backlogs to clear at pressing plants (which delayed release date) and difficulties with filming videos. Promo really isn’t a problem, since our days of doing face-to-face interviews and photo sessions are long gone! That said, we couldn’t get together for band photos, and I have become such a slob during lockdown that I’ve almost completely forgotten how to make myself presentable. 

And, ahead of the album’s release tomorrow, you’ve shared poignant single ‘V.O.’, a tribute to 4AD’s late in-house art director and graphic designer Vaughan Oliver. Are you able to tell us more about this single and your memories of working with Vaughan? 
‘V.O.’ was an odd track because I originally wrote it as an instrumental but as the track grew, I was encouraged by the others to write lyrics for it. I went to Vaughan’s funeral in January 2020. There was shock and sadness and people travelled from far and wide to attend. I really wasn’t that close to him personally, but I loved working with him on Lush records, and we pretty much let him do what he wanted in designing the artwork (why wouldn’t you?). In fact, the titles I came up with – Scar and Split – were both partly inspired by Vaughan’s work: the vertical scratches on our first mini-album and the horizontal dividing line in the photographs used for the second album and EPs. The song is as much about the funeral than Vaughan himself. I used snippets of the speeches and memories of the day for the lyrics. As mentioned before, at my age you start to lose people, and it can hit you viscerally.

You formed Piroshka back in 2018, after having fronted ‘90s brit-pop band Lush. What made you decide to start another band, and how does the experience differ from being in Lush? 
I wouldn’t be in Piroshka if it hadn’t been for the Lush reunion gigs. I hadn’t played music for twenty years, and I didn’t realise how much I missed it until I started doing it again! During the last leg of the Lush dates, chatting on the tour bus, Justin (who stood in for Chris and played drums on the tour) kept encouraging me to continue with a new project, and when Mick stood in on bass for the final show in Manchester, the three of us did most of the prep and we really had a blast playing together. Then Justin started sending me tracks to work on (he was very persistent!) and it blossomed from there. So really, Piroshka was just a continuation of the momentum from playing together in the Lush reunion, and Moose was right there so we suddenly had a band without needing to make much effort. 

When I was in Lush, the band came first above everything. I absolutely loved writing and playing music and going to gigs, and the camaraderie of being with the band members, and making friends with 4AD/Warners bods, studio and touring crew, music journalists, other musicians etc. But it overwhelmed every aspect of my life and took up all my headspace. With Piroshka, we all have other bands/jobs/projects/kids etc that require separate space and attention. Of course, we are nowhere near as successful as Lush was, but I don’t think I could ever be full time in a band again. Having my career, income, social life, relationships – my whole identity, really – all reliant on the band’s success and continuation was emotionally exhausting.

And how would you say the music scene differs generally these days from back in the ‘90s? And would you say that the way that women in particular are treated in music has changed much since then?
The internet has changed everything. Back in the ’90s, music papers, record companies, radio stations etc all had vastly more power and reach. That was an asset if you were favoured, but it was difficult for anyone denied access to those platforms to be heard. Now anyone can make their music accessible, but most are overlooked in the vast ocean of what’s available. 

The online world often feels too thinly spread to really be a ‘scene’, but I am heartened that there are communities where women support each other. On the other hand, the wilful misinterpretation, bullying and abuse that women disproportionately receive is depressing. Lush was very fortunate to be on a label (4AD) that treated women with respect. We never felt patronised or overlooked in favour of male artists. The fact that we had two women in the band was neither here nor there – it was the music that was important. And I see other labels – Bella Union, Lost Map, Milk – to name a few – who carry that same spirit. From my own perspective, I notice that there are a lot more women in bands who continue to make music beyond their 40s. It’s hard to be a pioneer – most of us need living examples to visualise what’s possible, and be inspired to follow in their footsteps. The same must also be true for younger women. I watched the TV show We Are Lady Parts recently, a sitcom about an all-female Muslim band, and it was so funny and energetic and showed how exciting and liberating it can be to be in a band and play music. It was genuinely inspirational, and must have reached a wider audience than a lot of bands’ music does these days. I hope lots of girls watched that and thought “that looks amazing, let’s form a band!”

Unfortunately, in the wider context, I continue to see female musicians treated as a separate category to the (male) norm. Of course, your sex, age, race, class etc will have an influence on how you perceive the world, and therefore the art you create, but I despair at ‘femaleness’ being treated like some niche perspective, when we make up than half the population, and sexism being normalised by pandering to the notion that, for example, certain festival crowds prefer all-male bands because… what? A mostly male audience is so boorish and insecure that they are only going to tolerate the occasional woman on stage, primarily to provide eye candy? It’s insane that anyone in a position of power even thinks that way. And this is not about some dry tokenistic exercise of ticking diversity boxes to ensure every minority is represented. This is about people in positions of power actually liking music – ALL music. People loved John Peel’s radio show because he had wide-ranging tastes and could see value in everything from heavy metal to hip hop, punk-rock to jazz – whatever the artist’s race or sex or class. We need more people with a similar passion in positions of power and influence, so women don’t feel like they are lucky interlopers, competing against one another for precious space because there is only room for a limited number of female voices. 

The last year has obviously been difficult for everyone in different ways, but has there been anything or anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these strange times? 
I got approached by Peter Selby, who was setting up a new imprint, Nine Eight books, with Bonnier, to write a memoir. The prospect was terrifying, but I knew if I said no I would regret it. So, I have been embroiled in memories and my own thoughts for months, which offers some escape from the trauma of the outside world – if not the trauma of my inside world!

And it’s obviously quite difficult organising anything right now, but – in addition to the release of the new album – what else does the rest of 2021 have in store for Piroshka?
We’ll be touring in November, with John Mouse supporting, so that will require rehearsals and planning, etc. Justin is already sending files and ideas for the next album, so we’ll be cracking on with that!

Finally, as we’re a new music focused site, are there any new or upcoming bands that you’d recommend we check out?
I’m very lazy at seeking out new music and rely a lot on Moose, who is more committed at scouring music blogs and websites. My last gig before lockdown was Big Joanie, who have become a staple favourite. And my first socially-distanced gig was a band called Lemondaze who supported us a couple of years ago. I also did a vocal for a band called Blushing from Austin, Texas, though I’m a bit behind and not sure if/when that’s out! The last albums on my turntable were by Jane Weaver, Pictish Trail, Callum Easter, International Teachers of Pop and Hachiku. But I suspect that a lot of these artists have actually been around for a long time since they have several records! I also heard Wet Leg the other day and really liked that.

Thanks so much to Miki for taking the time to talk to us!

Love Drips and Gathers, the new album from Piroshka, is out tomorrow 23rd July via Bella Union. Pre-order here.

Track Of The Day: Turkish Delight – ‘Spin’

“What would you like best to eat?”
“Turkish Delight, please, your Majesty” said Edmund.

If, like me, you grew up in the era of the Sunday teatime adaptation of the Narnia saga, then the words Turkish Delight always have a certain power, bringing to mind scenes of intoxication, mental confusion and seduction. Whether the band of the same name caught the BBC’s version whilst hanging around early ’90s Boston, they’ve admitted in interviews that the CS Lewis novel was the original inspiration for the name. And like the White Witch, the gift that the band bring is simultaneously familiar and threatening, warmly rocking but with an artsy cool.

Now, over twenty years since the band split, DIY label Reckless Yes are reanimating their back-catalogue with a re-release of debut Tommy Bell (1996) and second album (1998), on one double CD: bringing the band back – Aslan-style – all in one package. It’s the label’s assertion that the band are as relevant and fresh as they were in the ’90s and, as someone who’d never heard of them until very recently, it’s hard to disagree.

Taken from Tommy Bell, ‘Spin’ is a perfect introduction to Turkish Delight’s welding of art-rock and now-wave DIY sensibilities. That monotone bass-y rhythm you hear throughout? That’s ‘the can’, a “a home-made, electric bass-like instrument made from a bucket, a pole, and strings” which sounds somewhere between the skiffle broom and something from a bad (ie. good) sci-fi movie. Leah’s vocals switch in and out of English with the lilting “I’d rather be a spinster / I’d rather spin” – a defiant, subtly feminist, statement, whilst still also being punningly wry. Drums rattle around while spectral sharp and piercingly howling guitar lines rotate throughout, with verse and chorus largely being dictated by a shift in power rather than an expected telegraphed shift in chords.

‘Spin’ is sinister, daft, experimental and ultimately, pretty fun. And the same is true of the video: typical of its time as a piece of ’90s video art, showing individuals spinning in stop-motion black and white, intercut with footage of the band both playing the song and playing the fool. Not only is this an insight into the Dada world of the group, and lead singer Leah Callahan in particular, but according to interviews it’s evocative of the experience of seeing them play live, with costumes and silly antics a prominent feature.

Tommy Bell is a mishmash of agit art and indie rock with aspects of found sound and the experimentation of jazz and noise – with all that’s promised by ‘Spin’ on there, and more. At fifteen tracks it’s also a mammoth of a debut and shows a band in full fettle, right from the off. Howcha Magowcha is a more streamlined sophomore effort, which Leah has said “shows off the band’s maturity”. Taken together, they demonstrate the brave new frontiers of post-grunge indie, a world where art and music could be treated as synonymous and simultaneous activities. Often described as Thurston Moore’s favourite band of the time, Turkish Delight stand out as uncompromising and truly independent pioneers who left two lightning rods of LPs. Listening to them back-to-back is like poking around an old wardrobe, before stumbling, confused and maybe a little frightened, into a fascinating new world.

Tommy Bell and Howcha Magowcha are both out now, via Reckless Yes, and available both digitally and on CD.

John McGovern

Get In Her Ears Live @ The Finsbury w/ Salad, 08.11.19

Following a host of amazing bands playing for us lately, including GENN, Chorusgirl, Witching Waves, CLT DRP and Crumbs, we were back at The Finsbury last night with another dream of a line-up, for a jam-packed night of the best new music.

Kicking things off, and completely packing out the venue instantly, London trio Macadamia Sluts deliver their insightful pop-punk – delving into poignant subjects of toxic relationships and the struggles of being an introvert, with refreshingly confessional lyricism and an impassioned, buoyant energy they uplift and inspire; securing themselves as a definite new favourite band.

Next up, Gold Baby dazzle with their shimmering, heartfelt offerings on the first outing for completed new line up – consisting of Siân, Scott and Sara. The trio deliver dreamy lamentations on life, love and alternative realities, as glistening melodies flow alongside Siân’s utterly spellbinding crystalline vocals that ooze with a raw emotion. Just beautiful.

Penultimate band of the night, all the way from Seattle, Cozy Slippers charm us with their catchy, twinkling slices of indie-pop. Delivering delightfully jangly tales of stolen cars and lost love, they treat us to exquisite harmonies and a gentle romanticism that leaves each and every one of us with a smile on our face and a warmth in our hearts.

And then the secret’s out… our headliners reveal themselves to be reformed ’90 legends Salad. Kicking things off with an energy-fuelled rendition of last year’s single, ‘The Selfishness Of Love’, the band continue to treat us to offerings new and old, predominantly showcasing their latest album The Salad Way, released earlier this year, whilst fitting in classics such as ‘Drink The Elixir’. Oozing a vibrant charisma and sparkling pizazz, despite battling the flu, front woman Marijne leads the way in delivering a set jam-packed full of relentless riffs (courtesy of most recent member Charley Stone) and buoyant melodies, proving that Salad is well and truly back on the menu…

Massive thanks to all four bands for making last night so special, and to everyone who made it out to show support. Catch us next month, on 13th December, with headliners Screaming Toenail!

Words: Mari Lane / @marimindles
Photos: Keira-Anee Photography / @keiraanee