INTERVIEW: Breakup Haircut

Today is International Day Of The Girl (11th October), a time to champion the achievements of girls on a global scale and to highlight and challenge the gender inequality that girls still face today.

Women Of The World Festival (WOW)’s research into gender disparity in music has found the following: “Recent studies show how underrepresented women are in the industry: a landmark US survey reported that from 2019 to 2020, female artists fell from 22.5% to 20.2%; female songwriters decreased from 14.4% to 12.9%; and female producers declined from 5% to just 2%. The research also took a representative sample of 600 songs between 2012 and 2020, of 23 individual women credited as producers just seven were women of colour, resulting in an overall ratio of one woman of colour to every 180 male producers.”

Determined to help change these statistics, WOW Festival created their WOW Sounds music programme to showcase and celebrate a range of girl bands from across the globe. This year, they’ve recorded performances with Nadia Javed, Breakup Haircut, Sri Lankan acoustic trio The Singing Potatoes, Roma girl band Pretty Loud and a project Naytive Mentorship led by Australian rapper and songwriter Naomi Wenitong. Each performance has been released as an exclusive short set with an introduction about the artist/band’s activism. The UK acts all filmed sets at EartH Hackney which you can watch via WOW’s IGTV and YouTube throughout today.

We caught up with Ishani, Ripley & Delphine – aka Breakup Haircut – who formed at First Timers Fest in 2019 to talk about their performance for WOW Sounds, how they think things have progressed in recent years for girls interested in music, their work with First Timers Fest and the work/life balance that accompanies being in a band that you love…

Hello Breakup Haircut! Talk to me about the pre-recorded set you played for WOW Sounds at EartH in Hackney…

Ishani: It was a really cool, fun experience. I thought our set was really chilled because we rehearse constantly, so it wasn’t too big a thing to play stuff from start to finish like that. Everyone was so nice. The sound engineer at EartH is called Luca and he was a very chill person to hang out with. I was also playing bass in Nadia Javed’s band too, so I was there for a bit longer.

Ripley: We played three of our tracks, ‘Why Can’t I Be Cool Enough To Move To Berlin?’, ‘Mum, I Wanna Be a Greaser’ and ‘I Don’t Want To Be Your Friend’.

Delphine: I’ve been to WOW as a punter and been to talks and shows before, but not as a direct contributor to the festival. It’s pretty nice to be on the other side of the stage!

I’m looking forward to watching your performance! As you all know, International Day Of The Girl is about highlighting the triumphs and the challenges that girls face. In terms of music, do you think things have improved for girls and young gender non-conforming people who are interested in joining bands and playing instruments since you were girls? 

Ishani: I think there are more movements now than to help people to diversify the music scene and that’s a really good thing. When I was younger, the reason I didn’t start a band was more because of my location. I grew up in the northeast and it’s not great for people of colour up there. It wasn’t easy to find people who wanted to play music with me. I think being in a big city is one thing, but also having movements like First Timers Fest and WOW Sounds, they make it a much friendlier and nicer place. You don’t have to brunt quite as much hostility to get to the point of playing a show or playing music. I think there are people who champion and try really hard in that to make stuff happen. Two of us are on the committee for First Timers and we help out with that now. That’s something we think is very important and we want to champion people being able to play music.

Delphine: I didn’t grow up in this country, so I can’t really talk about the UK in general, and I have no idea what France is like at the moment because I’ve been here in the UK for 17 years. So I’m like: “I can’t talk about the UK as a kid, but I can’t talk about France as an adult.” But in France I come from a very rural area where because of distances it’s a challenge to access things.

I think music is a bit different in the sense that France is very serious. You either go to music school and you study music, or you don’t do music. In terms of representation, I come from a very white area. So if you were a person of colour, it probably would have been harder as well. It’s not a very diverse. So in terms of representation and challenging that, it just didn’t happen at the time. But it probably has changed a lot now and I’m glad it has, because we’re actually waking up to the fact that there is space for everybody. You have to allow people to be themselves and you have to allow people to express their art, because everybody’s happier that way. I think championing minorities and allowing more access and making effort to actually give access to more people is going to benefit everybody in the long term.

Ripley: I think it’s definitely better than when I grew up in terms of accessibility. I’m from a family where no one does music except for me. I grew up military and I moved around a lot and pretty much every school I went to, music was for kids who had money. Financially as a family we were comfortable, but music lessons were really expensive and I couldn’t have them. So I think stuff has got better because with initiatives like Girls Rock London and First Timers Fest where people are trying to eliminate the monetary barriers so you can actually have a go with an instrument, which is great.

Also, speaking as a queer person as well, there’s a lot more queer people in music which is really, really cool because I had zero role models when I was a kid. So over the last five years or so, there’s just been more and more queer representation. We’ve always got to keep pushing so that things keep moving forward and don’t go backwards, but I think it is on the way to being better.

You’ve listed some great organisations that we’re big fans of here at Get In Her Ears. I think if Girls Rock London and First Timers Fest had been around when I was a girl, I might have started to learn an instrument…

Ishani: We run adult camps too, so you can always come along to those!

Delphine: Come along it’ll be so much fun!

Maybe I will?! I really like the idea of being in a non-judgmental environment where people don’t care if you don’t know what a chord is and you’re allowed to just take your time and enjoy playing an instrument…

Ishani: That’s so true, actually. People can be so elitist about it and make you feel so shut out. Everyone starts somewhere, just because someone happened to start learning music when they were five doesn’t make someone else’s efforts to start a bit later in life any less valid. Music is such a joy. Everyone should be able to have the opportunity and access to it and it really sucks that people still don’t.

After forming at First Timers Fest in 2019, you released your debut EP, What did you expect? I got it off the internet. What are you most proud of about this record?

Ripley: I think at the time, it was just getting something out.

Ishani: Releasing that EP was actually incredibly stressful for all of us because we put an unrealistic time constraint on ourselves. We wouldn’t do it again like that, I’m quite proud of the fact that we did, but we never want to do it like that again. We recorded six songs live and the entire thing was pulled together in a month and then we released it two months later.

Delphine: I’m glad that we survived that, because that was a lot. But have we really learned that lesson of not doing too much at once?

Ripley: Partly? Thanks to lockdown, we’re in the mixing and mastering stage of our new album now. The album has taken over a year to record due to various lockdowns interrupting us, so partly due to world events, we have taken a much longer time on this record…

Delphine: Err…we recorded 10 songs in one week? So…

Ishani: Ripley has definitely taken me aside and said that we have been waiting for this album for literally years at this point. We don’t need to rush the output and we may as well do it right. I really forget that you don’t have to output consistently. So it’s really good to have people reminding me of that.

Ripley: Burnout is real in so many aspects of life. So many people I know are having trouble with it in regular work and for projects outside of work. I’ve burned out several times before. Trying to pace yourself and learn how to look after yourself is harder to do in the digital age where everyone’s expected to output on every front all the time. Getting that balance right is quite tricky.

Delphine: We just have to remind ourselves that we’re doing this for fun. That’s the main thing. This doesn’t pay our bills, it helps when we have gigs and stuff because then the band can sustain itself a bit by not having to worry too much about paying for rehearsal spaces and things, but it’s not something that pays for our day-to-day things.

Ripley: I’ve been in a previous project before where it was very much “the band is the main thing, screw your work” and it was a really unhealthy atmosphere, so unsurprisingly I left. We had an agreement upfront when we started Breakup Haircut that we were all going to try our best, but if any of this is impacting people’s work and their income, then as depressing as it is sometimes, people’s day jobs do have to come first. Although this is way more fun than a day job, you’ve got to be able to pay your rent and feed yourself. So we’re trying to make sure that we take care of ourselves. I’ve said to my mates that my day job makes it so I can pay the rent and then the keeps me sane.

It sounds like you’re all on the same page about the work/life music balance, so that in itself is encouraging to hear.

Finally, do you have any bands or artists who you’ve been listening to at the moment that you’d like to give a shout out to?

Ripley: I’ve been really enjoying Penelope Scott recently. She plays kind of lo-fi electronics with funky sounds and she does a song called ‘Rat’ which is a kind of “screw you” to tech billionaires like Elon Musk. It’s got really good lyrics and some nice sort of science-y burns. I like it. Also shout out to pinkshift, I’ve really got into pink shift recently as well.

Delphine: Since Loud Women Festival in September, I’ve been listening a lot of ARXX and Lilith Ai, because she’s just so beautiful.

Ishani: I’ve been listening to a friend of mine Kapil Seshasayee, he is part of the South Asian scene and it’s interesting to hear someone making music that’s very different from the output of that scene and he makes a lot of like interesting political points as well. So I’m really enjoying that right now.

Thanks to Breakup Haircut for the chat!

Follow Breakup Haircut on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Watch their performance at EartH via WOW’s IGTV and YouTube channels

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Get In Her Ears Live @ The Finsbury w/ ĠENN, 11.10.19

Following a host of amazing bands playing for us lately, including Chorusgirl, Witching Waves, CLT DRP, Crumbs and Mammoth Penguins, we were back at The Finsbury on Friday with another dream of a line-up, for a jam-packed night of the best new music.

Kicking things off to a joyous start are Breakup Haircut. Treating us to songs about everything from wanting to be a “greaser”, to not feeling cool enough to move to Berlin, their set’s filled with an uplifting buoyant energy and infectious punk fuzz.

Next up, Bitch Hunt deliver their poignant offerings with stirring emotion. Covering themes of being non-binary, experiencing domestic abuse and general feelings of grief and being an outsider, they bring an impassioned energy and gritty power to an immense set.

Penultimate band of the night, The Weird Things, bring their racing energy propelled by the soaring vocals of front woman Leila, creating a set filled with rough ‘n’ ready rock ‘n’ roll anthems.

Having played for us twice before (under their former moniker Cryptic Street), it’s an honour to now have ĠENN headline for us. With their wonderfully eccentric charisma and immense, empowering spirit, they deliver impressive riffs and racing beats, enrapturing the crowd with their buoyant spirit, as vocalist Leona bounds across the stage in a whirlwind of joyous energy. Once again proving that they’re a force to be reckoned with, ĠENN deliver a memorable set that does not disappoint.

Massive thanks to all four bands who played for us on Friday! We’ll be back at The Finsbury on 8th November with a super exciting Secret Headliner, plus Cozy Slippers (all the way from Seattle!), Gold Baby and Macadamia Sluts. Not to be missed!

 

Words: Mari Lane / @marimindles
Photos: Jon Mo / @jonmophoto

PLAYLIST: September 2019

Festival season is over, but new-album-release-season has only just begun! We’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of new music we’ve heard in the first few weeks of September, so we’ve selected a fraction of the finest tracks for you to delve in to. Take some time to scroll through our track choices and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist link at the bottom of the page…

The Big Moon – ‘Your Light’
With its catchy chorus, buoyant melodies and feel-good lyrics; ‘Your Light’ is the perfect boost for anyone who’s feeling blue about the current state of affairs. The band performed their synchronized cycling in the accompanying music video in the Essex countryside, and they look at ease singing along to their brand new tune. Their new album Walking Like We Do, is set for release on 10th January 2020 via Fiction Records. (Kate Crudgington)

She Drew The Gun – ‘Trouble Every Day’
Having blown our minds earlier this year at Cro Cro Land, The Wirral’s She Drew The Gun have now shared a new re-interpretation of Frank Zappa’s ‘Trouble Every Day’. Propelled by a raw emotion and impassioned grit,  Louisa Roach’s smooth, distinctive vocals blast out the all-too-poignant, poetic lyricism. With a seething energy and politically-driven tension that builds with each note, it’s a sincere, empowering anthem for our troubled times. (Mari Lane)

Ski Lift – ‘Comfortable Here’
The debut single from London’s Ski Lift, ‘Comfortable Here’ offers an angst-driven diatribe railing against the perceived mundanity of adulthood, while simultaneously surrendering to it. With the distinctive, crystalline emotion of Benji Tranter’s vocals alongside the twinkling harmonies of Anna Vincent (Heavy Heart), it’s an utterly infectious alt-pop anthem for our times. (ML)

SASSY 009 – ‘Thrasher’
“​My music has never been a reflection on happiness​” explains SASSY 009, but her sound is far from melancholy. On ‘Thrasher’ she combines enchanting vocals, jagged synth textures and dense beats to create a transient, anti-party anthem. (KC)

Ella – ‘Esmé’
I am sooo into this track! Fusing modern electro and historic jazz into a dream soundscape, Ella is absolutely killing it. There is also an acoustic video version of this track which is definitely worth checking out. (Tash Walker)

Joviale – ‘Struggle Cuddle’
The wonderful Joviale released her debut EP Crisis via Blue Flowers earlier this month, and like all of the tracks that feature on it, ‘Struggle Cuddle’ is wonderfully sweet and poignant. Her headline show has been re-arranged for Folklore in Bethnal Green on the 12th December, with support from Laura Groves and Fauci. Grab your tickets here. (KC)

Keren Ilan – ‘Take Her Down’
I cannot and will not stop talking about Keren Ilan who is one of my favourite artists at the moment. Her EP This Morning, Yesterday dropped a month or so ago and I just love it, already a big fan of the title track, for this month’s playlist I’m choosing ‘Take Her Down’ also from the EP but almost the inverse of This Morning, Yesterday but just as good. (TW)

Jorja Chalmers – ‘Human Again’
Australian multi-instrumentalist Jorja Chalmers has played with Bryan Ferry for the past decade, and now she’s sharing her solo LP Human Again on 20th September via Italians Do It Better. The eponymous single is an intoxicating affair, with Chalmers’ charming vocals floating above cinematic synth textures. Bliss. (KC)

Chelsea Wolfe – ‘Deranged For Rock & Roll’
Chelsea Wolfe released her new album Birth Of Violence earlier this month, and I spent an entire evening fan-girling over its haunting beauty (read my review here). It features this track ‘Deranged For Rock & Roll’, which smolders with moody confidence. “These songs came to me in a whirlwind” explains Wolfe about her new music, and what a turbulent, devastating whirlwind it must have been. It’s a privilege to be able to weather the storm with her. (KC)

Nova Twins – ‘Vortex’
Amy & Georgia have unleashed this belting new single ahead of their sold out show tonight (18th September) at Sebright Arms. Full of their trademark thunderous, distorted bass lines and in-your-face lyrics, ‘Vortex’ will be the live highlight of their set. (KC)

Breakup Haircut – ‘Why Can’t I Be Cool Enough To Move To Berlin?’
Taken from their brand new EP What Did You Expect, I Got It Off The Internet?, Breakup Haircut’s ‘Why Can’t I Be Cool Enough To Move To Berlin?’ showcases perfectly what this band are all about. Having formed just a few months ago at First Timers Fest, they deliver joyous lo-fi punk with witty lyrics that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Catch them live for us at The Finsbury on 11th October(ML) 

Chartreuse – ‘Three Days’
Chartreuse a four-piece band from the Black Country and this track, ‘Three Days’ was my Track of the Show on Hoxton Radio a couple of weeks back. What a great start with this debut loose-limbed, country kissed soul music. Just lovely. They’ll be playing at EartH in London on 30th October, get down there. (TW)

Mexican Radio – ‘Night Of The Nihilist’
With their third album due out later this month, Berlin-based Mexican Radio pride themselves on their visceral energy and quirky unique, ‘uniformed’ style. Complete with pumping beats and glitchy electro hooks, latest single ‘Night Of The Nihilist’ is an intense, energy-fuelled synth-punk anthem with shades of the likes of LCD Soundsystem. (ML)

GHOST CAR  – ‘Awkward’
‘Awkward’ by Ghost Car is such a strong slice of garage rock, from right here in East London, made up of Clara, Laura, Maria and Maeve. It is their latest single and they tell us to expect a whole load more of that bubblegum badassery from their upcoming album! (TW)

Rapsody – ‘Ibtihaj’
My current obsession. North Carolina artist Rapsody recently released her album Eve, a poignant collection with each song dedicated to a different influential black women. Featuring Wu Tang’s GZA, ‘Ibtihaj’ is probably my favourite track from the album and is named after Ibtihaj Muhammad, a fencer who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics, and was the first American Olympian ever to compete while wearing a hijab. I just love this song’s immersive groove and all it represents! (ML) 

EP: Breakup Haircut – ‘What Did You Expect? I Got It Off The Internet!’

You know when you fall for a band without even hearing a bit of music? Breakup Haircut had me at the press release. Formed just three months ago for First Timers fest – a festival where every band plays their debut show, they’re now releasing their first EP.

What Did You Expect? I Got It Off The Internet! is joyously lo-fi pop punk with, in the band’s words, “boppin’ bass” and witty lyrics that’ll put a big smile on your face. With songs like ‘I Wish I Was Cool Enough To Move To Berlin’ and ‘I (Don’t) Wanna Do Things’, it’s funny, relatable and, refreshingly, shows that the band don’t take themselves too seriously.

With this EP, Breakup Haircut sound like they are having the best time making music together, and their enthusiasm and sense of fun is infectious. You won’t be able to resist it.

What Did You Expect? I Got It Off The Internet! is out via Hell Hath No Fury Records on 27th September. Catch them live for yours truly at The Finsbury on 11th October – we can’t wait!

Vic Conway

Photo Credit: @thsheridans