FIVE FAVOURITES: Boy Harsher

We’re no strangers to the dark, heated sounds of electronic two piece, Boy Harsher. Together, Augustus Muller (synths/percussion) and Jae Matthews (vocals) have released two albums and two EPs since their inception in 2014. Their songs brim with beats designed to ricochet around smoky dance-floors or lonely bedroom walls. The Massachusetts duo blend nostalgic 80s percussion with sharp modern production to create an immersive, magnetic listening experience.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Jae 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 Boy Harsher’s video for ‘Send Me a Vision’ at the end of this post.

1. Annie Lennox – MEDUSA
When I was a child, during a rocky divorce, my mom would listen to this album nonstop. Luckily, I was at the age where it wasn’t lame to sing along with your mom, and boy, did we get into it! On a subconscious level, these songs (Annie Lennox in general) gave me this attachment to a contralto voice in contemporary music. DIVA and MEDUSA both got equal play, but my story with MEDUSA is a bit embarrassing. I didn’t realize the songs were all covers, so when years later I heard the originals (like Bob Marley’s ‘Waiting in Vain’ or Al Green’s ‘Take Me to the River’) I was a bit shocked.

2. Nirvana – Nevermind
A classic. I made my dad buy this CD at a garage sale, which he did – yet later took away, due to “it’s graphic nature”. A stubborn child, I found it and hid away with my new love and Walkman. ‘Something in the Way’ really rocked my core. I was a lonely pre-teenager and I remember this music kept me company in a very real way. Now, I can’t listen without getting very nostalgic.

3. Pixies – Doolittle
Okay – this one is tough. It’s a tie between this and Cat Power’s Moon Pix. Both took up the same space in high school. I would listen to ‘Debaser’, literally SCREAMING along with my first crush. Then, later when home, would listen to ‘Metal Heart’ (lol) and cry, because she would never love me. Ah, the drama. I needed a support system for understanding my sexuality and processing my Father’s death. Both albums are amazing in their ability to muster emotion; sometimes flippant or mean, often raw and always very authentic.

4. Troller – Troller
I left the Northeast for graduate school and moved South. It was the furthest I had ever been from my family. It was a really amazing, lonely time. After attending SXSW in 2013, my musical understanding totally changed. I became a devotee of label Holodeck’s projects (Thousand Foot Whale Claw, Survive, Boan, Smokey Emery) and Troller. This is the first physical RECORD that I ever bought. Listened to it over and over – it still makes me think of Savannah, the rain, smoking inside, kissing.

5. Circuit Des Yeux – Overdue
After living in Savannah for a couple years, myself and my partner starting booking shows. We focused mainly on projects that centered on experimentation, some noise, and no drums. We booked Circuit Des Yeux on their first US tour in a small dive bar in downtown Savannah. Far too few people came. It was such an amazing performance. The way Haley used her voice was really inspiring to me – startling even. I began to understand the voice and body as an instrument, a performance tool. This really impacted the way that I sought to use my voice.

Photo Credit: Zach Hart

Five Favourites: Sui Zhen

Set to release her upcoming third album in September, Melbourne artist Sui Zhen has recently captivated our ears with latest single ‘Perfect Place’. Inspired by how we exist in the digital age, the track flows with glitchy, playful beats and twinkling, ‘80s-inspired hooks alongside Zhen’s quirky, honey-sweet vocals. An instantly infectious slice of sparkling alt-pop.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a new band/artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Sui to talk about her ‘Five Favourites’ – five albums or tracks that have influenced her songwriting techniques, or simply take her back to a specific feeling or time. Read about her choices here…

Strawberry Switchblade – Strawberry Switchblade 
This album has been a staple in my record bag since it was gifted to me by a friend in Koenji, Tokyo. I love how the songs are naive and saccharine but sad and melancholic underneath, expressed in a synth-pop style with layered reverberant vocals reminiscent of an upbeat Cocteau Twins. My favourite is the banality captured in ‘Who Knows What Love Is’ – it’s totally nostalgic for a crush that once was. It reminds me of the first time I smelt the pages of Dolly Mag, peeling back the ‘Sealed Section’ section. I enjoy the instrumental arrangements and danceable aspect of this kind of pop music and love to mix this in a set to get people feeling warm and fuzzy.

The Eurythmics – ‘Love Is A Stranger’
It’s really difficult to choose songs by Annie Lennox – my Mum loved her music, so her solo albums Diva and Medusa hold a very special place in my heart, but for me it would have started with The Eurythmics – ‘Love Is A Stranger’. I don’t know how many times I have listened to this song, particularly the part “And it wrenches you up and you’re left like a zombie!” when her voice is wild and so expressive, but the beat remains hard, driving yet restrained. The hooks feel so natural – it’s the kind of songwriting I aspire to make someday. I also love how the track just fades out. Like, seeya my job here is done.

Antena – Camino Del Sol
I think the first moment I properly was able to hear how I could complement my songwriting style with drum machine beats came with listening to Antena over and over. Prior to that I experimented with electronic production based on the music I enjoyed hearing at clubs, but couldn’t work out the best approach when I would go to work on something. An audience member told me to check Isabelle Antena’s music because they thought it would be a good reference point, but I couldn’t easily find it at the time (mid-2000s). It wasn’t until I started record shopping in Japan that I was able to connect more with the ‘neo-folk’ synth-pop of Antena and other artists like Anna Domino and Scribble. The bossa nova style guitar over a thumping kick is something I have carried into my productions thanks to this band.

CAN – ‘Future Days’
This is literally my go to take-off music. I listen to Can or Dunkelziffer when flying, there’s something about krautrock that settles me and helps me when drifting in and out of sleep. I find the stream of consciousness flow and spontaneity in the music so dreamlike and also very comforting, grounded in unfiltered expression. Emotion is throughout, but not the centrepiece, and I like that. There’s a free kind of optimism to this track too which makes it so listenable. 

Sugar Cubes – ‘Deus’
I absolutely slammed the Sugar Cubes in my teenage years. I had exhausted Bjork’s back catalogue from way too many listens and moved into her previous work and found I enjoyed it more on repeat listen. It had a bit more space, was a bit looser, less intensely emotional and uncomfortable. I love the pairing of male & female vocal in this track. I don’t listen to Bjork at all these days, even though at the time I thought there was no better artist. I remember trying to sing like her in the shower and Mum making fun of me for trying to do that iconic guttural thing. It was definitely around this time, aged fifteen, I subconsciously decided to pursue music.

Massive thanks to Sui for taking the time to discuss her choices. However, as she found it difficult to pick just five, we’ve also put together a little playlist of all the songs that she felt have impacted her work in some way – listen on Spotify now!

Losing, Linda, the upcoming album from Sui Zhen, is out 27th September via Cascine. Watch the video for latest single ‘Perfect Place’ below:

Photo Credit: Agnieszka Chabros

Playlist: Galentine’s Day 2019

Grrrls, it’s the best day of the year: GALENTINE’S DAY! Coined by Parks and Recreation character Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) back in 2010, Galentine’s has since been recognised by girls across the globe, and used as a light-hearted platform to celebrate the girls and womxn who enrich our lives.

We wanted to celebrate it with you in the best way possible: by chucking some of our favourite female-identifying artists on a big old playlist. We’re all about self-love & sisterly (not just cis-terly) love today, so have a read about our choices, then hit play!

Aretha Franklin & Annie Lennox – ‘Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves’
Whenever I hear this I immediately want to get up and dance. Two talented women coming together to sing about equality and independence never fails to make me feel good. It was released in 1985, but the lyrics are just as poignant today.
(Kate Crudgington)

The Julie Ruin – ‘Girls Like Us’
I couldn’t make a playlist and not include something from queen Kathleen. And this track from The Julie Ruin seems to sum up our feelings this Galentine’s perfectly. A unifying anthem for all us misfit grrrls, it never fails to pick me up and leave me feeling ready to face the world. 
(Mari Lane)

Argonaut – ‘You Are’
With motivational lyrics such as “You rock, you can change the world, you inspire boys and girls, you can do anything!”, Argonaut’s ‘You Are’ is the perfect motivational pop-punk anthem to unite and empower you and your friends this Galentine’s.
(ML)

Honeyblood – ‘Babes Never Die’
Every time I hear Honeyblood’s Stina sing “Witch if I float, damned if I don’t” on this track it fills me with such a rush of defiance. It’s an anthem for resilience and I regularly return to it on days where I need extra motivation.
(KC)

Sleater Kinney – ‘Modern Girl’
I’m currently reading Carrie Brownstein’s memoir ‘Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl’ (the title of which is taken from this track) and it is honestly one of the most enjoyable and refreshing reads – she just seems totally down to earth, unpretentious and incredibly witty. And one thing that particularly stands out throughout is (despite encountering various obstacles) the constant unwavering friendship and unity between Brownstein and bandmate Corin Tucker. 
(ML)

Wolf Alice – ‘Beautifully Unconventional’
I dismissed this song the first time I heard it on Visions Of A Life because it’s not as heavy or shoegazey as the majority of Wolf Alice’s other songs. However, when I heard it live and frontwoman Ellie dedicated the song to a female friend, it changed the way I listened to it. Now when I hear the track, I think of how great that gig was, and how great it is to celebrate being a “beautifully unconventional” girl.
(KC)

Panic Pocket – ‘Mr Big’
Inspired by too many formative Sex And The City marathons, ‘Mr Big’ is an uplifting ditty about desperately wanting your close friend to stop defining herself by her relationship status and focus instead on friendship. Strewn with memorable SATC quotes, highlighting the importance of friendship – “Don’t laugh at me but maybe we could be each other’s soulmates” – it’s a luscious slice of indie-pop from the duo. (ML)

Dream Nails – ‘Chirpse Degree Burns’
The mock-anxiety Dream Nails sing with as they lament about being ghosted on this track is so funny and so relatable! This is the perfect Galentine’s (and Valentine’s) Day anthem.
(KC)


The Baby Seals – ‘Guuurl’
With their uplifting charisma and triumphant wit, The Baby Seals consistently champion autonomy and body positivity with their wonderfully tongue-in-cheek offerings. Celebrating all things female and breaking gender boundaries in all the right ways, with ‘Guuurl’ The Baby Seals assure us that we can indeed pee where want to. And we cannot wait to seem them live again for us at The Finsbury celebrating International Women’s Day on 8th March!
(ML)

Miss Eaves – ‘Bush For The Push’
A vibrant celebration of self love, GIHE fave Miss Eaves’ ‘Bush For The Push’ is filled with all her trademark disco-punk energy, reminiscent of queen Peaches. An empowering and wonderfully entertaining call to be free to have the bush you want – “It’s your body, so have a little fun…” – it encourages us to celebrate and take pride in our body, whatever shape or size it may be.
(ML) 

Nova Twins – ‘Hit Girl’
Georgia & Amy share a unique talent for making riotous new music, and they’re a brilliant example of what you can achieve when you’re working alongside your best friend. They’ve yet to release a song I don’t instantly fall in love with, and I can’t wait to catch them live again later this year at Cro Cro Land.
(KC)

Lizzo – ‘Good As Hell’
I just can’t get enough of Lizzo’s joyous, body-positive spirit and immensely infectious offerings. And with motivational lyrics such as “Come now, come dry your eyes; you know you a star, you can touch the sky”, ‘Good As The Hell’ is the ultimate feel-good anthem to sing at the top of your lungs to your besties when they need cheering up.
(ML)

Cyndi Lauper – ‘Time After Time’
With Galentine’s Day originally being coined by the ever inspirational Leslie Knope from Parks And Recreation, I just had to include this classic. ‘Time After Time’ soundtracks a rare moment of unity between contrasting characters April and Ann in the series, as we see the two coming together (with an appearance from Donna!), singing this song, showing the power of music in bringing us together. 
(ML)

Alanis Morissette – ‘Thank you’
This iconic 1998 tune from Alanis is the best thing to sing to yourself on a day where things aren’t going your way, or if you need a minute to take stock of what you’re really grateful for. Whether you do that in your head, in front of your bedroom mirror, or naked in the street like Alanis does in the video is entirely up to you…
(KC)

Antony and the Johnsons – ‘You Are My Sister’
I can’t put into words just how utterly beautiful and deeply moving I find this song, so I’ll just leave it here: “You are my sister, and I love you, may all of your dreams come true.” Happy Galentine’s, sisters. 
(ML)

Listen to our special Galentine’s Day Playlist here, and give us a follow on Spotify if you fancy it: