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

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

Track Of The Day: Lotic – ‘Solace’

Fearless bitches unite! Houston-born – now Berlin-based – Lotic has shared new single ‘Solace’; a lo-fi but potent reminder to be true to yourself. The track is taken from Lotic’s upcoming debut album Power, set to be released on 13th July via Tri-Angle Records.

Speaking about the new track, Lotic said “‘Solace’ is my reminder to myself that no matter how hard things get, trouble don’t last always! Hang in there, it’s gon’ be ok! It’s my self-reminder that I actually am a fearlesss bitch, and that experiencing pain or hardship is not a weakness but a moment for growth, for strength.”

Influenced by electronic pioneers such as Bjork and the underground culture of the Berlin night life they’ve immersed themselves in; Lotic’s music is fierce, meaningful, and drips with passion and desire. Listen to ‘Solace’ below and follow Lotic on Facebook for more updates.

Listen to ‘Solace’ on Spotify.

Photo credit: Matt Lambert

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: December 2017

The most wonderful time of the year is fast-approaching, and we’ve got no time to mess around (with the exception of the work Christmas party, those festive drinks tomorrow night, and that gig next week). Us Get In Her Ears grrrls have put together the best selection of treats since your Nan dished out the speciality Christmas-size box of biscuits. Lose yourself in the punk sass of Queen Zee, the important (and catchy) activism of Gaptooth & Sisters Uncut, the divine escapism of Black Gold Buffalo, the beautiful sounds of AmparoBjork and many, many more…

Queen Zee – ‘Idle Crown’
Hot on the heels of their last single ‘Fly The Pink Flag’, my absolute favourites Queen Zee have released brand new track ‘Idle Crown’; and it’s a riotous, hostile, smartly executed three and a half minutes of Marilyn Manson-esque garage punk. Released via the band’s own label (Sasstone Records), the Liverpool band have yet to record something I don’t instantly fall in love with. (Kate Crudgington)

Gaptooth (feat. Sisters Uncut) – ‘They Cut We Bleed’
A tribute to, and raising money for, Feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut – a charity who protest the life-threatening cuts to services for domestic violence – Gaptooth’s ‘They Cut We Bleed’ rages against the government with a frenzied, impassioned energy and empowering force. With shades of the likes of Le Tigre or MEN, it oozes whirring beats, glitchy electronic melodies and colourful uplifting vibes; the perfect call to arms that we need now more than ever. As Gaptooth says: “All these sexist, racist cuts, we don’t need ’em”. Watch the powerful video for ‘They Cut We Bleed’, featuring Sisters Uncut, here. (Mari Lane)

Sink Ya Teeth – ‘If You See Me’
‘If You See Me’ was the debut single from Sink Ya Teeth who signed to James Endeacott’s 1965 Records this year. The track is drenched in addictive beats and nods to post-punk royalty ESG. A particular highlight for me was watching Sink Ya Teeth perform this live at one of our Finsbury nights; catch them if you can, these guys are worth seeing live. (Tash Walker)

Anteros – ‘Love’
My eyes and ears are blossoming in to heart-shapes at the “effervescent pop” sounds on Anteros’ latest single ‘Love’. Produced by Charlie Andrew (Alt-J, Marika Hackman, Bloc Party), The London-based band channel Blondie and The Cardigans on their brand new ode to the all encompassing universal emotion. (KC)

Sonia Stein – ‘Do You Love Me?’
‘Do You Love Me?’, the new single from London based artist Sonia Stein, oozes gloriously sunny, uplifting ‘80s pop vibes, catchy hooks and rich luscious vocals. Of the track, Stein explains: “Do You Love Me is a song that is quite a bright and light approach to a feeling that’s a bit darker and heavier… The track’s accompanied by a fantastic Vogue-inspired, pastel-filled video, which you should definitely feast your eyes on now. (ML)

Amparo – ‘Reset’
If I could…I would have chosen everything that Amparo has released this year, constantly creating such beautiful dreamy soundscapes but if forced (and I am being forced) I’d go with ‘Reset’. A firm favourite of mine taken from Amparo’s EP Isolated Islands which has a melodic-chill atmosphere created with the idea of being enjoyed whilst exploring the outdoors.  Absolutely excellent listening. (TW)

Black Gold Buffalo – ‘Pearls Deep’
If you’re in search of musical escapism, you’ll find it in Black Gold Buffalo’s latest track ‘Pearls Deep’. Written on a stormy night in a tower block somewhere near the A10, the East London band have said the single is about “wanting to escape a brooding mood in the city, to just get up and go somewhere and nowhere.” It’s the first single to be taken from the band’s long-awaited debut album, which is due to be released in March 2018. (KC)

Gold Baby – ‘Feed It!’
In addition to featuring members of some of our favourite bands (like Long Teeth), newcomers Gold Baby create their own hugely infectious offerings. Filled with all the jangly melodies, sumptuous vocals and whirring scuzzy goodness you could ever desire, debut single ‘Feed It!’ is a sunny-sounding slice of indie-rock ruminating on the times in life where we feed it (“the little voice of misery”). A solid gold debut that leaves us eager for more. (ML)

Polo – ‘Gold Horizons’
I was introduced to this track by Mari, so shout out to her for that. This has got to be the catchiest track of the year for me, which makes a change from my normal graveyard, self-deprecating morose electro. Press play for Polo. It’s worth it. (TW)

Björk – ‘The Gate’
One of my 2017 New Year’s Resolutions was to listen to more of Bjork’s music, so the release of her tenth studio album Utopia has arrived just in time for me to fulfil that promise. It’s a superbly produced, delicately sung, gem of an album that brought a tear to my eye on first listen. ‘The Gate’ is a particular favourite because it blends vulnerability and strength in a delightfully idiosyncratic way. (KC)

The Go! Team – ‘Mayday’ 
If you’re anything like me, and Thunder Lightening Strike provided the soundtrack to many a teenage night out, you’ll be as excited as I am to hear The Go! Team’s magnificent new single ‘Mayday’. A morse-code inspired, soul-infused belter of a track, it races with all the frenzied energy and playful joy that we’ve come to know and love from the band – an instant ear worm, and essential dance-inducing addition to any festive party playlist. (ML)

Smerz – ‘Because’
Low slung rhythms, crunching beats and those ever so distinctive vocals, Because in short is some of the best obscure techno-pop around. Copenhagen based duo delivering distorted electro tracks, a perfect mix of minimal futurism and experimental nostalgia.  I’m so into this track, it makes me feel like I want to don a heavy orange bomber jacket, an East 17 style beanie and head down to some industrial rave in a warehouse and two-step the night away. (TW)