FIVE FAVOURITES: Ora Cogan

Ora Cogan is not easily categorised. Since releasing her 2007 debut, Tatter, the Canadian artist has continued to evolve in intriguing ways, not only as a musician but as an activist, filmmaker, photographer and writer. Her new EP, Dyed, follows 2020’s shapeshifting album, Bells in the Ruins, and finds her exploring gradations of shoegaze and experimental folk succoured through shadows and light. As well as the high and airy title track, described as “a cryptic rumination on awkward love,” there’s a cloudy, ephemerally anxious mood piece (‘Diver’) and a tantalising cover of PJ Harvey’s ‘To Bring You My Love’, completely reimagined within Ora’s rapt soundworld.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. To celebrate the release of Dyed, we caught up with Ora to ask about the music that has inspired her the most. See below for their choices of her five favourite albums, and be sure to catch her on tour with Aoife Nessa Frances in November. Full list of headline and support dates here.

 

1. Buffy Sainte-Marie – Coincidence and Likely Stories
One of my favourite memories of this record is from when I was a kid. My mum and I had picked up my godmother on the side of a highway for a roadtrip. I think my godmum had just finished doing some kind of farm work, but I’m not sure. She’d click her rings on the dashboard, singing along to every song on this record at the top of her lungs as we drove through the desert. Buffy Sainte-Marie is a legend, she’s one of the greatest songwriters alive and has many mind-blowing albums of course, but Coincidence and Likely Stories was the first record of hers I heard that I fell in love with. I keep going back to these songs. Her work continues to inspire me to write honestly, to try to use songwriting as a way of finding understanding in life, in politics, in love. She inspires me to write songs that speak truth to power.

2. Fiver – Audible Songs from Rockwood
Audible Songs from Rockwood is a monumental piece of work. This record is comprised of songs Fiver (Simone Schmidt) wrote after of years of research on inmates incarcerated in the Rockwood Asylum for “the criminally insane” in Kingston, Ontario, between 1856 and 1881. The songs speak of these women’s lives and dig into matters of the heart, the justice system, colonialism, ableism. This record is more than a record, with 30 pages of liner notes featuring illustrations, history, and context for the songs. I first heard Fiver when I opened for them at one of the stops on their tour in support of this album, and they had the whole audience spellbound. I look up to them as an artist so much, and this project was such generous work.

3. Marika Papagika – The Further the Flame, The Worse It Burns Me
Marika Papagika moved to New York City from Greece and became a prolific recording artist there. She eventually opened a club with her husband in the ‘20s and had a successful music career, but that ended abruptly with the Wall Street Crash of 1929. I fell in love with Marika Papagika after Eric Isaacson at Mississippi Records introduced me to her work. Rumbetiko feels vital and familiar as I grew up listening to Jewish folk music that can sometimes have similar vocal lines. Marika’s voice felt relatable, and this record will always hold so much magic for me. Marika inspires me endlessly to be a better singer.

4. Nina Simone – Sings the Blues
The opening track, ‘Do I Move You’, kills me every time. You can hear people yelling in the recording, they were feeling it so much. I first heard this album when my friend Jeremy from Shearing Pinx was DJing a bush party a few hours north of Nanaimo. The song was echoing across a lake, and I swear I could feel the whole natural world saying, ‘Yes, Nina Simone, you move us, you move everything. The whole universe bends towards you.’ I might have been high, but it’s still the truth. She was truly the best.

5. White Magic – Through the Sun Door
White Magic (Mira Billotte) has been one of my favorite musicians forever. I first heard her when she was a part of the Washington D.C. group Quix*o*tic; their song ‘The Breeze’ stopped me dead in my tracks. My friends and I used to stay up all night crafting or painting with Through the Sun Door on repeat. For us, I think, this album was our touchstone, like a secret passageway to an alternate reality. Some music opens up entire worlds, and for me this was a teleportation device. This record is intimate but spacious. Some of it feels like tavern music, punk, psychedelic folk and experimental music at the same time. I love the unique arrangements. I don’t know any other music that breathes like this does.

Thanks to Ora Cogan for sharing her Five Favourites with us!

Watch her video for ‘Diver’ below.

Dyed, the new EP from Ora Cogan, is out now via her own label Prism Tongue Records.

Photo Credit: Journey Meyerhoff

Alan Pedder
@alanthology

WATCH: Softcult – ‘Spit It Out’

A lush, swirling guitar tune that gently encourages listeners to face their unconscious bias, Canadian duo Softcult have shared their latest single ‘Spit It Out’. Since the release of their debut EP Year Of The Rat earlier this year, the pair have been busy working on new material, with this new offering building on their existing manifesto to resist and relieve the pressures that come with existing in a patriarchal world.

Formed of Ontario-based twins 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 industry formed the foundation for their current sound, which is born from the desire to reject toxic standards of femininity and embrace a more equal world.

‘Spit It Out’ embodies this outlook, as the band explain in more detail: “The song is about rejecting harmful ideologies that we’ve come to accept as normal, even though they perpetuate our own oppression. Most people understand that misogyny, sexism, racism, etc are wrong, but don’t often notice when it occurs in our every day lives, in the media, or how we’ve been conditioned to perceive the world. We can even unknowingly become part of the problem because we’ve internalized these ways of thinking. We wrote the song about resisting societal standards which only serve to benefit those that hold power over others. By simply refusing to accept these ideologies, we can weaken the pillars in our society that allow oppression and injustice. It all starts with questioning them in the first place, and then deciding that we aren’t going to continue to contribute to them.”

Watch the video for ‘Spit It Out’ below.

Follow Softcult on SpotifyInstagramFacebook & Twitter for more updates

Photo credit: Judith Priest

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

EP: Softcult – ‘Year Of The Rat’

A culmination of their thoughts on and experiences of sexism, misogyny and objectification, twin sisters Phoenix and Mercedes Arn Horn aka Softcult have crafted a bittersweet collection of lush, grunge-infused songs on their debut EP, Year Of The Rat. Pushing through pain and reflecting on their hard earned emotional resilience, the Canadian duo have written an ultra-cool manifesto of resistance designed to help relieve the pressures that come with existing in a patriarchal world.

Informed by their love of 90s guitar bands like Bikini Kill and My Bloody Valentine, as well as the bubble-gum grunge of Beabadoobee and Soccer Mommy, Softcult blend atmospheric guitars, energetic percussion and hazy vocals to create their softly antagonistic sounds. Working from their home studio for most of 2020, Phoenix and Mercedes were able to take stock of what they really wanted to achieve under their new moniker and Year Of The Rat is a mature offering that highlights the duo’s instincts for creating heady soundscapes that soothe the sting of a painful past.

“It might seem like we’re just super angry but it comes from a place of wanting to make positive change, which always starts with a conversation,” explains guitarist & vocalist Mercedes. This anger and empathy manifests itself in different ways throughout the EP, which kicks off with the melodic ‘Another Bish’. The duo find catharsis amidst their swirling riffs and frantic beats, arriving at the humbling realisation that even though you can’t always change someone else’s perception of you, you can refuse to be “tamed” by their reductive views.

The melancholic ‘Gloomy Girl’ provides listeners with a glimpse behind the veil of depression. It’s a tentative musing on the ominous feeling that you’re “wasting away” whilst going through a period of poor mental health. ‘Take It Off’ aches with a subdued anger that’s directed at catcallers, but it also doubles up as a care-free dismissal of ridiculous trophy wife standards. The pair continue to shrug off the emotional labour that’s routinely pushed onto women’s shoulder on the shimmering, restless ‘Young Forever’, before closing the EP with the cutting, yet tender sounds of ‘Bird Song’.

Fuelled by their desire to instigate change in their own circles and further afield, the Softcult blend observational lyrics, smooth vocals and atmospheric riffs together on Year Of The Rat to punctuate their personal statement against injustice and provide listeners with a brooding, polished, unexpectedly light listen.

 

Follow Softcult on SpotifyInstagramFacebook & Twitter for more updates

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Errunhrd – ‘Rain (Sun Is Gone)’

An evocative electronic soundscape that deals with emotional burnout, Niagara Falls based multi-instrumentalist and producer Errunhrd has shared her latest single ‘Rain (Sun Is Gone)’. Laced with melancholy vocals, cinematic synths and sparse, clicking percussion, the track embraces a difficult topic but is underscored by Errunhrd’s hope that things will eventually improve.

“‘Rain (Sun is Gone)’ is about being emotionally overwhelmed during the pandemic while my grandma got diagnosed with colon cancer and is still going through treatment,” Errunhrd aka Shirin Ghoujalou explains. “It’s also my way of letting everyone out there struggling right now know that I hope we’ll be okay and get through this, while keeping the anger and frustration of the situation in there.”

Influenced by the likes of New Order, Grimes, Daughter and London Grammar, Errunhrd creates music that has “some kind of melancholy hope” and writes lyrics directly from her life experiences. ‘Rain (Sun Is Gone)’ epitomises her creative outlook, diving deep into her vulnerabilities and fears about her own well-being, as well as extending an olive branch to her Grandmother and to her listeners who are struggling to tread water in these testing times.

Watch the video for ‘Rain (Sun Is Gone)’ below.

 

Follow Errunhrd on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut