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: MEI

South London-based vocalist, bassist and producer MEI, is on our radar. MEI recently released her double a-side project ‘No Dim Lights’, the second installment in her Antonio Vivaldi-inspired seasonal trilogy. The project expresses the “fight to not give up, even on my gloomy days, my light still shines and nothing can dim it.”

We asked MEI to name her ‘Five Favourites’ – five artists or albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques, and we let her chuck an extra one too! Check out her choices below, and make sure you give ‘No Dim Lights’ a listen out now.

Lauryn Hill- The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
This album really changed my life. I studied it like it was a school project! I learnt so much about singing, songwriting and rapping from it, and it was the first time I’d heard all three be done so incredibly well. She definitely put the fire inside me to rap as well as sing, and it wasn’t until years later I actually had the confidence to do it. The honesty in every lyric also made it impossible not to connect to it. The album really had a profound impact on me personally and my songwriting.

Coldplay – Parachutes
I still remember clearly hearing ‘Trouble’ on the radio for the first time and feeling such a strong wave of emotion. I don’t think I even took in the lyrics because I was too young but sonically it was just so moving. When I revisited the album in my teens I was so gripped by how talkative they were and how they hit you so deep. The chord progressions too!

Laura Mvula – ‘Show Me Love’
I truly believe this is outstanding songwriting. It inspires me so much. It’s so honest and tragically beautiful. Wow. The vocal is mesmerising, you feel every word and the arrangement tears you apart and brings you back again. I wish I wrote it.

Ms Dynamite- ‘Dy-Na-Mi-Tee’
I absolutely love this song. I’ll never forget feeling so empowered by it. Here was a young black girl from London being herself all over my TV screen and I loved it! She was so unique and unapologetic and always bringing a positive message to her music, which was so inspiring to me.

Ebo Taylor – ‘Love and Death’
This song takes me straight back to my childhood! Growing up in a Ghanaian household meant I got to hear a lot of highlife and afrobeat music. Especially at family parties; you would have all the old school high life playing in the background and I’d never know any of the titles or artist names. I loved the horn line on this tune so much, so when I rediscovered it a few years ago I was so happy! I also loved the concept of a sad song that made you want to dance. The polyrhythms in highlife and afrobeat music really inspires my production.

Kendrick Lamar – ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’
Kendrick is definitely one of my favourite artists of the last decade.

Massive thanks to MEI for sharing her Five (or six!) Favourites with us. Listen to ‘No Dim Lights’ below.

Follow MEI on Twitter for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: The Elephant Trees

Formed of Martha Phillips and Sam Hugh-Jones, The Elephant Trees have been gearing up to release their debut EP ‘Monachopsis’ for a while. Whilst their music is super catchy, it’s the message of solidarity behind it that makes them a worthy listen. On their upcoming “Depressed Kids Disco Party” tour, they’re promoting a safe space for women and LGBTQ+ people, and they’re encouraging anyone who feels stressed out by life’s demons to come down and shake it all off with them for an hour or so.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Martha to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to The Elephant Trees’ brand new track ‘Idiot’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Coldplay – Viva La Vida (Death and All His Friends) 
After Growing up in a household soaked in the best combination of Christian rock and Disco (?!), the first time I heard Coldplay, my ears pricked up. I’d heard classics like ‘Fix You’ and ‘The Scientist’ and been moved, and in hindsight this was probably the first time I’d made a connection between music and emotion. I asked for a Coldplay album for my 12th birthday, and discovered Viva La Vida for the first time. ’42’, ‘Yes’, ‘Death and All His Friends’ – all of these tracks stirred emotion in me, but new emotions. Most artists can easily convey happiness or sadness in their music, but this album introduced me to music that could make me feel hope, discomfort, curiosity, a full spectrum of emotions I was only just beginning to understand myself.

2. Twenty One Pilots – Vessel
Later, after I’d started writing my own music, Sam and Tom (Aka guitar master and Drum King of The Elephant Trees) pointed out one of my songs sounded like ‘Car Radio’ by Twenty One Pilots. They forced me to listen to it in our first ever band practice in high school, I’d never heard anything like it. The way Tyler Joseph flips between genres, tempos and instruments, whilst spitting mind bending and intensely relatable lyrics blew my mind. This album is still one of the most influential on my writing.

3. Alt J – Relaxer
Rock – but also Jazz – but also Orchestral? but also pop and groove? Sign me up. The movement of these musical pieces made me feel the same way Twenty One Pilots’ lyrics did. I think the common theme for my favourite albums is the intensity of emotion I feel when listening to them, and that’s what I carry over into my own music.

4. Lianne La Havas – Blood
I heard ‘Green & Gold’ on one of Tom’s playlists and couldn’t help drumming along on the table to it – I had to listen to the full album. This woman has an incredibly poetic way of looking at life. Her lyrics are witty and make me feel empowered, her music has groove and technicality to it. This is a timeless album that I always come back to when I need reminding what true romantic storytelling song-writing looks sounds like.

5. Eliza Doolittle – A Real Romantic
I’m pretty sure everyone who are up in the noughties loved Eliza Doolittle. This album is the more mature and broody comeback. One thing I’ll take is the melodies, they’re gorgeous, full of passion, and the bass lines and hooks underneath are diiiiiirty. The contrast makes for sexy and empowering listening. I only started listening to it a couple of months ago and it’s been on repeat since.

Thanks to Martha for sharing her five favourite with us. Follow The Elephant Trees on Facebook for more updates.