INTERVIEW: Grandmas House

Since we heard the opening riff of ‘Always Happy’ by Bristol trio Grandmas House, the Get In Her Ears team have been hooked on their sardonic, thumping post-punk sounds. Formed of guitarist & vocalist Yasmin Berndt, drummer & vocalist Poppy Dodgson and bassist Zoë Zinsmeister, the band combine gritty guitars, powerhouse percussion and visceral vocals to create intensely relatable anthems. They were busy cutting their teeth on the UK gig circuit before Covid-19 put an abrupt stop to live music. The trio decided to use their time in lockdown constructively, quickly writing and recording new material, including recent singles ‘Always Happy’ and ‘Small Talk’.

We caught up with Grandmas House to talk about recording fun music videos in lockdown, where they’re looking forward to playing once the current Covid-19 restrictions have lifted and the context behind their latest singles…

Hello Grandmas House! For anyone who doesn’t know, can you explain how you met and originally formed as a band?

Yasmin: We all went to uni together in London. Then me and Poppy moved to Bristol afterwards and then we dragged Zoe along with us well.

Poppy: Yeah, we were like “you’ll love it here!”

Yasmin: We did have a different bassist before Zoe actually, who we also met at uni. She lived in London still and she was commuting so much and that didn’t really work out. Then Zoe moved to Bristol and became our new bassist, so that worked out pretty well. We’ve all been living together now for three years.

Does living together make things easier in terms of recording and writing songs?

Yasmin: We usually go into the studio now that we’re getting a bit more serious about music, but when we started the band it was just demos recorded on all of our phones. We didn’t know how to edit music so we just cropped all the recordings together. But now we try to go to a professional and take it into a studio and stuff. Obviously because of Covid-19 and all the studios being shut, we did have to record a few things from home. We did a few vocals on the mic from home, but that’s it.

You’ve recently released two single, the first of which being ‘Always Happy’. I read that you came up with this track really quickly and unanimously agreed on the context. Is that usually the case when you’re writing songs?

Poppy: I feel like usually it does happen like that, it just flows out. We’re very much on the same wavelength, but there are occasionally times where we get stuck on a song for ages.

Yasmin: I think I think if it doesn’t flow, it’s just not the one. If we’re working on a song and we have to kind of really, really try to make it work, we usually just take ourselves away from it and try something else. I do feel like our really good songs are usually the ones that literally just completely flow out of us though.

Poppy: We know if we’re working on a song for more than an hour, it might be time to put it on the shelf. Sometimes we come back to them of course, but we usually get a good feel for whether a song is working or not quite quickly.

‘Always Happy’ is a song about the misconceptions we have about people’s confidence in social settings and also online. Talk me through what the track’s about, as I know it’s based on your own experiences of performing on stage as well.

Yasmin: I feel like everyone is a bit taken aback by how we are onstage and how loud our music is, especially because our name is Grandmas House, which is quite calm…

Zoe: The track is a mix of thoughts about social anxiety, performing on stage and how people perceive you online, as well as how you show yourself online too. In between songs when we’re on stage, people have said we’re always so smiley, and then we suddenly just start screaming again. There’s been a few gigs where Poppy has been on the drums, looking really, really into it and angry and then as soon as a song ends she’s doing this cute giggle.

Yasmin: I think we’re definitely confident off stage as well. The song is definitely more about mental health and social anxiety that is generally present, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be talkative or chatty after a show. I think you definitely just see a snippet of us, or any other band, when we’re on stage. You don’t see how nervous we are before as well.

Zoe: That adds to the adrenaline we get whilst we’re playing  though. It’s been built up beforehand which is great, so performing is definitely an outlet for that.

The accompanying video you directed for ‘Always Happy’ definitely showcases the fun and the more serious sides of the track. Talk me through it…

Poppy: Originally we were going to film it with some other people, but because of lockdown we suddenly had to try and make it ourselves, but it was so so fun!

Yasmin: We’re quite good at coming up with ideas – if I do say so myself. We love coming up with visuals and talking about would look good aesthetically. So for the video we had three main shots in mind and we were just really lucky and happy with how it came out, exactly how we imagined it.

Zoe: We were really able to create the atmosphere that we wanted for the song. It’s quite a personal song I think, so the fact that we could make it ourselves with no other kind of creative input was really nice.

You’ve also released a new single ‘Small Talk’, which forms part of your two-track cassette release on Brace Yourself Records which Zoe designed the artwork for. Tell me what this track is about…

Yasmin: It’s just about not really liking small talk. It’s one of the first songs we ever wrote. It’s quite a straightforward, snappy, loud, quick song – which I think a lot of our songs are. It’s a bit of a contrast to ‘Always Happy’, it’s a bit rougher and a bit more like our earlier sound.

That’s to the point, I like it. The UK government have teased us with the potential lifting of lockdown restrictions & return of live music if their step-by-step plan over the next few months. If it does work, is there a particular venue or festival you’re keen to play?

Yasmin: We’ve announced that we’re playing Dot to Dot Festival which is so exciting. That’s in Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester. We’ve never played in Nottingham before, so that’s gonna be fun.

Zoe: I honestly feel like we would take anything and play anywhere right now?

Yasmin: I mean, we usually take any gig that gets offered to us because we love playing, but especially now I think we would take anything!

Poppy: I think if we were dreaming big we’d love to play End Of The Road Festival. But yeah, honestly anywhere….

That sounds good! I know we’re all approaching 2021 with caution, but do you have plans to record or release more music this year?

Zoe: We’ve recorded an EP, which will be coming out this year. That’s very exciting.

Yasmin: We’re almost done with it. Covid-19 got in the way of it once again, the studio we were recording it had to shut, but it’s nearly get ready to go. Hopefully we’ll do some more music videos as well.

Looking forward to hearing that! Finally, can you recommend some new music for us to listen to?

Collectively: Ooooh yes! Grove, they’re from Bristol and they’ve just released an EP. Sinead O’Brien, deep tan, LIME, Katy J Pearson – always a favourite! We’re just playing all of these bands on repeat at the moment…

Thanks so much to Grandmas House for chatting with us!

You can buy a copy of ‘Always Happy/’Small Talk’ on limited edition cassette here.

Follow Grandma’s House on bandcampSpotifyInstagramTwitter & Facebook

 

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

INTERVIEW: Softcult

Inspired by their love of 90s alternative music icons Bikini Kill and Smashing Pumpkins, Ontario-based duo Softcult blend atmospheric guitars, energetic percussion and bittersweet vocals to create their hazy, antagonistic sounds. Formed of twin sisters Phoenix and Mercedes Arn Horn, Softcult cut their teeth playing live shows in their local town of Kitchener, before moving on to bigger audiences on the North American tour circuit.

Their experiences of playing and working within a male-dominated music industry formed the foundation for their current sound, which is born from the desire to resist and relieve the pressures of existing in a patriarchal world. We caught up with Mercedes (guitars, vocals) and Phoenix (drums, production) to talk about their debut single ‘Another Bish’, their last gig before covid-19 hit, and what their dream festival line-up might be…

Hello girls, how are you both doing? Are you in lockdown in Canada at the moment?

Mercedes: We’re doing alright, we’re locked down like you guys are in the UK. It’s a lot of time to focus on music and writing and recording, so we’re very lucky that we have a home studio right now. I feel very blessed right now, because for some people I know, being in lockdown has meant they’ve been very unmotivated and unable to write, whereas that hasn’t been our experience at all. We’ve been writing and recoding loads and it’s been a God send to us, it’s kept us sane and active and motivated.

That’s good news! Let’s start at the beginning, who or what originally inspired you to start making your own music?

Mercedes: We’re twin sisters and we’ve been making music together forever. We’ve been in different bands over the years playing and getting some experience, but for this project we felt motivated by everything that’s going on right now. Having been in the music industry already for some time, we’ve experienced misogyny and sexism. At this point, I feel like this band has been put on this planet as a voice against abuse, or for people who don’t feel seen or feel like they don’t have a voice. A lot of our songs are about that.

We speak to lots of women who have unfortunately experienced misogyny in the music industry. Do you think your experience of it is somewhat heightened because you’re twin sisters? I only ask because I have younger sisters who are twins, and when we’ve been on nights out together before people have made inappropriate or creepy comments towards them without any hesitation…

Phoenix: Only another person who really knows twins would ask that, and it is so true. There’s a weird fetish around twins and it’s very creepy.

Mercedes: We find a lot of the time there’s insinuations about incest and weird stuff like that. I know a lot of women in bands who aren’t even related who have experienced that. Heart are a good example actually. The sisters in that band are constantly being pitted against each other and I think that happens a lot with women and siblings in the industry and it’s just so weird. It’s a definite downside to being a twin, but there’s also an up side too.

Phoenix and I have such a close connection and that helps a lot with our music. She’s always a step ahead of me, or finishing my sentences creatively for me. She handles all of the production side – everything we make is recorded and produced from our home studio. Then I handle all the stuff on the video/visual side of things and it just makes for a good team. There’s a closeness and and understanding and an empathy that we have from being twins, it’s not all just creepy dudes!

That’s true! Talk to me about your debut single ‘Another Bish’. What’s it about? How did you put the video for it together etc.?

Mercedes: The song is about misogyny. Phoenix and I hate the word “bitch” so we couldn’t even put it in the title, we literally felt skeeved out writing it down! The lyric “I’m just another bish that you’ll never tame” was supposed to be aimed at that typical misogynist dude who thinks all women are the same, and they’re there to be controlled and conquered. The song is from the perspective of the woman who’s sick of it and feels like the dog who’s finally going to bite its owner. It’s about fighting against that but also owning it. We noticed the type of guys who often say “she’s such a bitch” are just saying that about women who they think are outspoken. They just label them as “aggressive.”

For the video, we used paper cut-out clips of different women’s facial features – eyes, lips, nose – which we replaced with dog mouths. The dog mouths reflect the feelings of those guys who think that when you speak out about sexism you’re just some yappy dog who never shuts up. They’re also supposed to be a comment on how there’s so many double standards for women, not just in music but in the beauty industry as well. Women are having to basically try and be something that’s unattainable and if you’re not that thing, then they make out like you’re not trying hard enough. So we took those themes and put them into the video.

Are there any women in music at the moment who you admire who are standing up for themselves and not taking any sexist bullshit?

Phoenix: Laura Jane Grace from Against Me! – big time. We were just little teeny boppers when we first found out about Against Me! and we were obsessed. She’s a huge icon for a lot of reasons, but something I’ve always admired about her is that she is really outspoken about who she is. It’s so brave to go through the transgender transformation when you’re in a very male dominated space in a very male dominated music genre, and just rebelling against all expectations and being yourself. That’s a huge inspiration.

Do you remember the last gig you went to before Covid-19 hit?

M & P: Yes!

Mercedes: It was another music project that we in at the time and it was at this dive bar. It was in March (2020), right after the stay-at-home orders happened and we were trying to play our way home, but we realised we had to cancel everything because it was just not responsible to have shows. So it was our very last gig and the vibe was very depressing.

Phoenix: People obviously didn’t show up, quite rightly, and we just wanted to go home.

Mercedes: We actually ended up staying over at a girls house. Up until then we were just crashing on floors on the tour, we didn’t have hotels booked or anything like that. So this girl kindly let us stay at her place and made us pizzas.

Phoenix: We were like “are you sure you still want us to stay? It’s totally cool if you don’t, we can sleep in the van!” but she still let us crash.

Mercedes: Her Dad had all these cool guitars so we just had a jam session with her. So after a kind of depressing show, we had this jam session in her living room and it was probably the most uplifting thing ever. That was probably the last real hang time we had with anyone outside of our house since lockdown started.

When we can all hang out properly at a festival again, who would be on your dream line-up?

Mercedes: I keep watching all these old videos from Reading & Leeds festival and wishing we could play that somehow…one day!

Phoenix: We’ve watched the Reading & Leeds Veruca Salt set a million times!

Mercedes: We love the UK. Every time we’ve been there we’ve had such an amazing time. I think the scene for music in the UK is sort of unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been. The fans are so in to the music. They know the lyrics, they know about the meaning behind the little pieces of art on your albums covers – I feel like they’re really into it and that’s really cool. Our dream line-up would be a dope festival somewhere in the UK and we’d have Bikini Kill, Veruca Salt, Against Me! playing…

Phoenix: …and Radiohead, they’re one of my all time favourite bands.

Mercedes: We’ll play the opening slot at 11am so that we can watch all the other bands.

Good decision! Finally, if you had to describe your music in three words, what would they be?

Mercedes: Rebellious would be one, empathetic might be another. It’s not all just angry stuff though, sometimes it gets pretty feelsy and sad.

Phoenix: Fuzzy? (laughs). On the production side, people always think that distortion and fuzz are for loud music, which typically they are, but you can also make super dreamy, fuzzy distorted music and we try to do that as best as we can.

Huge thanks to Mercedes & Phoenix for answering our questions!

Follow Softcult on SpotifyInstagramFacebook & Twitter for more updates

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

#ThrowbackThursday: GIHE w/ Petty Phase (15.03.18)

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and new lockdown in London, we’re unable to make it into the Hoxton Radio studio to broadcast our weekly live new music show from 7-9pm. Instead, we’re sharing previous GIHE radio show recordings as #ThrowbackThursday sessions, so you can still enjoy 2 hours of new music tunes & chats with some of our favourite artists each week.

Today, we’ve picked our March 2018 show with Essex-based Riot Grrrls Jen & Alyx from Petty Phase. Kate and Mari spoke to them about playing live for GIHE at our first ever Finsbury Pub gig, the unique “subtle anger” experienced in the queue for Wetherspoons, and the pair played stripped back versions of tracks ‘The Jesus Touch’ and ‘Chinese Whispers’

Listen back to the show here:

Tracklist
Chromatics – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper cover)
The Blow – After Party
Faber – Nasty Woman
Bella Barton – Reflections
Henry Green – Another Light
Abie Wade – Reasonable Doubt
Suzie Stapleton – Negative Prophet
GOUX – Over You
MORGAN – Hells Paradise
JAAYNS – Monitors
Rebecca Lou – Under The Moon
Post Louis – Little Jack
Petty Phase – You’ll Be Dead
**Interview & Live Session with Petty Phase**
Honey – Rapunzel
Glam Skanks – Bad Bitch
Smerz – No Harm
Pillow Queens – Favourite
Frankie Knight – Day By Day
Steele – Know Her
Odina – Nothing Makes Sense
Brooke Law – Hidden
Cosy Slippers – Not Hard To Say Goodbye
Tracy Chapman – Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution

Get In Her Ears w/ PELA 03.09.20

Tash and Kate were raging and raving in the Hoxton Radio studio this week, playing tunes by some of the female artists they believe should have made the cut for the Reading & Leeds Festival 2021 lineup (six headliners, all of them male…JOKERS.) They also caught up with Hannah from London/Brighton duo PELA to talk about the singles the band released during lockdown, and how much they collectively love Arlo Parks.

Listen back:

Tracklist
Wolf Alice – Yuk Foo
Chelsea Wolfe – Deranged For Rock & Roll
Chartreuse – Enemy’s Belly
BE – Oh Helen
Vanessa Richardson – Spider
FKA Twigs – Sad Day
CATBEAR – Girl Crush
Silly Boy Blue – Hi It’s Me Again
Billie Eilish – all the good girls go to hell
Verity Holloway – Spill My Guts
LADA – Suicide
Eimie – Not Enough
Nova Twins – Vortex
Lizzy Waps – Thanos
Lizzo – Good As Hell
PELA – South Of
Tolu Makay – Don’t Let Go
Girlhood – Queendom
Nina Cobham – Solar (remix ft. BiPolar Sunshine)
Wife Patrol – Let’s Hang Out
Daniela Andrade – Puddles
Hanya – Texas
I See Rivers – Dying Moon
BAXTR – Feathers
Mawpit – Eat A Corpse
HAIM – My Song 5
Beyonce – Who Run The World (Girls)