FIVE FAVOURITES: Mira Lu Kovacs (5K HD)

Austrian experimental-pop group 5K HD shared their new LP, High Performer, in September earlier this year, and their feet have barely touched the ground since. They’re currently touring the new record across Europe, filling stages with a blend of their poppy, jazzy, prog-rock beats. Vocalist Mira Lu Kovacs is regarded by critics and peers as one of the most expressive voices in the scene, and with a team of multi-instrumentalists behind her, it’s easy to see why 5K HD are in such high demand. 

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Mira to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for for 5K HD’s track ‘Crazy Talk’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Ani DiFranco – Evolve / Educated Guess
With Ani DiFranco I grew up! I remember I was 11 and my step father at that time played a mixed CD (it couldn’t have been a tape, it was the late 90s). He put on Ani DiFranco’s ‘Marrow’ right after Tori Amos’ ‘Cornflake Girl’, what a mix! I didn’t understand much, cause my mother tongue is German, so the only thing I grasped was the phrase “And where did you put all those letters that you wrote to yourself, but could not address?” I don’t know if it was her finger picking (or should i say ripping?) on her steely guitars, or her edgy playful singing? I think it was the seriousness of her songwriting, I felt spoken to. It was really magical. Later, I listened to all her albums. Now I would say my favourites are Evolve and Educated Guess, but to me Ani DiFranco is such a poet and what she does must be evaluated as a whole and not just one album. She inspired me endlessly, even if her sound aesthetic isn’t the one that I am looking for today.

2. Radiohead – Hail To The Thief
Hail To The Thief is maybe an atypical Radiohead album to start with, no? I think I listened to this one at the age of 14 and then traveled back in time to learn about Kid A, OK Computer and The Bends (which I only appreciated later in my musical career). Most Radiohead Hardliners don’t understand why this album is so special to me. But I think, again, the songwriting is especially good on this one and there is a new shininess in their sound with this album. Also – ‘Backdrifts’, ‘We Suck Young Blood” and “I Will “ (to date the only song I ever publicly covered – acappella) – what great songs to speak to a depressed teenager!

3. Aldous Harding – Designer
This one is quite new, and has been such an inspiration to me this year. I just love the boldness and uncompromising softness in Aldous Harding’s music. I didn’t allow myself this kind of softness for a while, and now I feel like it’s coming back. The allowance, it’s something that I was scared of, because: how else to defend myself? I thought I needed to be loud and clear and aggressive. I am that, too, but I need to allow the softness to comfort me, as well. I feel like the beautifully weird old/new voice of Aldous Harding reminded me of that part of me. Thank you ❤

4. Beth Gibbons – Out Of Season
I can’t believe I only found this album 3 years ago. What a production! What songwriting! What truth, what openness. Sorry, there’s not much else to say. She’s a genius. The arrangements are sparse and pompous at the same time. I think this is where I wanna go in the future and who I wanna be when I grow up.

5. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
I think this was the album of a whole generation. It changed many things, not only musically, but also in the industry. The simplicity set new standards. The vulnerability in his voice was a new level of emotion. Whatever genius album Bon Iver made after this, this one is still one of the most brutally beautiful ones that there are.

Thanks to Mira for sharing her favourites with us. Follow 5K HD on Facebook for more info on their current tour dates.

Photo Credit: Ingo Pertramer

FIVE FAVOURITES: Wallis Bird

Having just released her sixth album Woman via Mount Silver Records/Caroline International, modern folk singer Wallis Bird seems to be in a good place. The Irish songwriter uses her music to speak out against injustice, writing in a confessional style and blurring the lines between the genres of modern folk, roots and soul.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Wallis to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her song writing techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch her video for ‘As The River Flows’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Ani DiFranco – Living in Clip
Changed my life. I was 11, was really growing into my skin on the guitar and my lyrics, I was finding out who I was and Ani burst down my doors. She was a queer feminist in defiance of bureaucracy and sexism and it was so fresh and out of this world to me, I found my back straighten and my eyes clear. It was a turning point. They way she pounded the guitar as if it was a weapon, the depth of chord structure, the prolific output, the badass necessity for creativity – no one like her then nor now.

2. Björk – Vespertine
Björk married Avantgarde with pop and classical in this ethereal, emotional warm embrace of a record. It’s an absolute timeless classic where electronic and traditional instrumentation move horizontally across space and time, and she dances the linear by diving deep into langerous pregnant pauses, long sensual outros of choirs with purist choral, Icelandic landscape escapism… I visualise deeply when I put this record on. Lyrically she discovers a new side to her sex, which she describes it in a detailed, curious, positive and private way – celebrating vulnerability, dreams, intimacy, secrecy and this fragile flesh we’re all in.

3. There Magic Lantern – A World in a Grain of sand
I’ve listened to this record more than any other record I think. Possibly over 200 times. The emotive dynamic, the positive message tinged with some kind of despair. The musicianship, the instrumentation. It moves from English folk to exotic afrobeat to modern NY jazz. It sounds open, wide and luxuriously recorded, giving so much breathing space that the listener feels freed and cosy and listened to. I adore the clever drum timing, the breathy wind instruments and Jamie Doe’s unique vocal style and gently powerful lyricism. This album is a friend of mine.

4. Sam Vance Law – Homotopia
Sam is a friend of mine, but before I knew him I was a fan of his music. We played in the band together and I basically stole him so that I could spend time with the person who wrote what I consider an iconic modern pop record. He tells tales, long and short about narcism, sexual adventures and misadventures, coming out, social suicide, staying in the closet, faking a happy marriage, all wrapped in orchestral instrumentation, sometimes punk, sometimes indie pop, ambling bridges, satirical and snide lyrics, true love, true confusion in youth, pure dreams, mature and clever and unforgettable. Vidal Gore meets The Cure. An album like no other.

5. The Prodigy – Music For a Jilted Generation
My first foray into how beautiful and merciful getting fucked up and dancing your pain away can be. It is wild, concentrated progressive passionate hard and heavy and fucking fantastic dance music. My sister played loads of these tracks at her wedding and all the siblings just broke the dance floor open! it was a real source of relief for us as a family. If we were pent up, if we needed to wind down, this album always did the job for us, when it was playing you left each other alone and everything was all ok afterwards!

Thanks to Wallis for sharing her favourites with us. Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Jens Oellermann