FIVE FAVOURITES: Ilgen-Nur

If Hamburg-based “Slackerqueen” Ilgen-Nur had listened to the doubts instilled in her mind by the petty comments of her male teenage counterparts, she wouldn’t be preparing to release her debut album Power Nap on 30th August via her own label Power Nap Records. “If some stupid boys…hadn’t given me the feeling that I had nothing on my plate, I would have knocked something out four or five years ago at the age of 18/19” she recounts, “It took me so long to rebuild my self-confidence”.

But that’s exactly what she’s done, having released an EP titled No Emotions in 2017, playing slots at The Great Escape Festival, Eurosonic and Spot Festival, and even having her song ’17’ chosen for Netflix series How to Sell Drugs online (fast).

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 Ilgen-Nur 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 her brand new track ‘Nothing Surprises Me’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Kate Nash – Made of Bricks
This album is probably the reason why I’m writing music. Made of Bricks by Kate Nash was the first album I purchased that wasn’t something that was considered “mainstream” or some sort of music I got to know through TV or the radio. Actually, my sister recommended it to me after hearing the song ‘Foundations’ which I feel like to this day is an iconic indie song for an entire generation. I was immediately drawn to the story-telling songwriting and I remember listening to this album over and over again for years and years (starting when I was 11) and just getting obsessed over the lyrics, remembering every single lyric and getting lost in the characters Kate Nash was singing about. For example, ‘Mariella’ — I even have a reference to that song in my own song ‘Cool’! I remember practicing the songs on my piano over and over again and spending endless hours watching Kate Nash interviews. After all, she was my first proper role model and I am more than thankful for that. Through her, I discovered bands like Nirvana and Hole and Bikini Kill. Kate Nash taught me that I don’t have to be professional in playing an instrument to create something that I like, which I cherish to this day. And oh ‘Nicest Thing’ is still a classic to cry to!

2. Hole – Live Through This
When I first started getting into Hole, I read an interview with Courtney Love in which she said “I want every girl in the world to pick up a guitar and start screaming” — I believe that this statement was the ultimate reason why I asked my parents to get me an electric guitar for my 16th birthday. I started playing a bunch of Hole songs on guitar which was super fun and to this day, I love playing ‘Miss World’ on guitar. It’s so simple, yet so energetic. Ultimately, after watching all these videos of Courtney Love perform and re-watching all these dark and dreamy Hole music videos I felt like for the first time in my life I was allowed to scream and be angry at the world. It felt, and still feels liberating to this day. Obviously at the beginning of my Hole fandom I didn’t really get what most songs were about, yet later re-connected and understood the themes of sexual abuse, trauma and feeling angry and empty. It’s a powerful album to me, and it’s also probably one of my favorite artworks.

3. Elliott Smith – Either/Or
This one I have only discovered a year ago or so. Whilst hanging out at my bassists place ‘Between the Bars’ came on and I was drawn to it immediately. My guitarist and roommate had Either/Or on vinyl and I couldn’t stop listening to it, I put it on almost every morning for months, got completely sad and lost in all the songs. I was surprised that it literally took me this long to discover Elliott Smith, but I’m also thankful and excited about it. I’m very drawn to his guitar sound and the overlapping of vocals and the general lo-fi sound. I actually once got asked if the title of my first EP No Emotions is linked to Elliott Smith’s song ‘Waltz #2’ where he sings “she shows no emotion at all, stares into space like a dead china doll“ — but at the time I didn’t even know the song, only later listened to it randomly and that line came up and I was super perplexed and didn’t know what to say. I felt even more connected to his whole persona and music. ‘Angeles’ is by far one of my favorite songs generally and on this album.

4. Jeff Buckley – Grace
Every time someone plays ‘Lover, You Should’ve Come Over’ in the van whilst we are on tour, I believe at least one person in the car cries. I don’t know what else to say, other than this is an amazing album to cry to and be melancholic and dramatic. It’s also just perfect to me, and I feel like it’s extremely underrated among other musicians. I actually don’t think that a lot of my friends who play guitar music know or love this album, but I feel like it’s that one album everyone can find a song on that they connect with. Jeff Buckley’s voice is so beautiful, and I don’t even know how and what he plays on guitar because it’s definitely nothing simple but it sucks you in like crazy. His lyrics are so pure and magical, one of my favorites by him on this album is on the song ‘So Real’ – “Love, let me sleep tonight on your couch / and remember the smell of the fabric of your simple city dress”. And “We walked around ’til the moon got full / like a plate”. It’s by far one of my favorite albums, it’s quiet and it’s loud and dramatic – it’s everything. I’m definitely influenced by Buckley’s singing even though I would never compare my voice to his.

5. Soko – I thought I was an Alien
Soko is not only my fashion and makeup inspiration, but also taught me so many things. I love all of her songs, but this debut album is special to me. It’s extremely raw and Soko doesn’t shy away when it comes to being in touch which her negative emotions and being completely honest with her listeners. I love her stories and her calm voice, and I like the way she’s switching instruments when she’s playing live (even though I haven’t seen her live yet, unfortunately). She has this one song on this album called ‘I Just Want To Make It New With You”, which initially made me pick up my bass more when it came to song writing. Overall, Soko was my first queer indie icon and every one of my queer friends has cried at least once to the “We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow’ video. I love Soko, and I’m so excited for her future records and videos.

Thanks to Ilgen-Nur for sharing her favourite with us. Follow her on Facebook for more updates.

FIVE FAVOURITES: PETSEMATARY

Oxford newcomer PETSEMATARY creates atmospheric, shoegazey soundscapes that in spite of their clear production, brood with a raw intensity. She recorded her first EP VOL I, independently, with all proceeds going to the charities Mind and Shelter.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a new artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with PETSEMATARY 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 her track ‘Tall Boys’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Jeff Buckley – Grace
This album pretty much made me want to make music. There’s no other way to describe Jeff’s voice other than pure self-expression in sonic form and it’s just fucking magical to listen to. It was the first time I’d heard music that made me want to smile and cry and scream and sing and it just made me want to use my voice in the most true way possible. Singing is a really intimate and personal thing. Your voice is you and there’s not much you can do to change it, and I think that Jeff’s music encouraged me to be as true to that as possible. The album is a kind of beautiful mess of different sounds – Grace is like an orchestral and cinematic love song, whereas tracks like ‘So Real’ and ‘Dream Brother’ are dark and abstract and dreamlike, and Jeff’s voice traverses to whatever depths the songs take him. There’s a lot of darkness in the songs but also there’s this hopefulness and light which really inspires me.

2. Emma Ruth Rundle – Marked For Death
I love everything about Emma. Her songs are dark and twisted and raw and I just think that she’s one of the most powerful female musicians around at the moment. I admire that her songs are both honest but also elusive – she manages to paint scenarios that don’t need to be explicit lyrically, and that makes them all the more powerful. Her guitar work was also a massive turning point in how I approached writing. Even though I’ve been playing guitar since I was a kid it has always been something I’ve felt self-conscious about or something I should always work a little harder at, and something that I have always felt I am inferior at among my male peers. Listening to Emma’s work made me realise that being good at guitar doesn’t need to mean being able to shred scales as fast as all the other guitar guys, but that you can make hauntingly beautiful and unique soundscapes through space, open tunings and effects.

On the title track ‘Marked For Death’ she has these beautiful sparse reverb-drenched plucked guitars that implode into a haze of delayed slide guitars in the chorus – this album pretty much made me want to put slide guitar on every track I make ever. Lyrically I also really admire her. Tracks like ‘Medusa’ and ‘Hand of God’ made me think a lot about female characters in literature and mythology and how they can sort of serve as a way of communicating my own experiences. I think there’s a lot of power in reclaiming those old tropes about women – the seductress, the woman scorned etc. All of those ideas are constructed as reactions to (and fear of) female power, and I feel like in reclaiming them in songwriting or any narrative they can become a way of coming to terms with your own experience. I feel power in reclaiming my own experience through that lens.

3. Elliott Smith – Figure 8
Elliott was the master of making the most bleak things sound melodically beautiful and uplifting. My favourite Elliott record constantly fluctuates, but for songwriting I always seem to go back to Figure 8. His lyrics can be both candid and enigmatic, and just in the way he sings there is an honesty and vulnerability which I find really inspiring. His songs are all feel and no bullshit, and it’s that sort of understated genius aspect which I love so much about all of his music.

The songs are vulnerable and raw but not afraid to hit where it hurts, and I think it just shows that being able to saw how you really feel is a lot of the time more powerful than dressing stuff up in metaphor. That sort of honesty opens you up in songwriting and that really inspired me in how I wanted to communicate my ideas through my songs. I love the arrangements on this album. Obviously his acoustic tracks are beautiful enough as they are but tracks like ‘Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud’, ‘Junk Bond Trader’ and ‘Happiness’ are just really powerful and dynamic to me in terms of their instrumentation.

“All I used to be will pass away and then you’ll see that all I want now is happiness for you and me” – the lyrics really are just bleak as hell yet he manages to twist them into an uplifting and harmonically beautiful track, and I guess its that incongruity between the dark and the light which makes this album and Elliott’s songwriting in general all the more twisted and brilliant to me. It’s all just so beautiful and haunting.

4. PJ Harvey – Is This Desire?
This record has so much depth and dynamic, and PJ is the mistress of dark and light and just everything to me. There’s a lot of noise and dissonance to the songs and I think they all speak to this theme of instinct and rawness which lie behind a lot of the tracks. Tracks like ‘A Perfect Day Elise’ and ‘The Sky Lit Up’ have these hazy distorted soundscapes, and PJ’s voice can go from whisper to growl to scream to ghostly wailing, and I think she’s just an incredibly powerful songwriter and performer. It’s sorta like a constant fluctuating between chaos and calm.

My favourite track on the record probably is the title track, ‘Is This desire?’. The simplicity and honesty of the words, the stripped back accompaniment and vocal are just really evocative to me. It’s my favourite record of hers because it just feels really raw and intimate, and again no-bullshit. I like the idea of these female protagonists which drive the story of the songs – Elise, Angelene, Catherine and so on. From that angle it speaks to me as a record about raw female experience, passion and desire, and I think that the same honesty in reclaiming your own desires and instinctual emotions is what inspired me when making Petsem Vol I. Desire as instinct, possessiveness and anger as instinct and so on.

5. Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
Billy Corgan for me is one of the most important songwriters (although he is eminently memeable) and I think Siamese Dream is testament to that. It’s just one of my favourite guitar albums ever. There’s a sorta surreal circus-like feel about the songs – it’s sludgy and psychy but has a really great pop melodic feel to it. You have the spacey sleepy-eyed dream tracks like ‘Luna’ and ‘Spaceboy’, which are really beautiful and surreal, but then you also have the way songs like ‘Soma’ and ‘Silverfuck’ soar between sparse reverby guitars to heavy sludge vibes. It’s dynamic and exciting, and an album I go back to again and again when I feel uninspired or am struggling to write. The songs constantly travel to parts you aren’t really expecting. They can be grungey and dark and heavy, but also upbeat and light, all the while with fucking great vocal melodies and harmonies. Also Corgan is a gift to this earth and we don’t deserve him.

Thanks to PETSEMATARY for sharing her favourites with us. Follow her on Facebook & Bandcamp for more updates.