GIHE: Personal Highlights Of 2021

2021 has been another strange year. Live music tentatively returned after multiple Covid-19 lockdowns, which meant the GIHE team were finally able to see some of our favourite bands in the flesh. The easing of restrictions also meant we were able to physically get into a studio to record our monthly Soho Radio show together! More than ever, we were grateful to feel connected – either through the internet or in real life – to our friends and followers, and that’s what our Personal Highlights of 2021 reflect.

Read below for a recap of some of our Personal Highlights of the year. Huge thanks to everyone who has supported GIHE. Love & solidarity. x

 

Team Highlight: Moving to Soho Radio

After six years of presenting our new music show on Hoxton Radio, the GIHE team were invited to move over to Soho Radio’s airwaves. They say a change is as good as a rest, and this change certainly helped to re-energise us to get back into doing what we love: fan-girling on air about our favourite music and talking to the bands and artists who create it. Noga Erez helped us launch our debut show in May, and since then we’ve spoken to BISHI, Bitch Hunt, Fears, BLAB, Maria Uzor, Grandmas House & The Log Books’ Shivani Dave. It’s a privilege to have this platform on Soho to promote women & non-binary artists, and we’re excited to bring you more radio shows with them problem pain 2022!

 

Mari Lane (Co-Founder & Managing Editor)

Interviewing Sleigh Bells

With the release of their sixth album Texis this year, genre-defying duo Sleigh Bells have been firm favourites of mine over the last decade, and have provided many personal musical memories. From dancing the night away to the immense energy of the likes of ‘Rill Rill’ or ‘Infinity Guitars’ throughout my 20s, to watching that scene of Jessica Jones on repeat, purely because of the incredible power that ‘Demons’ adds to the narrative. It was such an honour to speak to vocalist and songwriter Alexis Krauss in September about the album, her collaborative process with producer/guitarist Derek Miller, the formation of Sleigh Bells, being a woman in the industry, and her involvement with Young Women Who Crush – an amazing sounding organisation for young women and gender expansive youth from New York City public schools, inspiring them to discover the outdoors and develop their leadership skills. You can read the full interview here.

GIHE Live at The Shacklewell Arms with Problem Patterns, pink suits & GUTTS

Hosting our first gig at The Shacklewell Arms was such a joyous experience in every way. Not only was it an honour to be able to organise an event at such an esteemed venue at which I’ve spent many a night enjoying some of the best live music at, but everyone who works there was so lovely and helpful, that it made the whole experience completely stress-free. Massive shout-out to sound engineer Sofia, a total pro who is amazing at what she does!

And of course, what made the night particularly special was the bands. With GIHE having been mega fans of Northern Irish punks Problem Patterns for some time now, it was such a privilege to be able to host their first London gig. With each poignant, raging offering, the band filled the venue with their swirling, empowering energy and fierce, infectious passion, uniting the crowd with both their righteous anger and vibrant, joyous sense of fun. With the captivating, riotous force of queer Margate duo pink suits, and the angst-driven ‘sax punk’ of opening band GUTTS too, it really was a dream of a night and I’m so grateful it was able to go ahead. You can check out pics of the event here.

Talking to The Independent about Women’s Safety at Gigs & Festivals

Kate and I spoke to Elizabeth Aubrey for a feature in The Independent about the need to make music events safer spaces for women, girls and the LGBTQ+ community. A topic we feel extremely strongly about. We discussed our zero tolerance policy to sexual assault and harassment at our events, and measures we put in place at our gigs to try and ensure the safest possible environment for all. It was also the first time I’ve really properly talked about the experience of having my drink spiked whilst at university in Leeds – the issue of women and girls being spiked sadly being something that seems particularly prevalent at the moment.

I was really grateful to be given the opportunity to speak to Elizabeth about such an important issue and hope that, with an increased awareness in the public eye, more ‘active bystanders’ and with more women, girls and LGBTQIA+ folk feeling safe enough to speak out, more can start being done by the industry as a whole to put a stop to instances of abuse or harassment, and to provide the safest possible spaces. You can read the full feature here.

