FIVE FAVOURITES: Bryony Williams

Wolverhampton based artist Bryony Williams has been busy building self-confidence and exploring new territories on her upcoming EP, State I’m In. Set for release via Beth Shalom Records on 18th September, the songwriter has crafted a collection of her boldest sounds to date, and latest single ‘I Can Be’ is a shining example of this.

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 Bryony to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired her new EP. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to her single ‘I Can Be’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Julia Jacklin – ‘Pressure to Party’
After seeing Julia perform live at the Castle & Falcon in Birmingham last year or so, she absolutely floored me. I was only aware of this single of hers, yet I was so transfixed with her presence. Julia was herself, she didn’t feel the need to excite the crowd through body movement or any stage tactics. Her songs were simply enough. That was a pivotal point for me when reflecting on how I approach my own music. ‘Pressure to Party’ will always be a reminder of that, and when you trace back the lyrics through the dry production, she’s telling you a story that we all know too well. But we don’t mind being told again, because she tells it so forgivingly.

2. Jen Cloher – ‘Forgot Myself’
To choose one song from Jen’s self-titled album is hard, but this particular track just goes that extra little bit further for me. It’s self-deprecating and whiney, yet so poetic and raw. It’s a direct reflection of how she was feeling towards herself at the time and she’s brutally honest about that, yet the guitars almost give Jen an opportunity to show her inner-strength and that this negative spout she’s going through is only temporary. It shows guts and I like that. I actually interviewed Jen a couple years ago for the Grrrl Groannn publication when she was touring this album, and let me tell you, it has been my favourite interview since. We spoke all things music for a good hour while drinking Guinness (okay, it was only me drinking Guinness). But the things she said were just so honest and true, to take a quote from our interview, “When you’re younger you do worry about what people think. It’s just human. But as you evolve as a person you care less and less and with this album, I’m not worried about what people will think.” And so with this record of mine coming out, that’s exactly the energy that I have adopted.

3. Chastity Belt – ‘Different Now’
This SONG. It humbles me. My personal memory of this song was when I was being driven to the New Orleans airport in a beach buggy?? After just being broken up with half way across the world, and this song came on as we were all wistfully and awkwardly watching the Louisianan landscape pass us by in our final moments together. That was a hard time. But this song to me represents change, and yeah that can suck, but you have to make light of whatever you’ve got and grow from that. Just like Chastity Belt say: “You’re hard on yourself / Well you can’t always be right / All those little things that keep you up at night / You should take some time to figure out your life”.

4. Clairo – ‘Bags’
Taking it down a little for a moment now… The storytelling here just blows me away. On a surface level it can seem quite easy, yet with every line there is meaning behind it whether that’s hidden or not. You can tell it comes from a place of deep emotion and that really grabs you. I always find it interesting when an artist can write something so open and heart on their sleeve and have it listened to anyone and everyone, yet it could be a situation from their personal life that showcases them being the opposite of that. So these juxtapositions really compel me and I’ve not been afraid to lyrically story tell my inner-demons through song in the past, but if you unpick this track, it’s just genius. Plus my mum really digs this track too so, thanks Clairo!

5. Anna Burch – ‘Tea-Soaked Letter’
Okay, so Anna Burch is my current no.1 inspiration. All these tracks have all contributed to the making of my upcoming EP, from drum rhythms to the lyrical storytelling, but this track takes the cake! I am just so jealous that I didn’t think to write this song! The lyrics really make me think about how I want to move forward with my self-portrayal and I’m kind of sick of writing sad songs. I’m just not that person anymore. So Anna has really drawn out a different lyrical direction for me in order to express myself in perhaps more of a nonchalant way.

Thanks to Bryony for sharing her favourites with us. Follow her on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

State I’m In by Bryony Williams

PLAYLIST: Galentine’s Day 2020

Grrrls, it’s the best day of the year: GALENTINE’S DAY! Coined by Parks and Recreation character Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) back in 2010, Galentine’s has since been recognised by girls across the globe, and used as a light-hearted platform to celebrate the girls and women who enrich our lives.

We’ve selected tracks from some of our favourite female artists and put them all together in one big celebratory playlist. We’re all about self-love & sisterly support today; so scroll down, press play, and share the Galentines love.

 

Robyn – ‘Dancing On My Own’
‘Dancing On My Own’, and what’s wrong with that!? Often I prefer to dance on my own. More space. Robyn is also an outspoken ally for LGBTQ+ rights, and we all know romance isn’t just for the heterosexuals out there! So whether you honour Galentine’s, Valentine’s, or even Palentine’s Day; make sure you have a good old dance. (Tash Walker)

Le Tigre – ‘Hot Topic’
Pioneers of queer culture and ultimate faves, Le Tigre’s ‘Hot Topic’ is a celebratory ode to those who’ve inspired us. Paying homage to some queer feminist champions of the ‘90s and earlier, it’s an empowering and joy-filled protest in the face of adversity. This one’s dedicated to my GIHE gals this Galentine’s; Tash and Kate – you’re two of the most fantastic women I’ve ever met, and continue to inspire me every day! (Mari Lane)

Gold Baby – ‘What Party?’
We’re all big fans of Gold Baby here at GIHE, and I have to admit I’m a big fan of their vocalist & guitarist Sian. Not only is she a great songwriter, she’s as enthusiastic as we are about new music, and supporting other women in the industry. Keep your eyes peeled for Gold Baby’s new single ‘Japanese Racehorse’, set for release on 17th Feb. (Kate Crudgington)

ARXX – ‘Moments At A Time’
Is it even a GIHE playlist if I don’t include an ARXX track? The Brighton duo have truly taken off since Mari introduced me to them a few years ago, and us GIHE girls couldn’t be happier for them. Hannah & Clara also happen to be two of the loveliest people we’ve met in the DIY music scene. Absolute babes. (KC)

Alanis Morissette – ‘You Oughta Know’
I’m forever grateful to Alanis Morissette for showing 24-year-old me that being angry after heartbreak is totally normal. Even when I’m not in the midst of heartbreak though, this song makes me feel truly empowered. Taken from her iconic album Jagged Little Pill, which turns 25 this year, I am desperate to get my hands on a pair of tickets to Alanis’ anniversary gig at Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 4th March. I’ll be singing this at the top of my lungs. (KC)

Personal Best – ‘This Is What We Look Like’
Headliners at our last Finsbury gig, Personal Best perfectly brand themselves as “classic rock for tragic lesbians”, and their frenetic riffs and pure-pop harmonies fill me with joy every time. Closing their set for us last month, front person Katie dedicated this track to the queer community. As a sea of buoyant voices joined in with “I wanna kiss you in the street / where everyone can see /’cause this is what we look like”, the poignancy of the lyrics in these uncertain times was overwhelming, and an empowering sense of unity took hold as the crowd danced and sang in solidarity. A perfect anthem for love between anyone and everyone. (ML)

Chastity Belt – ‘Joke’
This was one of the bands I discovered at the start of GIHE, all those years ago, and it just reminds me so much of what it was like at the start of it all. All these years on here’s to my two GIHE gals Mari & Kate, and all of the jokes we’ve had along the way. (TW)

Taylor Swift – ‘Out Of The Woods’
Did anyone else cry multiple times watching Taylor Swift’s Netflix documentary Miss Americana? (Just me? Cool.) Even if you’re not a big Swift fan, I recommend watching the film. It impressively highlights how badly the media treats young women in the spotlight, and how empowering it is when they decide to take back their own narratives. (KC)

Lizzo – ‘Like A Girl’
Turning the common derogatory phrase ‘Like A Girl’ on its head to create something wonderfully empowering, this is another ferociously fun offering from GIHE fave, Lizzo. With references to other powerful women of colour, including Lauryn Hill and Serena Williams, it’s the perfect ode to the power of being female and the power felt when women unite. So, this Galentine’s Day, I’ll leave you with the Lizzo’s words of wisdom: “If you fight like a girl, cry like a girl, do your thing, run the whole damn world”. An ultimate feel-good anthem for women everywhere. (ML)

God Colony (feat. Samirah Raheem) – ‘Girls’
You might recognise Samira Raheem from her 2 minute interview at Amber Rose’s Slutwalk in 2018. This video caught the attention of UK Producers God Colony, who approached Raheem to collaborate. The result is ‘Girls’; an encouraging call-to-arms laced with defiant lyrics, and industrial-tinged beats. I never get sick of listening to this. Shout out to my fellow ‘Girls’ Mari & Tash. I’d be lost without you. (KC)

TLC – ‘Unpretty’
Having had my love of TLC revived through watching Netflix’s brilliant Hip Hop Evolution documentary lately, I feel this ‘90s classic is the perfect Galentine’s anthem. Although it’s primarily about a guy making you feel shit, the message of getting past this and looking inside yourself to see your inner beauty is a perfect sentiment for any of your loved ones. And, set to that oh-so-catchy groove, it never fails to uplift and leave me feeling ready to face the world. (ML)

Ji Nilsson & Marlene – ‘Love You Anyway’
Released back in 2014 this was the first song that jumped to mind for this Galentine’s Day playlist, as ‘Love You Anyway’ is all about female friendship. The lyrics speak of solidarity, but with a slight note of sadness, combined with the enchanting quality to the music the whole thing intertwined together is mesmerising. (TW)

Chromatics – ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’
A great cover of a great track. ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ always reminds me of a story about this 60 year old Italian woman who walked into her local fire station as she was having trouble with her lock. When the firemen asked the woman where she lived, thinking she’d locked herself out of her house, she lifted her sweater and showed them her chastity belt. (TW)

Wolf Alice – ‘White Leather’
Despite being a huge Wolf Alice fan, I only heard this track for the first time last year when my sister Holly sent it to me when I was having a tough time. She told me to listen carefully to the lyrics, because they reminded her of me. I had to bite back tears after hearing it; I felt loved, acknowledged, and genuinely hopeful. (Also, shout out to my other sister Sarah, who always holds my hand during ‘Bros’ when we see Wolf Alice live. God love ya both.) (KC)

Kate Bush – ‘This Woman’s Work’
I recently found out Kate Bush wrote this song specifically for John Hughes’ 1988 film She’s Having A Baby from the lead male character’s perspective, but I think her lyrics transcend the film’s premise. When I hear this track, I think of my Mum, and how hard she works to keep everyone in my family safe, healthy, and happy. Then I think about how mad it makes me that men and boys aren’t expected to perform the same kind of emotional labour. Then I worry that patriarchy dictates that men aren’t allowed to show emotion, so that must be a burden in itself. Basically, I spend a lot of time thinking about ‘women’s work’, and what that means to me, and this song helps relieve some of the tensions surrounding those thoughts. (Love you Mum. You too Dad x) (KC)

Bikini Kill – ‘Double Dare Ya’
This is the first Bikini Kill track I ever heard, and it still fills me with hope and defiance every time I listen to it. My cousin Rebecca (an original 90s Riot Grrrl) introduced me to the band, and along with the GIHE crew, we both went to see Bikini Kill live at Brixton Academy when they reunited last year. Words escape me when I try to sum up how much that night meant to me. Women are the fucking best. (KC)

LibraLibra – Skin And Bone 
Having recently blown me away at our December Finsbury gig, Brighton’s LibraLibra are one of my ‘Ones To Watch’ for this year. Listening to the incredible brutal power of Beth Cannon’s immense vocal delivery motivates me with each listen, the empowering force of this inspirationally strong and charismatic front woman makes me feel like we can conquer the world. But I’ve added this one to our Galentine’s list not only for LibraLibra’s mind-blowing sound, but because since they played for us, I’ve been speaking to Beth quite a lot, and feel that we’ve both been able to provide a bit of a virtual sounding board for each other when we’ve needed picking up, or just to have a good old rant about society’s inherent sexism! Just one example of the wonderful gals I’ve been lucky enough to meet putting on our Get In Her Ears events. (ML)

Chorusgirl – ‘Stuck’
You probably all know by now how much this song means to me. It will never fail to bring me cathartic comfort. Its poignant emotive power, and the way it builds alongside the shimmering hooks, gets me every time. Listening to its heartfelt sentiment, and knowing that there’s other ‘gals’ in the world feeling similar anxieties as I do, helps me feel a little less alone. Chorusgirl’s Silvi is not only a heartbreakingly magnificent songwriter, she’s a wonderful person, and I’m so grateful our paths crossed. (ML)

Kate Tempest – ‘People’s Faces’
There is so much that is so perfectly poignant in this song; the glaringly honest and completely relevant social commentary showcases Tempest’s unique poetic skill at creating relevant and hugely emotive social narratives. But a subtle glimmer of hope also shines through; the comfort we gain from those we love, and the comfort we can offer them just by being there. So, even when it feels like the world is ending, we can still find happiness in each other: “… then we smile at all our friends… Even when I’m weak and I’m breaking… I can see your faces. There is so much peace to be found in people’s faces.”
Also, as a belated Galentine’s treat, I’ll be seeing Kate Tempest live at the 6Music Festival on 8th March, as part of an incredible International Women’s Day line-up of her, Kim Gordon, Jehnny Beth and Nadine Shah at The Roundhouse. I cannot wait to catch some of the most incredible gals all in one place! (ML)

Shirley Ellis – ‘Soul Time’
I love this song, it’s just so much fun and completely infectious. Shirley Ellis often unfairly categorised as a novelty act by many music historians has a well earned place in the history of American soul. Funky, sophisticated and sassy. All the sisterly love for her! (TW)

Jackie Shane – ‘Any Other Way’
I include this song on lots of our GIHE playlists, but that’s because it makes for such a smooth, upbeat listen. Canadian soul singer Jackie Shane was not only a talented vocalist, she was also a pioneer for trans rights in the 60s. Any chance I get to play her music, I’ll happily take. (KC)

ALBUM: Chastity Belt – ‘Chastity Belt’

On this, their fourth album, Chastity Belt are in a contemplative mood. Guitars are gently, thoughtfully, strummed and lush harmonies mingle with the melody to create an album that is perfect for late summer 2019. 

After their last album in 2017, the band deliberately created some headspace for themselves. They wanted to take some time out from the band, to work and live as individuals rather than as Chastity Belt. This decision led to some solo projects, most notably singer Julia Shapiro’s recent output, but also to a more personal introspection and development. The four members of Chastity Belt have brought this new sense of perspective the album, and it shows. 

While sonically complex, the album sounds sparse and uncluttered, unhurried and pastoral, rather than urgent and urban. Opening track ‘Ann’s Jam’ reflects this with its gentle, almost meandering guitar sound, whereas the strings on ‘Effort’ weave in and out of the guitars like ribbons of sound. It’s a soothing sonic wave, a soundtrack of calm and thoughtful songwriting. It’s not as though the band have suddenly picked up acoustic guitars either, it’s just that the woven intricacies of their music balance out to such an extent that neither electric guitar nor drums dominate. 

The slowly building ‘It Takes Time’ and the beautiful ‘Half-Hearted’ with its intricate, pretty guitars and gorgeous vocal harmonies are both highlights, as are ’Effort’ and ‘Ann’s Jam’, but really, this is an album in the traditional sense: it has been made to be listened to in its entirety, over and over again, until it bleeds into your subconscious and becomes a part of you. It’s a masterpiece that will stand the test of time and will be listened to, and loved, for many years to come.

Chastity Belt is out 20th September via Hardly Art.

Cazz Blase
@CazzBlase

LISTEN: Chastity Belt – ‘Elena’

Dreamy, overlapping vocals and lush guitar sounds permeate ‘Elena’, the new single from GIHEs faves Chastity Belt. The track is taken from their fourth self-titled album which is set for release on 20th September via Hardly Art records, and Milk! records in Australia and New Zealand.

It’s a subtle, personal song inspired by the band’s love of author Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, which they all read over the course of last year. Bassist Annie Truscott explains further: “We individually related to the ways in which the main character’s sense of self is inextricably linked to her desire for love and validation, both from lovers and friends. The overlapping voices on top of the whimsical wave-like instrumentals captures the universal feeling of having a conversation with yourself about yourself.”

After taking a break from band life and pursuing their own solo endeavours, it seems that Julia Shapiro (vocals, guitar, drums), Lydia Lund (vocals, guitar), Gretchen Grimm (drums, vocals, guitar) & Annie Truscott (bass) have been refreshed by their time apart, which ironically seems to have brought them closer together. The band co-produced their new album with Melina Duterte (aka Jay Som), which sees them sharing lead vocals on different tracks, and working with different instruments such as violin (played by Annie), cello, trumpet and keyboards.

“I feel like this record is a really good representation of who we all are, and I feel like we’re at a point where we’ve really come into our own” explains Julia. New single ‘Elena’ sounds like the sweetest taste of what’s to come from a band who value time, authenticity, and celebrating long-term friendship both on and off stage.

Listen to ‘Elena’ below and follow Chastity Belt on Facebook for more updates.

Pre-order your copy of Chastity Belt’s new self-titled album here.

Chastity Belt’s 2019 UK Tour Dates (with GANG)
Oct 13 – Bristol, UK @ Thekla
Oct 15 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
Oct 16 – Manchester, UK @ YES
Oct 17 – Glasgow, UK @ Stereo
Oct 19 – Oxford, UK @ Ritual Union
Oct 20 – Cardiff, UK @ SWN Festival
Oct 21 – Brighton, UK @ Patterns
Oct 23 – Southampton, UK @ The Joiners
Oct 24 – London, UK @ Islington Assembly Hall

Photo by Beto Brakmo

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut