FIVE FAVOURITES: Sans Soucis

Italo-Congolese singer-songwriter Sans Soucis caught our attention after the release of her most recent single, ‘Make One From A Two’. The song explores the complexities of love, uniting Soucis’ delicate vocals with an intimate, orchestral backing to create a tapestry of rich acoustics. She’s set to release her new EP, Unfinished, on 17th April, and we’re excited to hear it.

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 Sans Soucis to ask about their “Five Favourites” – five songs that influenced their song writing techniques. Check out their choices below, and scroll down to listen to ‘Make One From A Two’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Coldplay – ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head’
This is probably what really got me into songwriting. I never properly took the time to write my own music until I was 20, but I started developing a certain sensitivity around songwriting by listening to Coldplay. They are my first love and probably this is one of the first pieces of music on which I shed a few tears when I was a teenager. I believe music can touch many different strings in our lives, depending on where we are, how we relate to it, but certainly great and evergreen music doesn’t leave you any choice but to empathise with what’s presented to you and dig deeper into something you weren’t seeing before. Coldplay unsealed so many new ways for me to decide how and where to fulfil my need to establish a profound connections with people.

2. Nelly Furtado – ‘I’m Like a Bird’
Ok, I’m taking it this right back to the time I had the physical ability to listen to a song more than 20 times in a row. It was a time where I would get excited about music more than anything else around me. Looking back, I think I was starting to stick my nose out for some pop music to sing along to. My sister and I used to make so many CDs to put in the car, and we spent quite a lot on time online “crate-digging”. The only music I was learning and singing at that time was the music I was given in my classical choir, so Nelly Furtado on my way to school, or on my way to my singing classes sounded like freedom. My knowledge of English was just about good enough to catch the chorus, and I remember getting so frustrated with my blurred understanding of the song that I searched for the lyrics online and started translating word by word. I felt like such a hippie every time I was singing it. It’s such a good pop song!

3. St. Vincent – ‘Marry Me’
This is probably from one of my favourite albums ever! I love every track. It is so original; merging pop, classical music, alternative rock, enticing the ear of such a broad range of listeners, unified under the most beautiful melodies and arrangements. When I discovered St. Vincent, I felt musically ready to take all this beauty in. I really respect artists who write their own music and produce it, because I’m doing the same myself and it is of great inspiration to witness how much creativity and boldness is out there to be discovered. She is definitely someone I look up to when I think about my career.

4. Arthur Verocai – ‘Desabrochando’
Arthur Verocai is a Brazilian composer who started releasing music a bit less than 50 years ago. I discovered his music last year and I got massively obsessed with it. The piece I chose comes from his album No Voo Do Urubu, released in 2016. It is so peaceful and beautifully executed. It encapsulate my love for folk music, guitar and orchestration. It reminds me of my grandparents and the afternoons we spent at home listening to old opera cassettes, of my father spinning records from Italian songwriters 24/7 and of my strong connection with my own folklore. This is another example that proves music can speak to anybody, regardless of who they are and where they’re coming from.

5. Bjork – ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’
It was difficult to pick my last one, but I couldn’t leave this one behind. Bjork is a real visionary and I respect her so much to bring big band out for such an epic walk in the 2000s. I love how dramatic this performance is. You almost feel like being in a movie while listening to it. The interpretation draws you in so much that you really don’t feel like leaving in the end. It’s also such a good representation of how I feel when I fall in love, that I feel like claiming it as my personal soundtrack.

Thanks to Sans Soucis for sharing her favourites. Follow Sans Soucis on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more updates.

Photo Credit: Luca Perrin

Five Favourites: Roaches

Swedish four-piece garage band Roaches have just released their new EP ROACHES! and we are loving it! They describe their sound as “Acid flop lollipop fuzzy pussy bug smash lash trash bubble slug hug” – need I say more…

We caught up with Linda & Åsa to tell us their ‘Five Favourites’ – five artists or albums that have influenced their songwriting techniques. They both came back with so many great choices, we let them have five each because we’re nice like that. Check out their choices below, and make sure you give their new EP ROACHES! a listen at the end of this post!

Linda – I have been singing since I was a little girl. For me, it’s been really natural to identify with female singers. Mostly the ones who ”stood out”. Here’s a few of them:

Blondie – ‘Dreaming’
Debbie has been my number one since I was six years old. The first time I heard Blondie was through my father’s cassettes and I fell in love. I was completely fascinated that a girl could sing both in a beautiful and ugly way at the same time. And I still listen to her just as much today! It’s hard to find a favourite song but ‘Dreaming’ is captivating and never gets old!

Siouxsie And The Banshees – ‘Cities in Dust’
This video caught my attention first, not the music. I remember sitting in front of the TV screaming when it came on. Siouxsie has this dark appearance and voice that is really dramatic, and I loved it. ‘Cities in Dust’ is both dark and catchy and it’s about volcanoes! And I love volcanoes!

Kate Bush –  ‘Cloudbusting’
Kate Bush is multi-talented at mixing music, dance and her unique appearance and that really caught my attention at a young age. She is strange and I can relate to that because I feel the same. ‘Cloudbusting’ is my favourite song of hers, it just feels really ‘Kate’, and it resonates with me on a personal level too.

Björk – ‘Jóga’
I have followed Bjork since Kukl and Sugarcubes. It’s hard to describe in words how much she means to me. But, in short, she represents freedom. She has always done what she wants. She can be like a child and the next second a queen. I admire that ability. Björk is the artist I feel closest to myself. I choose Jóga for the love of Björk and the Scandinavian nature.

The Coathangers – ‘Hurricane’
The Coathangers are both inspirational as a band and people. I’ve had the privilege to open for them and got a chance to hang out with them; both their performance and their supportive attitude and words to me really struck a chord. They are cool, cuddly and gave me good advice. I choose ‘Hurricane’ because I love Rusty’s voice and the song is just like them, badass and corky!

Åsa – In taking on the task to list five personal anthems, I felt bound to retrieve some of the songs of my youth. Of course, this leaves out a lot of songs that hold meaning for me. However, my adolescent and young adult life framed my interest in music and woke my desire to perform on stage. So here’s my list, in no particular order – all holding equal weight in their meaning to me:

Dead Moon – ‘It’s O.K.’
Dead Moon are one of my favourite bands of all time. The song ‘It’s O.K.’ is, as for many others, the first song I ever heard of this iconic garage band. I can only hope to be as fierce on stage as Toody after the age of retirement.

Raooul/Skinned Teen – ‘Spirit of ’78’
As a young punk I of course listened to all the women and queers that had managed to “break through” within the scene. Several of whom would have made this list if I had gotten this quest of listings anthems as a member of one of my other bands. This band, however was truly life changing for me. I got the split record with Raooul and Skinned Teen at the age of 14 and it hit me with a blast.

Thee Headcoatees – ‘Wild Man’
One of the things I love with the genre of garage is the kind of sweet sound with rough edges. Girlsville was the first record of this end of the genre, it has this sound with a clear feminist vibe – of course my teenage self was hooked.

PJ Harvey –  ‘To Bring You My Love’
Let England Shake and The Hope Six Demolition Project are probably two of the records I have listened to the most in later years. However, as a young girl I was introduced to PJ Harvey through the records To Bring You My Love and Rid of Me. I truly believe she is one of the greatest musicians in rock music.

The 5, 6, 7 8s – ‘Motorcycle Go Go Go’
Before The 5,6,7,8s appeared in Kill Bill, my brother introduced me to this band, probably through one of the mixtapes that he gave me. They were my introduction to the surf part of the garage rock genres.

Thanks to Linda & Åsa for sharing their favourites! Check out their epic EP ROACHES!, which you can buy from Bandcamp now. Follow Roaches on Facebook and Instagram for more updates.

LIVE: Björk’s Cornucopia Tour – The O2 Arena, London 19.11.19

An opulent, self aware, stunning two hour performance: Icelandic icon Björk was able to “weave a matriarchal dome” over the heads of her transfixed crowd during her Cornucopia live show at London’s O2 Arena. The music pioneer brought her Utopian vision to life through pitch perfect vocals, beautifully orchestrated collaborative sounds, and breath-taking visuals.

Before the show began, a polite audio recording requested that fans refrain from filming or photographing the show, as this would be distracting to Björk. Surprisingly, the majority of fans respected her wishes, and immersed themselves in listening to the aural grandeur of the Icelandic choir who opened the Cornucopia show against a curtain backdrop laced with tropical flowers.

When Björk’s altruistic vocals broke through the airwaves and the stage curtain parted; it felt like straying into a Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dressed in a unique ensemble and accompanied by performers who were both decorated like, and sounded like birds of paradise; Björk delivered a passionate rendition of ‘The Gate’. A flute ensemble led her in to ‘Utopia’, followed by the divine sounds of ‘Arisen My Senses’ with live harp accompaniment and more stunning visuals.

With a clear focus on her two most recent studio albums – 2017’s Utopia, and 2019’s Virtual Reality record Vulnicura – Björk’s set list, shape-shifting animations and optics truly transcended the fourth wall between fans and performer. The set’s sensuality was heightened by so many elements – the incredible stage design, the affluent costumes – as well as Björk’s willingness to experiment with new forms of sound during live shows. At one point in the set, she sings next to a percussionist who is pouring water over pebbles, with the crowd so entranced that it almost feels like every water drop is audible.

With only a handful of older songs making the cut for this performance (most notably ‘Venus As A Boy’ and a partial rendition of ‘Pagan Poetry’), whether this was your first time seeing Björk, or your fiftieth time; Cornucopia is an audio & visual force unlike any other. Björk’s artistic vision is uncompromising in so many ways, which is made especially clear towards the latter part of the show.

Her elaborate spectacle is underscored by a sincere desire to highlight the current climate crisis we are all witnessing. A series of words were projected on to the veil-like stage curtain, urging all to imagine a brighter future under that “matriarchal dome”, with the final statement – “Imagine a future. Be in it” – prompting applause from the crowd. There was a video message from climate crisis activist Greta Thunberg during the finale too, further encouraging fans to practice what Thunberg passionately, and necessarily preaches.

A performance that – despite this review – transcends the barriers of language; Björk’s Cornucopia show deserves to be seen in all its live glory. Its potent message about protecting the earth, and each other, still rings true long after the spotlight fades out. Björk’s vision serves as a reminder to all that altruism and ingenuity mean nothing if there’s not a planet for us all to share, and experience them on.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

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