Interviewing Celeste Bell (Poly Styrene’s daughter)

With the release of the documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché this year, we were lucky enough to talk to Celeste Bell – Poly’s daughter and co-director of the film, along with Paul Sng – about the inspirations behind the film, her relationship with her mother and the sexism that still prevails in the music industry. Based around a wonderful book by Zoë Howe, Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story, the film chronicles Poly’s remarkable and often troubled life, including never-seen-before footage of her, telling her moving story predominantly through the eyes of her daughter.

In addition to discussing the film, it was interesting to speak to Celeste about how far the industry and society’s attitudes towards women still have to go, and the urgent need to revive some of Poly’s punk spirit. To unite, overcome adversity and bring about change, we could all do with being a bit more like her, to start to undo the bondage that binds us into this patriarchal society. As Poly says: “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!”. Read the full interview with Celeste here.

Honourable Mention: Ezra Furman

I thought I’d also give an honourable mention to Ezra Furman, who came out as a Transgender woman earlier this year and shared beautiful images of herself with her child. As Furman poignantly states in her coming out message: “I’m telling you I’m a mom now for a specific reason. Because one problem with being trans is that we have so few visions of what it can look like to have an adult life, to grow up and be happy and not die young. When our baby was born I had approximately zero examples that I had seen of trans women raising children. So here’s one for anyone who wants to see one. I’m a trans woman and a mom. This is possible.”

 

Kate Crudgington (Co-Founder & Features Editor)

Chatting to Cool Thing Records on Soho Radio about GIHE

I’ve been following Southend indie label Cool Thing Records since my Gigslutz days, so when Luke invited me on to their Soho Radio show (Cool Thing Presents) to chat about my experience as a DIY music journalist, I was genuinely chuffed. I loved reminiscing with him about landmark musical moments in my life and how we came to launch GIHE. I also managed to wedge in an impersonation of Eastenders’ Nick Cotton into our chat, which you can listen to in full here.

The Cool Thing team have supported GIHE in everything we do, and we naturally support them back. Their roster is bursting with talent – from BLAB, Mai and Beckie Margaret, to Asylums, Suspects, BAIT and The Horse Heads – I’m constantly impressed and excited to hear their new releases. There’s an immense amount of passion, commitment and empathy behind everything they do, and I look forward to working with them throughout 2022.

My first gig after Covid-19 & our first GIHE gig of 2021

When I walked in to Electrowerkz to see DROWND – aka my brother Joe – play his first gig of 2021 in August, I was tanked up on Gin & Tonic because I was nervous to be doing something “normal” for the first time in over a year. Despite my anxieties, within minutes of the gig starting, my mind blocked out any Covid-19 paraphernalia; it just let the intense, heavy sounds blasting out of the speakers spread through my cells. It was fucking brilliant. I didn’t want the night to end.

I had a similar sensation watching Schande and CURRLS perform at our first GIHE gig of 2021 at The Victoria a few months later in November. I watched from a distance as Mari worked the room, ensuring the bands and everyone who was attending felt safe and valued. 2022 is looking like another dodgy year for live music, but I hope we’ll get to attend and organise more gigs like this at some point soon.

Talking to NME about Women’s Safety at Gigs

With the return of live music, unfortunately, came the return of the all-to-familiar reports of sexual harassment and assault at gigs and festivals. It’s something we have experienced first hand at GIHE, and we know many of our friends and followers have also lived through these grim and debilitating experiences. That’s why we feel it’s important to push forward with our own policies at events to keep women & non-binary people safe, and to keep the conversations about women’s safety in the public eye.

Mari & I spoke to NME journalist Charlotte Krol about this and how we think things can be improved earlier this year. You can read the full feature here.

Favourite Interviews of 2021

One of the main things that’s kept me going this year are the conversations I’ve had with bands and artists about the music they make. It’s such a privilege to have access to someone’s creative processes, and I am humbled every time an artist shares their own thoughts and influences with me. I also love it when bands consistently crack jokes about how bored they are of hearing their own music, like Cork art-punks Pretty Happy did when I spoke to them back in September.

My conversations with Circe, Nadia Javed, Breakup Haircut, Sian O’Gorman (NYX Choir), Lilith AI, Softcult, Nova TwinsBleach Lab and Divide & Dissolve all left a lasting impression on me in 2021.

 

Victoria Conway (GIHE Contributor)

Helen Love @ Sheffield Pop Weekender Sidney and Matilda (first gig after lockdown)

I’m not sure if this was my first gig after lockdown, but, woah, it was the most memorable. After over 18 months without live music, Helen Love took me back, headfirst and in glorious technicolour. They fired up the drum machine and powered through a set of glitter-fuelled bubblegum punk pop with swagger and smiles. The legendary Ms. Love, still looking badass after fronting the band for almost 30 years, stood in front of a dizzying video collage and blasted out the hits to a crowd who roared their appreciation by shouting along to every word. ‘Does your heart go booooom?’ was a standout; it was the musical equivalent of someone shaking up a can of Monster Energy and letting it spray absolutely everywhere. I’m talking pure, giddy caffeinated joy! It was beautiful to reunite with a band I’ve loved for over half my life, and to do it on a dancefloor packed with much-missed gig buddies.

Thanks for everything folks. We’ll see you in 2022!

 

PLAYLIST: November 2021

The GIHE team have unearthed more new music gems for you to listen to on our November Playlist! There’s an eclectic mix of indie anthems, gritty guitar tunes, alt-pop tracks & immersive electronic sounds. Take some time to scroll through our track choices below and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of this post.

Follow GIHE on Spotify to hear all of our previous playlists too.

 

Problem Patterns – ‘Terfs Out’
Headliners of our gig at The Shacklewell Arms this Friday 3rd December, Northern Irish punks Problem Patterns are total faves with the GIHE, and the immense ‘Terfs Out’ is a sentiment we fully endorse. As the song says, “LGB is nothing if not for the T / So show up with some real solidarity.” I cannot wait to host the band’s first ever London gig and witness their impassioned, frenzied energy live, along with support from pink suits and GUTTS. Get your tickets on DICE now. (Mari Lane)

Agender – ‘No Nostalgia’
The latest release from LA post-punk band Agender. This is the title track from their upcoming album which is set for release in February next year, and it has just the right serving of dysmorphic desire to get your heart beating faster. Enjoy. (Tash Walker)

Momma – ‘Medicine’
A melodic reflection on the intoxicating power of new romance, this single from New York City four-piece Momma is so, so good! Released via Polyvinyl Record Co. & Lucky Number, the track is an aural headrush centered around the passionate emotions that come with an all-consuming crush, full of hazy vocals and infectious guitar riffs. (Kate Crudgington)

VERO – ‘Beg!’
A seething guitar anthem fueled by the anger that’s left behind by a flawed relationship, ‘Beg!’ is the debut single from Stockholm-based trio VERO. Released via PNKSLM and one half of an upcoming 7″ single that’s set for release on 14th January, the track is saturated with brooding bass lines, swirling riffs and stinging vocals. I LOVE it and can’t wait to hear more from the trio next year. (KC)

The Golden Age of TV – ‘What I’ve Been Through’
Leeds art-rockers The Golden Age of TV have shared this loud and vitally important track which, as vocalist Bea Fletcher explains, is “a statement, of sorts, from the perspective of someone who’s experienced sexual violence.” Permeated by raging riffs and Fletcher’s powerful vocals, the track simply asks “for nothing more than to be heard and believed.” (KC)

Sister Ghost – ‘Buried Alive’ 
Derry based duo Shannon Delores O’Neill and Maeve Mulholland – aka Sister Ghost – have just released their brilliantly titled new EP Stay Spooky. Taken from the EP, latest single ‘Buried Alive’ oozes their distinctive swirling, gritty power as soaring impassioned vocals and catchy hooks rage with a seething energy. A perfect slice of sparkling rock ‘n’ roll, exuding a much-needed empowering raucous spirit. Read our recent interview with Shannon here. (ML)

Proper. – ‘Red, White & Blue’
I’m new to Brooklyn punks Proper. but I’m a big fan of this track, which is the first taste of the sound of the band’s upcoming album set for release in 2022. Vocalist & guitarist Erik Garlington explains the context of ‘Red, White, & Blue’ further: “A lot of millennials in my life share the sentiment that being American feels like being in an abusive relationship that you can’t find the courage to leave. I knew I wanted to focus on looking at what makes this country what it is, and how hopeless I feel to stop it.” (KC)

Dutch Mustard – ‘What The People Want’
“‘What The People Want’ is about playing the system, a realisation that you can do anything, give the people what they want, and still stay truthful” explains Dutch Mustard, aka Sarah-Jayne Riedel, about her latest single. Full of lush vocals and rolling rhythms, the track is an infectious slice of alt-rock, lifted from her upcoming EP which is set for release early next year. (KC)

JASMYN – ‘Find The Light’
JASMYN – aka Jasmyn Burke former frontwoman of Weaves – has signed to ANTI- and embarked on her new solo project and released this brilliant single. “This song was loosely written during the Fall of 2020,” she explains. “The world was feeling pretty heavy, and I felt myself wanting to write music that created a mood of happiness and space to grow. It feels like we’re living in this sort of in-between space, where life is altering. I wanted to explore finding comfort and hopefulness through uncomfortable change.” JASMYN achieves this via her relatable lyrics, distinctive riffs and charged beats. (KC)

LibraLibra – ‘Candy Mountain’ (ML)
The latest single from total heroes LibraLibra, ‘Candy Mountain’ showcases their knack for creating immense, swirling soundscapes, propelled by the magnificent, angst-driven power and gritty splendour of front woman Beth Cannon’s impassioned vocals. Another wonderfully genre-defying cacophony from the band. Kate and I were lucky enough to catch LibraLibra live at their single launch the other week – they really are one of the most exciting bands to see; fizzing with a captivating charisma and riotous energy. (ML)

The Klittens – ‘Canned Air’
The first single to be taken from Amsterdam’s The Klittens’ debut EP, ‘Canned Air‘ captures the band’s self-described air of “happy songs and sad sentiments” perfectly. Propelled by shimmering hooks and a raw, scuzzy energy, it builds with a fizzing whirr to an impassioned climax, before winding back down with luscious vocal harmonies, oozing a gentle, stirring emotion. I can’t wait to hear more from this Dutch band; new ones to watch for sure! (ML)

Brimheim – ‘Hey Amanda’
I can’t get enough of this track from Danish musician Brimheim. Taken from her upcoming and excellently titled album, can’t hate myself into a different shape, which is set for release on 28th January, ‘Hey Amanda’ is a celebration of platonic love and an ode her best friend, brimming with nostalgic lyrics, warm guitar sounds and tender vocals. There’s a very cool accompanying video that features members of Baby In Vain too. (KC)

Kills Birds – ‘Married’
It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to mention The Great Escape, but LA punks Kills Birds were recently announced as one of the First Fifty artists who will be performing at the Brighton-based festival in 2022! I’m hoping to be back by the seaside screaming about how much I love new music then. (KC)

O Hell – ‘Down’
After years spent touring and recording music in alternative bands around the UK, Projector’s Lucy Sheehan is venturing into fresh sonic territory under their new moniker O Hell. Influenced by a love of eclectic, brooding soundscapes and aspirations for pure self-autonomy, their debut single ‘Down’ is an “exercise in refusing compromise” brimming with Sheehan’s distinctive vocals and jagged electronics. (KC)

Circe – ‘Mess With Your Head’
I’m a moth to a flame when it comes to Circe’s sultry pop creations. Co-produced by Emre Turkmen (formerly Years & Years), this new track is a crushed-heart-banger, a dazzling blend of distinctive vocals, Kate Bush inspired beats and jagged electronics. There’s even a Shakespeare inspired lyric worked into it too – “You gave me your heart / and I gave you a pound of flesh.” (KC)

Dyan Valdes – ‘Fade Away’ (ML)
Having been involved in the music industry for twenty years, Berlin-based Cuban-American artist Dyan Valdés has played in esteemed bands such as The Blood Arm and Die Sterne, and has now released her first solo material. Taken from her upcoming debut solo album, ‘Fade Away’ offers an immersive shimmering soundscape; propelled by layers of synth and driving beats alongside Valdés’ luscious vocals, it’s a poignant, twinkling message of hope at a time when things can feel hopeless. Read our recent interview with Dyan here. (ML)

Flowerkid – ‘I Met The Devil At 4 Years Old’
This track is taken from Sydney-based Flowerkid’s much-anticipated debut EP, Everyone Has A Breaking Point. The EP covers many personal issues and topics from gender dysphoria, mental health and misogyny – seeking true self-expression beyond ever-restricting heteronormative constraints. Cannot argue with that. It’s also a tuneee. (TW)

BISHI – ‘Let My Country Awake’ (The Anchoress Remix)
Multi-instrumentalist, producer and GIHE fave BISHI has shared a collection of remixes for the title track of her recent album Let My Country Awake, and this version by The Anchoress is my favourite. Check out Samantha Togni and Hannah Holland’s remixes of the track too. (KC)

Shamir – ‘Cisgender’
I’m just totally addicted to this song right now. I’ve been a fan of Shamir for years and really admire how they’re constantly developing their sound and not shying away from being their true self. I just think this single ‘Cisgender’ is a beautiful and moving reflection on their non binary identity. I don’t think anything I say about this track will do Shamir justice, so I’ll leave you with the lyrics: “I’m not cisgender / I’m not binary trans / I don’t wanna be a girl / I don’t wanna be a man / I’m just existing on this god forsaken land.” Solidarity and love to you Shamir, always. (ML)

Baauer, Tirzah – ‘Way From Me’
I love Tirzah, there is no denying it. I got to see her perform at the Oval Space a couple of weeks ago, fully immersing myself in their wonderful, mesmerising sounds as part of Pitchfork Festival. She didn’t play this track on the night but it’s a recent collab I’ve come across and I’m vibing it. (TW)

fanclubwallet – ‘That I Won’t Do’
Ottawa-based artist fanclubwallet aka Hannah Judge has shared this wonderful alt-pop tune about recovering and re-emerging back into the world again, a relatable sentiment in these unusual times. “When I wrote this song, I was recovering from a year long illness and re-entering into the socializing world (like so many others post pandemic),” Hannah explains. “The song is about dealing with a new relationship/friendship where you aren’t sure whether the person is good for you or not, and you’re not feeling like yourself. It’s about trying to break bad habits while not wanting to break them at all.” (KC)

Prima Queen – ‘Chew Your Cheeks’
Released via Nice Swan Recordings and produced by The Big Moon, this fab single from London-based duo Prima Queen – aka best friends Louise Macphail and Kristin McFadden – explores the swirl of emotions that come when you have an unhealthy infatuation with someone unobtainable. The pair explore their ailing fascination via soft vocals and sultry guitar twangs, giving the track its buoyant, relatable charm. (KC)

Why Bonnie – ‘Galveston’
The latest single from the Texas quintet, ‘Galveston’ is a much-needed slice of sunshine for these chilly, dark days. Oozing a heartfelt twinkling grace and warming, shimmering emotion, it offers a wistful, nostalgic reflection – harking back to memories of childhood visits to the island city of Galveston. Flowing with lilting melodies alongside the soothing allure of Blair Howerton’s vocals, it’s an irresistibly uplifting slice of sparkling indie-pop. (ML)

Aisha Badru – ‘Rooted’
The latest single from Aisha Badru, ‘Rooted’ offers a comforting, dreamy warmth. Flowing with a shimmering grace, a sweeping majestic splendour ripples throughout this beautifully stirring ballad as its poignant lyricism swirls throughout. A simply exquisite, evocative creation that’ll soothe the ears with its resplendent, uplifting allure. The Way Back Home, the upcoming EP from Aisha Badru, is set for release on 3rd December. (ML)

Jackie Ward – ‘Chlorine’
West London-based non-binary artist Jackie Ward makes music inspired by an eclectic range of influences, including Car Seat Headrest to Frank Ocean to Xiu Xiu. This track ‘Chlorine’ is full of their soft vocals and dreamy guitar sounds, exploring their own identity and experience of coming out. Jackie is due to release their debut album later this year. (KC)

KIN – ‘The Runaways’
Consisting of Grace, Adam and Ritu, GIHE faves KIN have previously played live for us and continue to charm our ears with their glistening alt-pop. Reflecting on the mixed feelings of leaving a settled life and starting afresh somewhere new, ‘The Runaways’ showcases the distinctive celestial allure of Grace’s vocals alongside chiming hooks and a shimmering energy. ‘The Runaways’ is accompanied by a really beautiful self-directed video which you can watch here. (ML)

MIRI – ‘Trends’
East London artist and friend of GIHE MIRI has previously charmed our ears with poignant offerings such as ‘Electric Vibes’ and has now shared a powerful new single. A reflection on coming together and uniting in the face of adversity, using our imagination and creativity to fight political corruption, ‘Trends’ is propelled by MIRI’s distinctive soulful vocals that flow with a raw, gritty energy and catchy, empowering spirit. Prior to its release on mainstream platforms, ‘Trends’ was shared exclusively on the pay-as-you-go platform Sonstream. MIRI has been outspoken in her support for the “fair play” platform, which offers independent artists an ethical alternative to the miniscule royalties as little as £0.007 or £0.0028 per stream offered by platforms like Tidal and Spotify. (ML)

Belot – ‘Harmless Fun’
This track is bursting full of pop-bopping beats and maybe even a cowbell… what more could you want to get your toes tapping in those chilly winter evenings? (TW)

 

LISTEN: Circe – ‘Mess With Your Head’

A glistening dark-pop tune that ruminates on the rush of emotions that come when you surrender yourself to love, London-based artist Circe has shared her latest single ‘Mess With Your Head’. Co-produced by Emre Turkmen (formerly Years & Years), the track is a dazzling blend of sultry vocals, Kate Bush inspired beats and jagged electronics, flowing in the same cinematic vein as Circe’s previous creations.

“It’s about the extremes that love pushes us to, the exquisite pain of knowing someone else controls how your heart will fair that day,” Circe explains about the context of her new song. “We are all so often the worst to the people we love the best. There’s a lyric inspired by Shakespeare -‘You gave me your heart / and I gave you a pound of flesh’ – for me the line expresses not only the possessive feelings love can cultivate, but the idea of handing over ‘flesh’ gives physical weight to the emotion of love. The visceral stages from the lightness of a body you know so well, to the heaviness of a battered heart.”

Reflecting on the false promises we make to ourselves when we’re caught in a romantic web – “I’m out of my depth and I swear / it’s the last time” – ‘Mess With Your Head’ is permeated with a deeply relatable, intensely human sense of lust and longing. The down-tempo accompanying B-side tack ‘I’m Still Not Sorry For What I Said’ extrapolates on these confessional, powerful feelings. It embraces the raw truth of a moment of desire, shrugging off the shackles of shame and urging listeners to fully explore their own romantic impulses.

Listen to ‘Mess With Your Head’ and ‘I’m Still Not Sorry For What I Said’ below.

 

Follow Circe on bandcampSpotifyFacebookInstagram

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

CIRCE Photo Credit: Rachel Povey

INTERVIEW: Circe

A creator of evocative, cinematic dark-pop, Circe’s electronic soundscapes dazzle the senses whilst simultaneously dissecting social norms with breath-taking grace. Since the release of her debut EP, She’s Made Of Saints, in 2020, I’ve been a huge fan of her charged, sultry tunes.

When I spoke to her via Zoom at the beginning of May, her vibrant energy and charm transcended the screen, as we explored the themes and iconography behind her visuals, the inspiration for the tracks on her EP and her inability to tell the difference between panpipes and the flute as a small child…

Hello Circe, how have you been? How have you been coping with lockdown and the pandemic over the last few months?

Covid-19 has been absolutely awful for the people who have been directly affected by it, but – and this might sound bad – I was one of the lucky ones during lockdown. At heart, I’m a nerd and I like to just be on my computer making music. So there was a moment of self acceptance where I thought, “Oh, I’m just gonna make loads of music!” and the days went past and the whole EP came out of me while I was just set up in my bedroom.

I think I’m a natural loner. Without sounding completely wanky, I like living through music, living through movies and living in a world with those characters. It might be because I went to art school, but I like to create a whole world around me with each song, which is what I did with my first EP. I changed my bedroom to make it feel like a movie set.

That sounds really safe & wholesome! So where did it all start musically for you? Was there a specific artist or person who inspired you to start making music?

I have the cheesiest little answer for this. I remember this so well. I was 5-6 years old and we were walking into town with my Mum, and this man was playing the panpipes. I feel like way more people used to busk with panpipes back then? It was really beautiful and it made me cry my eyes out. My Mum was like “why are you crying?” and I didn’t know, I didn’t quite understand. I thought it just sounded really beautiful.

I don’t think my Mum had fully seen what was going on – she had four kids with her – but when we got home I was trying to explain the beautiful sound, but she couldn’t work out what I meant. I said I saw a man blowing into something and she said it was probably a flute. So for ages I thought the panpipes were a flute, so for years I was asking “can I have a flute? Can I have a flute?” When I was 13 my Mum rented me a flute, and obviously when I opened it “I was like, what the hell is this?” but I was still really excited to play it. So I played that classically for a really long time and did the whole classical thing, playing in orchestras and stuff. Then when I was 17 I got a guitar. But it all started with a flute and some panpipes…

That’s so sweet and you’re right, you never see people busking with panpipes anymore. It’s a lost art. Talk to me about your recent single ‘Going Down’. What were the influences for the sound and visuals?

When my Mum was moving house, I went and helped her pack up and sort through some stuff, and I found my teenage scrapbook that was kind of like a diary, and it was just so amazing to read it all back because it was so unbelievably passionate. There were loads of bits of poetry and stuff, and there was a piece that wasn’t exactly erotica, but I was definitely on the periphery of discovering my sexuality and what it means to be a woman, so I was writing these little stories about it as a teenager. I thought it was cool, so I kept it.

Then one day when I was on my way to my studio, I was I was listening to ’99 Problems’ by Jay-Z and I was so into the beat. I don’t play drums, but I make all my own beats, so when I got into the studio I was making a beat and I knew it would be a big bombastic song kind of like Jay-Z, and I thought, “can I put these erotic stories over this?” So I did, and then it just became this mad little song. It’s about teenage liberation and finding your sexuality.

Did you have fun making the video for it?

It was so fun. I guess it’s a bit like what I did with my teenage scrapbook, I just collected loads of pictures, poetry, stuff about cults, shots from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet and I fitted some Catholic Church stuff around it too. Then I filmed myself, and I tried to get that sort of innocence where, as a young woman, you know, you’re objectified all the time, you can’t walk down the god damn street without someone calling you a slut for absolutely no reason, so to come home and be like, “I’m gonna be really sexy and really into myself as a sexual being.” It’s all about that really, that’s what I’ve tried to convey.

The idea for my character in the video was kind of inspired by a character in Euphoria called Kate. She starts doing online webcam dancing and sex cam-ing and she’s just the most amazing character. It’s a much more complex storyline than just that, but she was a big influence.

That’s so great that you were just in your own space getting to fully enjoy that freedom of expression, whereas when you try and take that into the world, lots of people have an opinion about it – like you said. That’s such a lovely thing to be able to enjoy.

Something which we have to talk about is your contribution to the Dream Wife Megamix compilation album on bandcamp. It’s all of GIHE’s favourite musicians coming together to make music for a good cause (Rainbow Mind), tell us how you got involved…

I’ve known Alice from Dream Wife for a really long time, because I went to art school in Brighton at a similar time to her. She was on the first people to record my first ever demos. She really got me into it and she was like “you should do like production as well,” and that’s how I got into it. We kept in touch and we’ve done bits and pieces, but yeah, she contacted me and asked if she could use ‘Ten Girls’ for a project and I was like ‘Yeah!’ and then she said she was mixing it with a Sleigh Bells song, and I was like, ‘Yeah!’ Dream Wife are amazing. They do so much campaigning work for such amazing charities and they’ve always been a really good voice for change.

Let’s go back to your 2020 EP, She’s Made Of Saints, because it’s just it’s SO GOOD. It’s cinematic and mysterious, but it also tackles heavy themes like toxic masculinity, the policing of female sexuality (which we’ve already touched on) and even the manipulative behaviour of cult leaders. You explore these themes in such a poetic way, how do you take subjects like this and transform them into dark pop songs? 

Thank you so, so much, that’s so so lovely! I know I’m a songwriter, but I think of myself as a writer in general, and I think with these themes I was writing a story, or a little movie and it all turned out to sound just like a soundtrack. It’s like I’m directing it as Circe. So maybe that’s my way of condensing the big stuff, but some of it does often come from something I’ve seen, or experienced too.

With ‘Ten Girls’, I can 100% remember it so well. I was watching The Handmaid’s Tale, and in one episode, one of the women that’s been kidnapped gets away, she gets in a car and just runs over this horrible guard and it’s obviously violent and mad, but it just, oh my god, it just made me bawl my eyes out. It had the most amazing piece of music behind it and I was just like – I’ve got an idea – and I wrote ‘Ten Girls’. It came out really quickly. I often write a song quite fast, I get an idea and then I just build from that. You need to still stay true to those first characters, those first stories, that first line you came up with, but then you can build around it.

I’ve seen The Handmaid’s Tale, so I know the exact scene you’re talking about! Whoever organises or selects the music for the show should get in touch with you, because you could easily write the whole score for it.

I feel like a lot of artists have goals to tour the world and stuff, which would be amazing, but my absolute golden dream is to soundtrack a TV show. I feel like that’s what I was built for!

Absolutely. On a side note, did Steve Harrington from Stranger Things ever get in touch to say he’d heard your track ‘Steve Harrington’?

It’s so funny, because I did an interview on Radio 1 with Jack Saunders and then the next day, Joe Keery who plays Steve Harrington was on talking about his own band and I was like, “Do I have the guts to say ‘hello, I wrote a song about you'” – but I didn’t. If it ever got to the Stranger Things people, I don’t know what I’d do. I’m quite shy with people, so my way of fan-girling is to write a song. I did go to see the music of Stranger Things live at Southbank Centre though, that was one of the best nights of my life.

As we’ve already mentioned, there are lots of cinematic influences on your sound & visuals – David Lynch, Baz Luhrmann, The Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things – but what is it about the style of these directors and shows that you like so much?

To sum it up, I think a lot of the time when I was growing up, I felt quite uncomfortable in my own skin. I’ve always been told I’m too emotional, that everything I do is just too much, so I took solace in things like Romeo & Juliet. I was like, “that’s quite a good level to live at; it’s bombastic, romantic, outrageous, cameras fucking everywhere, sped up then slowed down” – it made me feel so comfortable and happy! That’s the world that I live in, in my own head.

I think with all of these things – including Stranger Things and Twin Peaks – there’s a cosiness to them and they’re completely their own thing. They are outrageous and beautiful and I think I just feel comfortable at that level and in that world. It’s fantasy, but it’s grounded in human emotion, love and storytelling. I’m just absolutely not interested at all in living in the real world, you know? I have no connection to it. I have friends and people I know who are doing sensible things and getting married, and I’ve got probably about 10 wedding dresses in my wardrobe just because I love dressing up and inventing stories about brides running away…

I think your way of living sounds more fun and I love that you have 10 wedding dresses that you can throw on when you’re running away from reality.

I know live music is still on the backburner at the moment due to Covid-19, but do you have any plans to play live when things are safe again? Are you planning to release more music too?

Yes, there’s definitely more music to come this year. I think what I’m hopefully planning to do is play a Circe show. I’m not that interested in playing just a conventional gig, because to me, it just doesn’t feel quite right for Circe. So my plan is to build an installation piece with live elements to it. It will definitely feel more like an immersive kind of experience.

That sounds great, I’ll be there. Finally, are there any artists or bands that you recommend we listen to?

I’ve got two, and they’re both completely different to Circe.

One of them is called Amour, who is also called Megan. They’re so young and they’re just absolutely killing it. They make pop music that’s on the edge of Pale Waves, but even cooler. And then a duo I think you might know called ARXX. I absolutely love them, they’re so talented, if I had a label I would sign them in a millisecond. Fantastic song-writing. I can see them being absolutely massive. I have like no doubt, I think they will really take off.

Thanks to Circe for answering my questions.

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Photo Credit: Rachel Povey

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut