EP: Stef Fi – ‘Girlhood’

A poignant reflection on grief, growth, and grappling with the repercussions of a racist world; Stef Fi has shared her debut EP, Girlhood, via Sistah Punk Records. Best known as the vocalist & guitarist of black feminist punk band Big Joanie, Stef Fi (aka Stephanie Phillips) has shared four alt-punk tracks that provide “sketches of a girl” resisting hate, and trying to find hope in the harshest of realities.

Mellow opener ‘What Remains’ broods with quiet intensity, setting the pensive, yet resistant tone of the EP. “Open wide and swallow divine” Stef directs, over steady beats and ominous guitar riffs. Her punk attitude breaks through on following track ‘Nowhere’. The quiet, uncertain lyrics of the verses contrast well with the distorted riffs and defiant words in the chorus.

“This town will be the death of me”, muses Stef on the eponymous ‘Girlhood’. The song was inspired by the footage of police attacking a young black girl at a Texas pool party in 2015. Extrapolating on what the victim may have felt, Stef delivers the line “I had spoken then I saw, I knew it was my time to fall” with calm resignation and maturity, powerfully contrasting with the violence the young girl experienced. It’s a jarring listen, but one that’s delivered with care and gentility.

‘The Garden’ closes the EP, with its rolling riffs, rumbling percussion, and more of Stef’s yearning vocals. Despite being rooted in inequality, Stef Fi’s Girlhood is a considerate, tender offering that showcases her talent as a songwriter, and as a woman who is dedicated to spotlighting the struggles of others.

Order your copy of Stef Fi’s debut EP on bandcamp. Follow her on Twitter for more updates.

Photo Credit: Nick Paulsen

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

INTERVIEW: Amaroun

We were first introduced to the sultry beats of London-based artist Amaroun in 2017, and we’ve been following her ever since. Her personal, instinctive song-writing and her blurring of musical genres has kept us intrigued with each new release. Tash Walker caught up with Amaroun to ask about her latest single, how she’s coping during the current lockdown, and her cathartic song-writing process…

Hello Amaroun, it’s been awhile since we last caught up. How have you been?
I’ve actually been great considering the times we are in. Music is the ultimate escape and it’s been keeping me balanced and grateful just like it always does in hard times.

We’ve been fans of yours here at GIHE for a while now, and we’re loving your new sound! Can you tell us more about the music you’ve started releasing?
I’ve always written music that just follows my instincts and isn’t about over thinking, so I’m taking that attitude with my releases. This new sound is a new found confidence I have in trusting my own decisions, and putting loving what I do at the heart of the creative process.

You’re releasing a track a month this year. Three months in, how’s that going?
I love it! If I had it my way I’d release weekly. I love to capture the feelings of any given moment. Like a musical photograph. It’s an absolute buzz for me to make music and share it as the moment unfolds. It’s deeply cathartic.

We love your track ‘Perish’. Its stripped back style reminds me a bit of Tirzah. What would you say has been influencing this slightly different direction?
Along with trusting the sounds that a pouring out of me is a process of pure experimentation and feeling a vibe.

Your music is very personal, would you say the writing process is almost cathartic?
It it total catharsis. I write for fun, for therapy, for the people I love and it’s actually habitual now.

Can you tell us a bit more about the themes that we can hear in your music and what you draw from your own experiences?
My writing draws from my experiences of growing up in a fiercely religious environment where being queer was not acceptable, and explores the challenges I faced and continue to in establishing what it means to be an out queer black British Jamaican woman. I come from a long lineage of courageous women that have found ways to share their story and I feel very passionate about sharing mine.

Your releases so far have been picked up and played by Radio 1, 6 Music, and you’ve been to a countless number of festivals! How’s that been? Quite the whirlwind?
It’s exactly what brings me joy so it’s been great. I did have a break from the whirlwind over the past couple of years. I went through a process of hibernation and development to get where I am now, the team around me has changed, I have changed and so has the sound. I’m really glad to be back to releasing music, I played a my first sell out gig of the year back in February, and I can’t wait to perform some more once we are out of isolation.

Do you have any particular highlights so far?
My highlight will always be Glastonbury. The energy there is electric. Cant wait for it to make a come back in 2021, and I need to get back there!

We saw the raw version of your latest release ‘Rosey’ on your IGTV (which was beautiful). How did that moment come about?
I met one of my good friends Adam Cleaver (Dyvr) to do a collaboration and catch up. Boris Le Chaixe joined us, who I worked on ‘Rosey’ with. We ended up at Peckham Levels, it used to be a car park, the acoustics are unreal. My girlfriend found the perfect spot and started filming. Adam and I covered ‘Losing You’ by Solange, and Boris and I just felt the vibe and had to let ‘Rosey’ flow out too. The whole thing was really relaxed and natural, I love when things just fall in to place like that.

We’re really looking forward to hearing what’s to come, music is our survival at the moment. How you are feeling about the lockdown situation right now?
It feels music is more important now than ever. Music connects us, it’s how we communicate, it’s how we unite. People all across the music industry are being so heavily impacted, but it’s amazing to see how people are getting around these with live streams and sharing the music they’ve already made. It’s a really tough time for the industry, but seeing how people have responded as reminded me what I love about the spirit of musicians.

For me, it’s really fueled my writing. I’ve channeled all my anxieties and fears into creating, and with extra time on my hands I feel like I’ve been really productive. Being or feeling isolated in one form or another has often pushed me on to a path where I do my best writing. All this being said, my heart goes out to everyone affected by the global crisis. I really hope we can come together and overcome this tough time.

Thanks to Amaroun for answering our questions. Follow her on Spotify & Instagram for more updates.

#ThrowbackThursday: GIHE w/ Indian Queens 16.11.17

Due to the current lockdown/coronavirus situation, we’re unable to make it in to the Hoxton Radio studio to broadcast our live new music show from 7-9pm for the foreseeable future.

We have plenty of past shows to share with you though! We’re going to start sharing some #ThrowbackThursday sessions, so you can still enjoy 2 hours of new music, and chats with some of our favourite artists each week.

Today, we’ve picked our November 2017 show with Jennifer O’Neill from Indian Queens. The band are set to release their debut album God Is A Woman tomorrow (3rd April) via Cool Thing Records, so we thought now would be a great time to re-visit our chat with Jen.

Music highlights from Bikini Kill, Average Sex, Gold Baby, MALKAEdits and…Jennifer Paige #crush

Listen back to the show here:

INTERVIEW: New Pagans

Filled with urgent, considered, intensely catchy songs that challenge the norms surrounding relationships, history, and gender; New Pagans‘ debut EP Glacial Erratic is a powerful blend of alternative sounds. The Belfast band take the best elements of post-punk, grunge, and indie rock and transform them in to abrasive, yet melodic noise.

Formed of Claire Miskimmin, Cahir O’Doherty, Conor McAuley, and Lyndsey McDougall, the band have cut their teeth playing in different outfits over the years (Girls Names, Rupture Dogs, Fighting With Wire, Jetplane Landing). Together under the New Pagans moniker, they sound louder and more confident, creating a sonic space to explore issues of frustration, defiance, and resolution. We caught up with Claire to ask about the band’s EP, their recent UK tour, and what bands she’d recommend listening to right now…

 

Hello Claire, How are you holding up at the moment?
All good, I think we are all managing to keep it together at the minute. Keeping fit and keeping our brains ticking over. Absolutely bizarre for everything to be so different yet so normal, seeing this out in our homes, familiar surroundings. Absolutely surreal. Worst sci-fi film ever.

For anyone who doesn’t know, can you explain how New Pagans came together? We know each of you played in different bands before…
The majority of us have been in bands since our teens with the exception of Lyndsey, this is her first band, unbelievably. We’ve been playing for 3 years. Cahir and Lyndsey had talked about starting to write music together for a while but I don’t think they necessarily had a band in mind. Conor was a good friend of theirs and is an unbelievable drummer, so that was a no-brainer. As for me, I was messing about on a bass set up in their kitchen one night, recorded a rough sketch and thought nothing of it again until it was sent back to me a while later fully fleshed out by Cahir and with Lyndsey’s vocals; and it blew my mind. So that was me in! Allan was the last part of the jigsaw. He came in on guitar when we started to have bigger ambitions for the songs and he rounds of the sound off perfectly.

You released your debut EP Glacial Erratic in March. What are you most proud of about this release?
I think we are most proud that it’s a physical release. We had been releasing singles digitally over the last three years and it’s amazing to be able to find a home for them and there’s nothing like holding your own record in your hand and thinking “we made that”. It’s a beautiful object. I can see why people obsess and collect them.

Many of your songs blend the personal with the political, and I think that’s especially clear on ‘Lily Yeats’ and on ‘It’s Darker’. Can you talk me through the contexts of each song, and how they transformed into these affecting, memorable tracks?
This is more a question for Lyndsey to answer as she’s our lyricist, but I would say that she mines everything around her for inspiration. Her studies for her PHD led her to discover Lily Yeats, day to day experiences like an argument at a party with a man trying to exert his dominance over a female opinion like on ‘It’s Darker’. Everyday conversations overheard on a bus strung together into a Dadaist poem as with ‘Charlie Had the Face of a Saint’.
‘Admire’ is about learning to navigate a long term relationship once the initial spark of newness has gone & appreciate what you have. Politics, history, nature, human fragility, forgotten female voices told from an Irish perspective.

Do you have a favourite track on the record? If so, why?
I think my favourite track is ‘Admire’. Maybe it feels freshest. Or it’s the change of pace it brings on the record. It’s a mature track. I think it really sets a precedent for what we are doing next. Saying that, they are all bangers.

You’ve recently returned from touring the UK promoting the record. What were the highlights from your trip? Favourite venues/moments you’d like to talk about?
It was great for us to get out on the road together and actually great timing, another week and those shows would have been cancelled amid the chaos. Stand out venue would be the Flying Duck in Glasgow for me. They really looked after us and it makes such a difference to arrive at a venue and everything to be easy. Believe me this is a rarity for UK shows. Anyone reading this who has toured the UK will understand. As for the highlight, those drives to the hotel after the shows when we are all a little tipsy or running on adrenaline from the gig are the best craic. Makes you forget you are crammed in a tin box hurtling from one end of the country to the other.

We know it’s an uncertain time right now for musicians, especially in Ireland. How are you looking after yourselves? What’s the reaction from the music community in Belfast been like?
There’s always a real sense of community between bands in Belfast, it’s so small you know everyone. I’m just really loving the online presence that’s keeping us all connected right now until we can all play shows together again.

I don’t know how this goes when we come out the other side, but at the minute there’s a lot of positivity. We are using this time to try and write the album although we can’t get in a room together yet. We just need to ride it out.

Finally, what bands or artists would you recommend we listen to?
Careerist, Problem Patterns, Gross Net, Altered Hours. In fact, do yourself a favour and find an Irish music playlist on Spotify and give that a go. A lot of bands making a lot of great music on this island, as there always has been.

Thanks to Claire for answering our questions. Follow New Pagans on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.